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Pennwood Numechron Clocks were produced by the Pennwood Numechron Company, one of the first clock manufacturers to market a digital clock.
Brief history and description
Located in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, the company was initially founded as the Pennwood Electric Company in the 1930s and manufactured a range of industrial timers as well as various electric devices.
The mechanism used in Pennwood Numechron clocks was invented by an employee of the firm, Frederick A. Greenawalt and was patented in 1935. Pennwood Numechron were in direct competition with fellow clock manufacturer Lawson and the firms earliest clocks were expensive models with elaborately designed cases.
During the late 1930s and 1940s, no companies did more to commercialise the digital clock than Pennwood Numechron and Lawton. However, with the introduction and increasing regularity of televisions in American homes, Pennwood Numechron began to produce a series of novelty, less expensive models that were shaped like miniature television sets.
The Pennwood Numechron Company remained in business until 1972 when it was bought by the Spartus Corporation. The distinctive style of Pennwood clocks was maintained for several more years until production was ceased completely.
Guide for collectors
Despite not being made for over three decades, the sheer numbers of Pennwood Numechron clocks means that they are still commonplace. Pennwood Numechron clocks did not have the build quality or aesthetic value as some of their higher end counterparts, such as the Telechron Company and as a result, Pennwood clocks, particularly the ubiquitous TV Tymeter of the 1950s, can be bought from as little as £2 on online bidding sites such as eBay.
Some of the earlier Pennwood Numechron clocks, built in the 1930s, were designed in the Art-Deco style and even later models had a somewhat Art-Deco look. The “Moderne”, produced from 1948 is a good example of a late Pennwood Numechron Art-Deco orientated clock.
Most models of Pennwood Numechron clocks were mass produced. Nonetheless, the company did manufacture a few models with a limited assembly line. Collectors should look out for commemorative clocks that were commissioned by either government sectors or corporate businesses. These rare, often bespoke models of clocks, were typically awarded to high-flying executives or salesmen.
It is very straightforward for collectors to verify the date of Pennwood Numechron clocks, as the majority of models were marked with their manufacture date. On the back of each clock is usually a yellow sticker with a rubber stamp with the date.
A rare Pennwood Numechron TV Tymeter clock that bore a portrait of W.A. Boyle, President of the United Mine Workers of America, was sold on eBay for $40 in January 2012. The clock represented a unique piece of memorabilia, not only for a clock collector, but also for a mid-twentieth century American mining enthusiast. Thought to have been made in the late-1960s, the piece was in good condition and was fully functioning.
A common model of the Pennwood Numechron TV Tymeter series was sold in January 2012 on eBay for just $4. The clock had a few external marks but was otherwise in a good condition.
A 1940 Pennwood Numechron Art-Deco marbleized Bakelite digital electric clock was on eBay, in January 2012, for $45.
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