My last story dealt with Connecticut clocks and the ultimate use of clock movements in tin toys, also made in Connecticut. One clock company that is still manufacturing “clocks” is the Lux Clock Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, founded in 1914 by Paul Lux. Paul’s wife and two sons made this a family business making clock movements only. After a fire in the their new, large facility, the company was rebuilt with family and friends in the 1920’s on Johnson Street in Waterbury. During the time between 1931 & 1936 the company produced 3000 clocks per day having expanded their business until 1941 when they made war related products. A search for these products has proved elusive but after the war the Lux Clock Manufacturing Company continued to make an entire clock with the company solvent enough to open plants in Tennessee and Canada.
The Robertshaw Controls Company bought the Lux Company in 1961 producing clocks and timers using the name Lux Time Division. In 1986 the company was sold to the Siebe group of London with kitchen timers being produced to this day but not by the original Lux Clock Company. It is interesting to note that this company, started so long ago in Connecticut , did not fade into oblivion but reinvented itself to modern day.
The Lux clocks produced in Connecticut are very collectible even though they were produced in mass quantities and very inexpensive. They have become popular as novelty clocks some of which were bought for two and three dollars, now commanding two and three thousand dollars in mint condition. A trip to The Academy on a Saturday, a visitor to the antique shop will find 4 Lux cuckoo clocks on the wall having been refurbished by a local clock maker. Three of them have a somewhat stationary cuckoo and the fourth is a large clock complete with a deer head with an active cuckoo. The chain with its weights is so long that the staff has had to move a table away from the wall to accommodate its length. The clock of this size is wound by pulling on the chains.
One needs to be aware of reproductions and purchase their treasures from a reputable dealer. Lux produced animated clocks, mantle clocks, wall clocks, small and full size cuckoos and into the 20th century kitchen clocks, automobile clocks, stove timers and travel clocks. You will also be able to find a myriad of clocks in different styles with Lux movements. Some of the shelf clock faces were made by the Syracuse Ornamental Company, Inc. using a mixture of sawdust and resin that was poured into a mold, dried, then removed for painting in various colors. After WW II, the Lux Company started producing their clocks with plastic cases.
Today Lux is a privately owned company with headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania making thermostats, timers and range parts with 50 employees. Lux is one of the largest brands of thermostats, selling more than one million a year with a top rating. Starting out as a successful clock company, the Lux family can be proud of the innovate ideas for comfortable living on the market today.
So, now let’s look at some other old clocks for you to collect. The Waterbury Clock Company began as a subsidiary of Benedict & Burnham, a brass manufacturing company in 1857. B & B had no background in clock making but saw clocks as a means for it brass. Over the years Waterbury would become a leading manufacturer of clocks and when it closed its doors in 1944, it had made some of the most memorable American antique wall clocks and mantel clocks, highly regarded clock movements and watches. During the Depression, Waterbury Clock managed to stay afloat with the production of the Mickey Mouse wristwatch which was a huge success. I can attest to that because I have one, bought for me by one of my uncle’s employers in Woonsocket RI.
The company lacked an experienced clock maker… enter Chauncey Jerome and his brother Noble. Until their arrival, most of Waterbury’s business had been in the sale of movements and cases for clocks made elsewhere. Under their direction, Waterbury’s production grew rapidly needing a new building. What Jerome is most noted for is his change over from wooden clockworks to brass, perfecting his brass-works clock before moving to New Haven after his factory in Bristol burned. With his unfortunate dealings with P.T. Barnum, the Jerome Clock Company was forced into bankruptcy, never to recover but James English and Hiram Camp founded the New Haven Clock Company making clock cases taking over the control of Jerome’s company, building it into the largest clock manufactory in Connecticut and one of the largest in the world.
One of the benefits to New Haven Clock Company was Jerome’s’ reputation and the network of companies that remained interested in selling its clocks. In England Jerome & Col Ltd. sold Jerome clocks until 1904 when New Haven bought the English firm outright. Among the Jerome clocks that New Haven produced was called the Duchess. It had a rosewood veneer case an angled top, Roman numerals and a glass window to reveal the swinging pendulum. By 1920, nearly 2000 men
and women turned out more than two million clocks and watches a year. With stiff competition and changing times, the company was forced out of business after WW II. The Orange Historical Society has a New Haven Clock on display at The Academy and it is still in working condition. Well, it did need some help with our clock maker.
So are you still interested in buying an antique clock? How about an Ansonia Clock? Its roots lie in the Ansonia Brass Company founded in 1844 supplying brass to clock manufacturers until 1851. Theodore Terry and Franklin Andrews who had a successful clock making business sold half of their business to Ansonia Brass in exchange for cheaper brass thus the Ansonia Clock Company was born. Many Ansonia clocks are eight-day movements however in 1875 they developed a 30-hour, spring-driven illuminated alarm clock. The alarm triggered a match to ignite a wick that illuminated the clock.
Ansonia’s clocks include mantel clocks with painted china cases, beehive shelf clocks, shelf clocks with glass domes and the regulator clock which was a weight driven, pendulum clock. So far, have I peaked your interest in looking for Connecticut clocks? Is the name Seth Thomas familiar? It should be. Seth Thomas began his career as an apprentice to renowned clockmaker Eli Terry. In 1810, Thomas bought Terry’s Connecticut factory and began making tall clocks with wooden movements as early as 1810. He used the wooden movement in his pillar and scroll clock cases with a scene painted on the case below the clock’s face. Brass movements replaced the wooden ones in 1842. Thomas was an innovator but conservative in the appearance of his clocks. After his death in 1859, his sons introduced new clock styles including clocks with calendars.
I hope you can take time to browse in an antique shop one of these days and check out the Connecticut Clocks. Seems to me, anyone of the company’ I’ve written about would make a nice collectible and certainly and nice gift…holidays are a comin’.