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Both a Calendar and a Clock

With the New Year fast approaching, we took a look at the Trade Literature Collection to locate catalogs advertising clocks or calendars. As you might guess, there are quite a few catalogs about clocks. But some of these companies didn’t just sell clocks. They sold calendar clocks. One of these companies is the Ithaca Calendar Clock Co.

The Ithaca Calendar Clock Co. was located in Ithaca, New York. In 1882, at the time this catalog was printed, the company had been making calendar clocks for sixteen years. The trade catalog is titled Ithaca Calendar Clock Company’s Illustrated Catalogue and Price List.

front cover of Ithaca Calendar Clock Co. 1882 catalog
Ithaca Calendar Clock Co., Ithaca, NY. Ithaca Calendar Clock Company’s Illustrated Catalogue and Price List, 1882, front cover of catalog.

 

So, what is a calendar clock? It is a combination clock and calendar. Besides telling time, it also gives the date. “The Ithaca Calendar Clock indicates perpetually, the hour of the day, the day of the week, the day of the month, the month of the year…” The calendars were available in several languages including English, French, German, Swedish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian.

 

Ithaca Calendar Clock No. 4 Hanging Office Clock
Ithaca Calendar Clock Co., Ithaca, NY. Ithaca Calendar Clock Company’s Illustrated Catalogue and Price List, 1882, page 9, No. 4 Hanging Office Calendar Clock.

 

Ithaca Calendar Clock Co. manufactured both spring and weight clocks. The No. 4 Hanging Office Calendar Clock illustrated above is a spring clock. The No. 1 Regulator Clock shown below is a weight clock.

 

Ithaca Calendar Clock No. 1 Regulator Clock
Ithaca Calendar Clock Co., Ithaca, NY. Ithaca Calendar Clock Company’s Illustrated Catalogue and Price List, 1882, page 5, No. 1 Regulator Calendar Clock.

 

These clocks were so smart, they even knew if it was a leap year. Shown below is part of the inner workings of the clock. This included the “8-year wheel” and crooked wire. The wheel has two notched or boot shaped teeth which assist the clock in producing 29 days for Leap Year Februarys. “When the calendar shows a Leap-Year February, this wire should rest upon a notched tooth–for the February next succeeding Leap-Year it should rest upon the tooth marked 1, and for succeeding Februarys upon those marked 2 and 3, respectively, after which a Leap-Year is again reached.” Each year on March 1st, the crooked wire drops into a slot between the teeth and stays there until February 1st of the next year. The slot it rests in depends on which year it is–whether it is a Leap Year, the first year after a Leap Year, and so on. A more detailed explanation can be found with the illustration below.

 

Ithaca Calendar Clock Co. directions for correcting a displaced calendar
Ithaca Calendar Clock Co., Ithaca, NY. Ithaca Calendar Clock Company’s Illustrated Catalogue and Price List, 1882, directions for correcting a displaced calendar. Click to enlarge.

 

Before a calendar clock was shipped from the factory, each clock underwent thorough testing. A special machine was used to run the clock “through all the changes of eight years of time.” Once the clock passed the testing and was “proved in all respects accurate and reliable,” it was finally shipped to its new home.

This trade catalog and others by Ithaca Calendar Clock Co. are located in the Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library.

 

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