Friday, December 11, 2009

Connecticut clock manufacture

My Mom's hometown of Bristol, Connecticut, was a center of American clock manufacturing from the early 1800s. Much of the history centers on Elias Ingraham (1805-1885), who was associated with a series of clock companies during his lifetime:
  • Ray & Ingraham, 1841-1844
  • Brewster & Ingrahams, 1843-1852
  • E. & A. Ingrahams, 1852-1856
  • Elias Ingraham & Co., 1857-1860
  • E. Ingraham & Co., 1861-1880
  • The E. Ingraham & Co., 1881-1884
  • The E. Ingraham Co., Inc., 1884+
Elias built thousands, designed dozens, and patented 17 clock cases. He remained head of his company until his death at age 80, when he was succeeded by his son Edward (1830-1892). After World War II, Ingraham abandoned pendulum clocks in favor of electric and alarm clocks. The last incarnation of the company, Ingraham Co. (1958-1967) was sold to McGraw-Edison, which continues to make clocks using the Ingraham trademark. When I was a child, Mom took me to Bristol's American Clock and Watch Museum, established in 1954 by another Ingraham - perhaps the father of a girl she remembers going to school with.

The 1st image shows the factory of E. Ingraham & Co. The 2nd image shows a 22" oak Ingraham calendar cottage clock c. 1900, worth almost $1,ooo today. The 3rd image shows the 2" wide brass key used to wind such clocks, and the 4th image shows the instructions for doing so.

And here's something I have long wondered: Why were clocks in store displays and advertisements set at the time of 8:20 (and now at 10:10)? The 8:20 time, popularly believed to mark the time President Lincoln died, was intended to showcase the clock-manufacturer's trademark, which appeared above the "6." The 10:10 time, thought to be based on the time of death of President Kennedy, was in fact chosen to best frame the manufacturer's logo when it began appearing under the "12." Instilled in viewers' minds during the TV ad campaigns of Timex in the 1960s, it has since been informally adopted as an industry standard. (President Lincoln was assassinated at approximately 10:13pm and lay in a coma for 9 hours before being pronounced dead at 7:22am. President Kennedy was assassinated at 12:30pm and pronounced dead at 1 o'clock.)

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