Collecting Art Deco clocks can be addictive. Since they were mass-produced there are thousands out there in many different styles, so you are sure to find one or more that will fit right in with your decor. And often they are not that expensive, we’ve paid less than $10.00 for some, but most are in the $25.00 to $50.00 range. First a word of advice or warning, vintage clocks can often be found in good working order when you purchase them. But sometimes the electric motors that run the clocks can burn out and since they are no longer being manufactured, repairs, if it can be fixed, can be expensive and take a really long time.
Shelf or Desk Clocks
Chris and I are both fond of Art Deco clocks. Chris is the winner of this collecting quest as he has the best clock of our collections, the General Electric, Brenton. Manufactured between 1937-1939, with a retail price of $8.95 ($148.00 in 2015). The frosted glass clock face sits on a silver painted stepped base, has etched numbers and abstract design that is illuminated from below. This clock is sometimes erroneously attributed to Rockwell Kent, but was actually designed by John Rainbault.
None of the clocks in my collection equal the Brenton, but they are stylish. My favorite clock of all that I own is the Westclox Andover. Introduced in April of 1938, it originally sold for $4.95 ($83.21 in 2015). Production of this clock lasted just over four years and was discontinued in 1942. I particularly like the stylized numerals and the translucent blue band around the face. The Andover does not have a self-starting motor like Telechron and GE clocks so to get it running one has to turn the upper knob on the back of the clock.
Here’s a clock that I picked up about ten years ago at the Haddon Heights Antique Center in Haddon Heights, N.J. It was a great buy at only seven dollars, which is exactly the price of the clock when it sold originally, and it runs great. The model name is the Debutante, it was manufactured by General Electric from 1933 – 1938 and was available in brass or chrome. This is another design by John Rainbault.
Driving for Deco friend Nancy picked up a very nice “Modernistic” wood mantel clock a few years back at Salamanca Mall Antiques, in Salamanca, New York. As a matter of fact it was the same day and place that Chris picked up his General Electric Brenton. Who knew that Salamanca was such a hot bed for Art Deco clocks? There is no manufacturer’s name on the clock and I can’t find any information about it on-line. About 15 years ago there was an online store specializing in Art Deco that had this same clock, painted in blue, but it seems to have gone out of business. So if anyone can offer some information about this clock, we would be grateful.
When kitchens are depicted in 1930’s advertisements there is always a clock on the wall. My kitchen clock is the General Electric New Hostess. It was made from 1934 – 1941 and then from 1947 – 1952. The molded plastic case came in red, green, black and ivory. The pre-war models had a metal back of “nicral”; the later models had a plastic back. My clock is from the post-war era, but it looks almost exactly like the early versions. And it shows up well hanging on the wall. This was one of the most popular kitchen clocks of the 1930’s and can often be seen in kitchen advertisements of the era.
The clock that hangs on Chris’ kitchen wall is an Miller 8 day, wind up clock, circa 1930. It was made by the E. Ingraham Company of Bristol, Connecticut, which was in business from 1844 – 1967. This particular clock was not working when Chris purchased it. He was able to get it repaired but it took about six months for the job to get done.
Designed by George Graff, this was one of the most popular alarm clocks made by the Telechron company in the 1930’s. And there were four variations of it with different face styles, hands and case designs. I own the 715 model, which is slightly different from the original 711, as there is no illuminating light and the clock face is beige rather than white. The case is Dura-silver-alloy that stands on a black, bakelite base and it is heavy, weighing nearly three pounds. Later models were offered in green, ivory, orchid and blue enamel. The one problem that I have with the clock is that the alarm is fickle and doesn’t always ring, it does keep good time though, not bad for a clock that is about 85 years old.
In the mid to late 1930’s cobalt and peach color mirrors became very popular. Colored mirrors were not only used to hang on wall, but also for table tops and for clocks, too. My previous alarm clock was one of these, the Mirolarm. Manufactured by Telechron from 1937 – 1942, it came in cobalt blue or peach.
Chris owns this stylish, chrome alarm clock, made by the Hammond Clock Company of Chicago, Illinois.
Founded in 1928, by Laurens Hammond, he would invent the electric organ in 1935 and the company’s name would change to the Hammond Instrument Company in 1937. Hammond’s Production of clocks ended in 1941. The above clock is the Polo, first manufactured in 1931, it was one of the most popular clocks made by Hammond.
Clocks I wish I owned
Even with all the clocks that I own there are still a few really special ones that I would love to have in my collection. Gilbert Rohde not only designed furniture for the Herman Miller Company, but also a series of clocks in the early 1930’s. These clocks are highly collectible today and can cost anywhere from $1,000 to up to $8,000.
The clock on my most wanted list is Paul Frankl’s Modernique (1928-1932) for the Warren Telechron Company. This clock quickly acquired the nickname the “fifty dollar clock”, referring its price. Because of its price it was not a big seller and as a result I’ve only come across them twice at antique shows and each time it was priced over $500.00.
So until I own one or more of the clocks above, my quest for clocks will continue and I’m sure the same goes for Chris, too.
Anthony & Chris (The Freakin’, Tiquen’ Guys)
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