Older readers growing up in the rural areas of Canada and American have fond memories of the one-room schoolhouse clock located in the front or rear of the classroom. Just how did the schoolhouse clock get its name?
As the teacher instructed the students to work quietly on their own students would look up furtively at the clock anticipating the next recess. Students learned about time, how it regimented the day, how it seemed to move slowly and yet so quickly. Can you imagine the privileged child selected to wind the clock once per week.
With a swinging pendulum visible from a distance, the clock can easily be seen running. The open-door bottom access sash allowed for restarting and adjusting the rate. The vast majority were American clocks though Canada produced its fair share of schoolhouse clocks. Time-only movements were very popular because they had fewer moving parts, noiseless except for the ticking sound, were simpler to maintain and would run well for years even if very worn.
The schoolhouse clock came to be known as a particular style of clock found in school settings. If a particular style was ordered by a school authority manufacturers might have informally described them as clocks for schools or “school clocks”. In any event, the term, “schoolhouse clock” has become part of the lexicon of the clock collector.
Today, the distinctive schoolhouse clock is known as a drop octagon by clock collectors.
Most schoolhouse clocks are 8-day running, constructed of oak, have a brass dial bezel, bottom glazed access sash, 9 or 12-inch dial with the majority being time-only. A time-only clock provides less distraction in the classroom environment than those clocks making a striking sound.
None of the labels on my clocks have the word “schoolhouse” written on them. They are either described as a “drop octagon” or have a specific model name
In some clock circles it is said that schoolhouse clocks are a derivative of the English drop dial fusee clock such as the one seen in an Irish pub in Killarney (above photo).
None of the labels on my clocks have the word “schoolhouse” written on them. They are either described as a “drop octagon” or have a specific model name.
Here are a few schoolhouse clocks from my collection. Enjoy!
“Special edition” clocks inspired by the classic schoolhouse wall clock are still sold today though you will find a quartz movement inside
“Special edition” clocks inspired by the classic schoolhouse wall clock are still sold today though you will find a quartz movement inside.
The classroom was not only place for the schoolhouse clock. Many found their way into homes across Canada and the US. My grandparents had a Waterbury time and strike schoolhouse clock in their kitchen that I remember well as a young boy (the preview clock for this post).
Schoolhouse clocks evoke fond memories for the older generation today and fortunately many have been preserved for generations to come.