Sunday, November 1, 2009

Swing Time

In honor of Daylight Savings Time, let’s talk about clocks today. Let's begin with this beautiful little wreck I found at the flea market last week: a MasterCrafters Swinger!

(Photo lightened somewhat to show the detail - the clock doesn't actually look like it's molded out of chocolate, in person.)

They’re known as "Swinger" clocks because they have a figurine attached to a pendulum mechanism that would swing back and forth. Most of them - including this one - had a girl on a swing, but some have both a boy and a girl, or a bird on a perch. Someone swiped the figurine from this particular example, which partly explains why I was able to snag it for a mere 5 bucks. (It was also dirty, greasy, cracked, and covered in duct tape.)

Most collectors know that Breyer’s first horse was designed as a component for a clock manufactured by the MasterCrafters Clock Company. Mike Jackson, at his Hartland History web site Hartland Westerns, goes into the history of the MasterCrafters Horse Clocks, and there’s no need to duplicate the effort here. (I have a few quibbles with it, but I’m in no mood to start a catfight over tone or details.)

Lesser known is the fact that Breyer made more than just the horse for MasterCrafters. It’s been difficult to track down which parts, and for which clocks precisely: the records (as always) are virtually nonexistent. So far only one clock - one that I discussed in one of my first posts - bears what appears to be an early Breyer mold mark. The clock in question:

It’s possible that the plastic components of the Swinger Clock were also manufactured by Breyer. Nancy Young notes in Breyer Molds & Models that Steve Ryan, during his brief tenure at Reeves in the early 1990s, claimed that Breyer molded those components, but in a footnote comments that Hartland expert Gail Fitch believes Hartland did. I took the opportunity of having a trashed and partially disassembled Swinger Clock to see if I could find any physical evidence one way or another.

Nothing. I found neither Hartland’s Iolite mark nor Breyer’s wavy-ribbon mark. The clock had been messed with before, so it’s possible something was lost or somewhere along the way. It’s also possible that I’m not looking in the right places, that my eyesight is shot, or that it never received any recognizable mold stamps in the first place.

It didn’t hurt to look; it was only a five dollar investment, and I had a fun afternoon disassembling, cleaning and repairing it, at least. (It’s my favorite part of the flea market process!) Once I’m finished repairing and rewiring it, I’ll probably stick something in the empty space left by the missing Swinger. But should it be a Stablemate, or a Tinymite? Decisions, decisions…


Tehana said...

Andrea, We must be on the same wavelength, I purchased one of these yesterday! I was going to do a post on blab about it but didn't get around to it (Like many things). Too odd!

Stockstill Stables said...

Someone else purchased one of these and was talking about it in Blab chat last night. Was that you Tehana?

ANDREA said...

Spooky - I almost logged into Blab chat the other night, but the computer was behaving badly and I decided against it.

I've been trying to lay low on Blab lately. Some folks are really starting to push my buttons, so I'll log off and do something more constructive. (Hooray for quilting!)

MasterCrafters Clocks aren't all that rare around here, but they're priced outrageously. The guy I bought this one from gave me the "It's rare and valuable!" spiel, too, but didn't get too far. (Hello, I see Duct Tape!)