Thursday, July 9, 2015

Living Room Clock

I had my dining room and Kitchen clocks and thought that I needed to keep my eyes open for something for the living room.  So many beautiful and interesting clocks were marketed during the mid-century. I spent about 3 weeks browsing the web and Ebay checking out the European and American clocks, as well as, looking at many of the recent Chinese knock-offs; reading the reviews and trying to decide between Electric, Battery, or Wind-up and Vintage, Licensed Reproduction or just plain copies.
Looking at Mid Century Clocks for the Living Room 

I loved many of the vintage starburst clocks (Lux, Elgin, Verichron, Welby, Seth Thomas and of course Howard Miller) but really didn't like the idea of an electrical wire hanging down the wall from my clock to a plug (or worse an extension cord!). I found that clockworks sold modern battery driven works to replace the electric motors on many of the vintage clocks and had fairly strongly decided on getting a big, old vintage Lux and putting a modern battery driven clockwork in it when I walked into the Consignment Store in Corte Madera and saw laying flat on a table what looked like a Howard Miller (Herman's son) / George Nelson Designed starburst.

I had looked at many, many of the various Nelson designed clocks and loved the playful colors and designs but the modern knockoffs were quality challenged (!!!) and the vintage one's I had seen on auction sites, Ebay and 1stDibs were going for over $1,000.

Howard Miller Model # 4755 Ball Clock Retail 1964: $30.00

Electric Nelson Ball Clock in Black and Gold Retail 2015: $1,200
Here was a modern re-production made under license by Vitra that wasn't $640. The design was one that I had seen but really hadn't considered for our living room as, like most people, was enamored by the colored ball model that really stood out but because of my budget constraints I had to take a closer look at this clock.

In his book "George Nelson: The Design of Modern Design" Stanley Abercrombie describes an evening at Nelson's where, as remembered by Nelson, he was joined by Buckminster Fuller and Isamu Noguchi and through an evening of drinking and playing with ideas for clocks on a roll of butcher paper, each trying to 'best' the other, when the men woke up the next day and looked at what they had drawn the now Iconic ball clock was in the mix. Nelson and Bucky both comment they think Isamu drew it first as "...[he] has a genius for doing two stupid things and making it extraordinary...out of the combination." A great story of the creative process and how synergy creates a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts.

Looking through Nelson's catalog I found the model in the consignment store was Howard Miller Model # 2239 Spool/Spindle Clock Diameter: 22.5" with a Retail value 1957: UNKNOWN.

I made an offer on the clock and two days later the store owner called me back and said the clock was mine. It will look great on the living room wall. 

Vitra Nelson Spindle Clock 

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