Ithaca Calendar Clock Patent Model
Calendar clocks were invented in Ithaca, and are still being produced today by the Ithaca Calendar Clock Company in Freeville, NY. The DeWitt Historical Society has acquired a great deal of information on the famous Ithaca Company, not to mention a few of its original creations. This specific clock is a patent model that was designed by James E. and Eugene M. Mix. The Mix brothers had made improvements to the original calendar clock design and this model was sent to the patent office in 1860.
Calendar clocks were invented by Mr. J. H. Hawes of Ithaca, who secured his patent in 1853. Later, more improvements were made when Mr. W. H. Atkins of Caroline collaborated with Joseph C. Burritt of Ithaca to improve the automatic operation of the calendar. Calendar clocks perpetually indicated the day of the month, month of the year, hour of the day, and day of the week. However, since the clock was mechanical there were problems with the calendar days of February regarding leapyear. Atkins and Burritt worked to solve this problem, and eventually came up with a model that could change mechanically with the leap year. Their solution was later refined by the Mix brothers. However, there were still aspects of the clock that needed improving, and another inventive Ithaca genius stepped in to further improve the clock’s performance. After Mr. H. B. Horton's improvements, the clock was practically perfect. The patents he secured were eventually bought by the Ithaca Calendar Clock Company which utilized his design to create calendar clocks that brought the Company worldwide fame.
The peak of prosperity for the Company was in the 1800s, when they produced around 30 different types of clocks. Then, unfortunately in 1920, Ithaca Calendar Clock had to close its doors. Its demise was partly due to the efforts of prohibition, since a considerable percentage of the company's business came from brewers and distributors, who gave the clocks as premiums to their customers. The clocks that the Company produced are still found in many collections public and private collections, keeping perfect time and accurately recording calendar changes from day to day. Fortunately, the Ithaca Calendar Clock Co. was able to re-establish itself in 1981, and now continues to make a small number of the Calendar Clocks by hand.
"The Life and Death of the Ithaca Calendar Clock Co." by James W. Gibbs