You might remember my purchase of the little vintage clock with the swinging girl on the right a few months ago. I found it at the L&L Fleatique for $15, and it needed a little work to get it running again. (Cheers to my dad, for his handy-dandy MacGyver sensibilities that helped it to do so).
Then yesterday, at the Ohio River Boulevard antique mall, I stumbled upon another clock in the genre, and at an even lower price... well... I simply couldn't say no.
Of course, this got my brain ticking over just when these were made and what kind of trends spurred them on. So today, I thought I'd share that information with you.
According to the Jitterbuzz antique clock web site, from the 1700s onward, clocks had become a symbol of status and taste, leading to the creation of tall, elaborate grandfather and grandmother timepieces. But as homes transitioned from large family mansions to city apartments and more modest homes, there suddenly was no longer room for the great tall clocks of previous generations...
And this meant that the clock began to double-up with other decorative items-- y'know-- tchotchkies.
By the 1940s, clocks were elaborate figural displays for mantles or walls, including everything from ships and steering wheels, to stagecoaches and horses, and little animated figures like my children on the swings.
The Jitterbuzz site claims that the United Metal Goods company of Brooklyn, maker of my newest clock, "put the schlock in clock." And certainly the appeal of these clocks is subjective. But their depiction of the trends and interests of the 40s or 50s makes them very much a part of their... er... time.
Meanwhile, I found out a bit of information on the clock I already had. According to Roger Russell's well-researched site, my green clock was produced by Mastercrafters Clock and Radio Company in the 1948-49 timeframe.
It's Model 119, and called "Mantle Swingtime" or "Girl on a Swing." It was also the first motion clock to be made by Mastercrafters. Where auction information indicates the United Metal Goods clock plays music for the tiny couple to swing to, this one-- as far as I know-- never did.
But like the United Metal Goods clock, this has a little light, which lights up the scene behind it. And the figure swings in time to the clock motion.
Each clock uses a landscape print-- popular of its time, to create the background for the figures making up the pendulum.
Roger Russell indicates there were two types of prints used in the "Girl on a Swing" mantle clock. One, like mine here, has the little girl sitting in front of a little country house with a separate plastic fence in front of it. In another scene, apparently, she sits in front of a more modern-looking ranch home.
The print is in the Atkinson Fox style-- one of the things I liked about it-- though I have not been able to identify that particular print in my Fox book.
This clock came in two finishes-- "green onyx" as shown here and a "walnut," similar to the faux wood look of the United Metal Goods clock. The Girl on a Swing also came in a wall clock version.
I've also seen the Girl on a Swing clock case used with a bird-figure on a perch.
The material these clocks are made of is called "tenite," which Wikipedia indicates was an early plastic-- a cellulosic thermoplastic, to be specific-- first created in 1929 . It was manufactured by Eastman Chemicals, using softwood as a raw material.
It thought it was also interesting to note that Mr. Russell located the "Girl on a Swing" clock in a Joseph Hagn wholesale catalog around 1950, and it retailed at $15.95. More than I actually paid for the item in 2008!
Well, I hope you all enjoyed this little venture back in...er... time.
- And if you'd care to go back in time to Wednesday's Treasure Box post you can step through the portal here.