New Haven Short Drop Octagon – two curious features

I recently purchased a vintage Canadian made New Haven 8-day short drop octagon time and strike clock. It is in the familiar style of a schoolhouse clock.

The New Haven Clock Company lasted just over 100 years.

Sadly, The New Haven Clock Company lasted just over 100 years. Much of the history of the New Haven Clock Company comes from this informative site.

In 1853 the Haven Clock Company was founded in New Haven, Connecticut by Hiram Camp (1811‑1892) and other clock-makers. The company’s mission was to mass produce inexpensive brass clock movements for use in clocks. In April, 1856 The New Haven Clock Company buys out a competitor’s company, the Jerome Clock Company. They move their production to the former Jerome factory and New Haven begins making clocks under their own trademark. In 1870 some of New Haven’s clocks are marketed under the Jerome & Co. brand.

In 1885 the company stopped selling clocks other than their own New Haven brand. In 1890 the company developed serious financial problems and efforts were made to keep it solvent until 1897 at which time the company emerges from reorganization. In 1902 Walter Chauncey Camp (1859-1925) began to turn the company around. In 1923 Walter Camp steps down as head of the company and is succeeded by Edwin P. Root.

In 1929 Richard H. Whitehead replaces Root as president of the company but by this time New Haven is again facing financial difficulties which is compounded when the Great Depression hits in November, 1929. Whitehead is able to keep the company afloat during these troubled times and the firm becomes profitable once again. From 1943 to 1945 the company uses its manufacturing plant to aid in the war effort, producing products almost exclusively for military use. In March of 1946 The New Haven Clock and Watch Company becomes the new name of the firm after it reorganizes once again. It returns to what it did best before the War, once again making clocks and watches.

The 1946 reorganization eventually leaves the company vulnerable to foreign investors and it loses control to a consortium of Swiss watchmakers. The man who had successfully shepherded the company through the hard times of the Depression years, resigns as president. In 1956 the New Haven Clock and Watch Company files Chapter 10 bankruptcy in a U.S. court. Its fortunes have declined precipitously since Whitehead’s departure and it never recovers. In 1960 the company goes out of business and the production lines are closed. The facilities are sold through a combination of public auction and private negotiation in March of 1960.

The New Haven Clock Co. of Canada was established at Brantford, Ontario (Canada) in 1906. The New Haven Clock Company of Canada was a subsidiary of the New Haven Clock Company of America. Both mantel and wall clocks were made in the Brantford plant with Canadian wood cases, but the spring-driven pendulum movements were brought in from the U.S. The Canadian arm of the New Haven Clock Company closed in 1956.

This clock was made in the 1930s and taken out of a decommissioned one-room schoolhouse in 1963.

New Haven schoolhouse clock
New Haven schoolhouse clock

I am always fascinated by a clock’s history and I always ask a seller how much they know about it

I am always fascinated by a clock’s history and I always ask a seller how much they know about it. I believe a clock’s provenance is almost as important as the clock itself. The seller, a man in this seventies, related in great detail how he acquired the clock from the Lone Spruce School in Invermay Saskatchewan in 1963 when the municipality was selling off school assets. Saskatchewan is a western province of Canada. Invermay Sask is a village in the east-central region of Saskatchewan, Canada with a population of 247 in 2011. Invermay is about 75 km west of Canora or about 50 km east of Wadena on Highway 5.

New Haven clock instructions
New Haven clock instructions

Lone Spruce school was built between 1913 to 1915 on the west side of section 1 township 34 range 8 west of the second meridian, and it is noted by local historian Caroline McDonald, that the school was 1/2 mile north from each of the north and south corners of the section of land. Classes opened under Mr. Oliver, during World War 1. A new school was needed around 1950-1951, and the new school yard chosen was section 8 township 34 range 7 west of the second meridian, the old school yard having been two miles to the west of the new school. The old school house sat empty for 10 years and was removed in 1959-60. When the new school closed for classes, the Lone Spruce school house was re-located into Hazel Dell around 1959-1960 and decommissioned in 1963 at which time its assets were sold.

Why a school board would order time and strike clocks is an interesting question.

#331 appears on the inside access door. The number 331 was likely an inventory number that referred to one of a lot purchased by the municipality in the 1930s. Why a school board would order time and strike clocks is an interesting question. My other schoolhouse clocks are time-only. Why the access door is a solid sash rather than glazed is another curious question. The combination of the solid sash and time & strike movement must have hit a particular price point for the school board at that time. The teachers were likely instructed not to wind the strike side.

Time zone clocks
Time zone clocks

The New Haven clock is now one of three “time zone” clocks on our kitchen wall. I have a daughter in Victoria BC, and a daughter in Calgary, Alberta and at a glance I can see the time in those two regions of Canada. The New Haven clock is our local time; the Victoria clock is a Waterbury and the Calgary clock is a Sessions.

This clock is on my calendar for servicing which I will cover in an upcoming article.


5 thoughts on “New Haven Short Drop Octagon – two curious features

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