The Pressed Wood Kitchen Clock

Pequegnat Canuck kitchen clock

Ah, the kitchen clock!

Most clock enthusiasts have at least one kitchen clock in their collection and some collect them exclusively. I am not a huge fan of them but they very popular and considered important clocks because of their relatively low cost and availability.

Thousands of inexpensive oak-cased clocks were made by various American and Canadian manufacturers in the late 19th Century to the early part of the 20th Century. They are cheap, plentiful, reliable and easy to regulate.

They were typically sold in box lots of a half a dozen or so to merchants and offered for sale to customers for a unit price of around $4.50.

Although commonly called the kitchen clock it is sometimes called the pressed wood clock.

The designs were created by using high pressure rotary presses on oak wood that had been pre-steamed to soften it. The front of the clocks frequently displayed glass tablets with bronze or silver gilt designs.

This Arthur Pequegnat Canuck clock (above) is a typical pressing with floral designs on the top crown, base, and side columns, two upper rosettes and a framed access door with a floral style glass tablet.

Pressing designs into wood was much less expensive and quicker than machine carving, though the designs tended to be taken to excess at times like we see on this Sessions Grand Assortment with a top heavy ornate crown.

Sessions Grand Assortment

American manufacturers offered kitchen clocks with slight variations in the configuration of the case components and the decoration on the glass panel. It was common to name or number the clocks and present them as part of a series.

All kitchen clocks were 8-day running and featured either a one piece or two-piece 6-inch painted dial with Roman or Arabic numerals, railroad track minute chapter ring, and blued moon shaped or spade hands. A pendulum regulated the timing. The clocks included a half-hour strike on a bell or a coiled gong and some were offered with both bell on the half-hour strike and coiled gong on the hour. Additional features such as an alarm added pennies to the cost.

With inexpensive changes in the design for the press and minor changes to the case elements, clocks of different designs could be produced. Design elements for the pendulum varied between a plain round bob to a decorative pendulum bob in many pressed wood kitchen clocks.

Steam pressed designs were not confined to kitchen clocks and quickly found their way to wall clocks like the Gilbert Admiral.

Gilbert Admiral drop octagon wall clock

I have about 100 clocks in my collection and only two are steam-pressed. It is not a style that I am actively seeking but, admittedly, some are attractive. They are easy enough to find, fairly cheap and are relatively uncomplicated to service.

3 thoughts on “The Pressed Wood Kitchen Clock

  1. Thanks Ron. I had often wondered how such ornate ‘carvings’ could be achieved in such great volumes at so low a price. Now I know.


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