What Kind of Clocks Did People Have in 1913?

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, May 18, 1913:  Went to Sunday School this afternoon. Had to hurry some while on the way, for I thought I would be later and I was.

Source: Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine (December 15, 1911)

Source: Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (December 15, 1911)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma–How late were you? . . .a few minutes? . .  half an hour? Weren’t the clocks working quite right at home?

According to Wikipedia, wrist watches didn’t become popular until the 1920s. What kinds of clocks did your family have? . . . a wind-up alarm clock? . . . a wind-up pocket watch?  . . . a grandfather’s clock?. . . some other kind of pendulum clock?

DSC07054

Source: Osgood’s American Sixth Reader

29 Responses

  1. I find it interesting that upscale decorator studios often feature clocks similar to Big Ben.

    • My eclectic furnishings must be more stylish than I realized. I have a grandfather’s clock that my maternal grandfather made from a kit in the 1970s. :)

  2. Did women have pocket watches like men did? I remember my grandparents had clocks on the mantlepiece and they were old clocks probably from the early part of the twentieth century, if not earlier.

    • I think that some women had watches that they wore as necklaces on chains or ribbons.

      • That sounds elegant. I have been googling about one of your earlier posts where your grandmother talks of varnishing furniture. My googling has led me to the importance of New Zealand kauri gum in varnishes and linoleum in past years. Wouldn’t it be fun if your grandmother was using a little piece on NZ on the furniture?

      • I remember women wearing small watches pinned to the bosom of their dress but, where i spent my childhood, very few women could afford a watch and there were many men who depended on being able to ask someone else what time it was.

  3. Oh, wow! I think I like the simplicity of both people and clocks in the past. We have so many devices now that we miss the one important thing, “Time” itself. We can get so busy we forget to really spend quality time for ourselves and the people we care about. I’m guilty of that sometimes.

  4. I have no excuse – I have a million clocks–but some do not work and some are not changed for the spring ahead fall back thing–so I am confused much of the time–is that a good excuse?

  5. My grandparents had a “grandfather clock”. It was so beautiful and had a wonderful deep chime.

    • I have a grandfather’s clock. It’s a lot of fun. Sometimes it’s tempermental, but it’s to try to keep it running.

  6. I had a wind up Big Ben when I was a kid. That’s how I had to wake up for school. And the dial was glow in the dark.

  7. We had a simple wall clock that was above the kitchen table that the family used. In my teenage years, the radio was used for our early morning rush because a couple of the radio stations catered to high schoolers.

    • During my teen years, we had a battery-operated clock in the kitchen that never seemed to keep the right time. We always were adding or subtracting 5 or 10 minutes from what the dial said to adjust for it going faster when there was a new battery . . and slower when the battery was about at the end of its life.

  8. We had a simple wall clock above the kitchen table to keep time for the family.

  9. We had a Big Ben. There was no oversleeping with that alarm! Had to keep it wound, though.

  10. My mom sometimes had a Big Ben…or a Baby Ben! I’d never really thought about life before wrist watches…

    • It seems like it would have been really hard to keep track of time–though pocket watches probably fulfilled a function similar to wrist watches back then.

  11. I have my grandfather’s fob watch Sheryl. I’m not sure how old it is but he died in 1946. I wonder what type of clock Helena’s family did have, probably something beautiful, as clocks were back then. :)

  12. Helena was a little before my time but even during my growing up years the time of day was usually an estimate. The clocks and watches that most people had were low budget wind-up models that were never very accurate so every visitor was asked what the time was. A visitor with a well regulated ‘Railroad’ watch was especially appreciated.

  13. I know that feeling, I’m constantly sleeping thru too many snooze alarms, LOL I actually bought a cute vintage wind up clock for only $9. I loved the faded face and font on the numbering. But it ‘tics’ so dang loud I can’t use it. HA! So it’s just a cheap and cute paper weight on my desk.

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