Since the earliest patents date from 1933, its not
many of these designs show Art Deco or streamline
manufacturer of typewriters and then clocks, Barr
Manufacturing of Weedsport, NY made at least
two digital models. One had wooden case of rather
plain design; the other, a plastic model, offered
an attractive streamlined look and came in black,
brown and white.
Barr digital clocks are somewhat uncommon and even
more uncommon in good working order. Barr's
mechanism was unique. The wheels were metal and
they interlocked via gear teeth on the inside of
the wheels. If you dissemble a set of Barr wheels,
be prepared to spend an evening trying to
reassemble them in proper orientation. Even with
proper assembly, the Barr mechanism had difficulty
positioning the facets of the wheels so the numbers
lined up properly.
for Barr's patent.
Interesting trivia: (1) Although the wheels were
metal, the numbers on some Barr digital clocks were
printed on plain paper that was glued to the
The Barr's inventor, E.M. Goldsmith, Jr. worked for
M.M. Gottlieb Associates, who made the Telometer
clock (see below). (3) E.M.
Goldsmith, F.A. Greenawalt (inventor of the
Pennwood/Lawson mechanism and Lindley Lawson were
all from Pennsylvania.
Left to right: Pennwoood model
1364, Pennwood Zephyr, an uncommon desk model with
Parker "Parkette" pen & pencil
company did more to popularize the rolling wheel
digital clock than Pennwood. Lawson and Pennwood
produced clocks for about the same length of time,
but dating Pennwood clocks is easier since most
were were marked with their date of manufacture.
Initially, this was done with a label and
1940s, with a decal or rubber stamp.
for the mechanism used in Pennwood (and Lawson)
clocks was granted to Frederick A. Greenawalt, an
employee of the Pennwood Company. Greenawalt's
patent, issued in February 1935, closely resembles
the mechanisms that ended up in Lawson and Pennwood
clocks with the exception that he did not specify a
type of motor. Initially, the motors and gearing
came from the Waltham Watch Company. Clickhere
for Greenawalt's patent.
Although Pennwood and Lawson clocks had nearly
identical mechanisms, the two companies approached
the clock market differently. The earliest Pennwood
clocks were high-end models with fancy cases.
However, in the 1940s, Pennwood shifted its
emphasis to less expensive models, the majority
having plastic cases. When TV became commonplace,
Pennwood caught the wave with a series of novelty
clocks shaped like little TV sets. Although these
TV clocks haven't been made for decades, so many
were sold that they are still commonplace.
Many early Pennwood clocks were Art Deco in style
and even some 1950s-1970s models had a vaguely Deco
appearance. A later model that reallydid
have a Deco look was the appropriately named
Moderne. This model was available in white,
silver-gray and a marbleized coral color. Yet
another example of an item that appears to be from
the 1930s or 1940s but isn't.
manufactured Jan. 5, 1958
Interesting trivia: (1) Only the very earliest
Pennwood clocks have all-black numbers. Early on,
the switch was made to
having the seconds displayed in red. Pennwood had
other color schemes as well but never returned to
all-black. (2) Pennwood clocks often
repeating design elements. The small triangle at
the top of the #1364 above is actually the Pennwood
crest which also appears as a decal on the back of
the clock. The base on the pen & pencil set has
the same "wings" on the sides as the clock case
has. (3) The earliest (and nicest) wooden Pennwood
cases were made by Adler-Royal, a New York radio
manufacturer who made radio cabinets in Louisville,
SMITH METAL ARTS ("SMA", Silver Crest, Moon Crest)
Smith Metal Arts of Buffalo, New York has the
distinction of being the only manufacturer
that still operates under its own name and still
produces the type of goods it traditionally made
desk sets. In the 1940s-60s, Smith made a line of
desk accessories including clocks. Smith's clock
designs were more conservative than Lawson's and I
suspect that's why
clocks, particularly the Silver Crest models (which
aren't silver in
or color, by the way) turn up so often--they
to a larger audience.
Smith purchased clock mechanisms from
both Pennwood and Lawson.
Some Smith cases were drilled for both brands so
either type could be used. Nontheless,Smith Metal Arts clocks are Smith Metal Arts
clocks; they were not made or sold by Pennwood or
Lawson who had more than enough models of their
Interesting trivia: (1) The metal strip on the
clock pictured above was for engraving the owner's
initials. (2) Designer Peter Muller-Monk designed
some Smith Metal Arts' products. He also
several Pennwood clock cases and the base of the
Unisphere for the 1964-65 World's Fair. (3) As with
Goldsmith, Greenawalt and Lawson, Muller-Monk was
also a Pennsylvania resident. Many (all?) Silver
Crest clocks are marked "202" so this obviously
isn't a model designation.
history of Henry Warren and his Ashland,
Massachusetts company is worthy of a book.
Fortunately, there is one. I highly
Jim Linz' Electrifying Time.
Although cyclometer clocks were by no means the
mainstay of Telechron's product line, the company
did market a number of models from as early as
1933, to World War II. Interestingly, after the
war, during 1946-48 Telechron/G.E. offered two more
models...and these appear to have been made from
parts supplied by Lawson(!).
There were vertical Telechron cyclometers and
later, horizontal models. At least two models were
designed by Walter Dorwin Teague, the man who
brought the modern look to Kodak, Ford and Texaco,
Warren kept the patent office busy. For Edgar
Bourquin's patent for the vertical cyclometer,
left to right: Two early, vertical Telechrons
c.1933-36; an early G.E. digital model
left to right: G.E. model 8B08, case design by John
Rainbault; Telechron Baron model 8B07 (1936-39),
case design by Walter Teague; Telechron 8B23
(1946-48), essentially a "re-branded" Lawson
TELECHRON (Warren Telechron, General Electric,
If the Pennwood/Lawson clock mechanism was a model
of simplicity, at the other extreme were
Telechron's digital models which, with their
complex all-metal mechanisms are a wonder to
For Teague's patent on the Baron design,
For Teague's "New Executive" model, clickhere.
For John Rainbault's patent, clickhere.
Interesting trivia: (1) For clocks, self-starting
motors were a mixed blessing. If the power failed
and was then restored, a clock with a self-starting
motor would resume working with no indication that
anything had gone wrong. The red indicator dot
mechanism, invented and patented by Warren gave
fair warning that although the clock was running,
the time might not be correct. (2) The two
Telechron/G.E. models that appear to
been supplied by Lawson have unique riveted feet
and motors with sealed rotor mechanisms in the
WINSLOW MANUFACTURING COMPANY
Winslow digital clocks were unique in that instead
of using rolling wheels, the numbers were on a
series of flat metal discs, allowing for an
unusually slim case. Also unusual was that
Winslow's cases were made of Catalin, an early
plastic capable of achieving extremely rich colors.
Supposedly, many colors were offered but so far I
have seen only white
with Catalin, when exposed to UV light, turns
butterscotch) and a marbleized walnut color. Due to
the case design, Winslow clocks typically develop
cracks but if one is lucky they are not visible
from the front.
Interesting trivia: (1) The Winslow mechanism made
a second appearance in a wooden cased model called
the Telometer. (2) Jim Linz' Telechron book shows a
patent for a flat disc digital clock, seemingly the
basis for the Winslow. (3) A curious and surprising
(at least it was to me) feature of the Winslow
mechanism is that the minute disc turns in the
opposite direction from the other two discs.
GOTTLIEB ASSOCIATES (Telometer)
It may be a stretch to call the Telometer an Art
Deco style clock but the reason the Telometer is
included here is that it appears to have been the
final resting place for the design used in the
Winslow clock. The mechanisms in the Winslow and
the Gottlieb's Telometer are the same, but we can
tell from the 1950s-style numbers on the wheels
that the Telometer came later. Whatever its style,
the Telometer's elaborate wooden case is impressive
and rather attractive, I think.