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What was the Art Deco style originally known as?

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Art Deco Collectibles: Fashionable Objets from the Jazz Age
by Rodney Capstick-Dale &
Diana Capstick-Dale

In the 1920s and 1930s the Art Deco style influenced everything from art and architecture, interiors and furnishings, automobiles and boats to the small, personal objects that were part of everyday life: Featuring high-quality photography and vintage illustrations and ephemera, this book brings these objects to life in exquisite detail for the first time. The objects in this themed book encompass the Deco style at its most alluring, as well as the modernity, excitement, and social revolution of the Jazz Age.

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Tic Toc Deco
by Bob Brooke


The Art Deco style permeated many facets of design, including clocks. From the 1920s and 1930s, no object escaped the its streamline touch.

The French and Swiss excelled in producing Art Deco clocks. The French already had a reputation for making fine mantel clocks. They used marble, onyx, brass, glass, and chrome in their Deco clocks. Many of these clocks had columns on their sides and Roman numerals on their faces. French clockmakers designed other clocks for desks. These often sat on marble bases supported on nickel feet, with the clock flanked by a pair of inkwells.

Some French clocks featured bronze figurines of classical goddesses. Animals were also common, with bronze, fantail doves, lovebirds, and gazelles popular choices. Beyond the desktop and mantel, the French also produced large grandfather clocks in the Art Deco style, some of which they made of rosewood with silver-finished faces and clear glass on the clocks’ pendulum doors.

French Art Deco clock designers included Edgar Brandt, whose hand-wrought, forged iron clocks typically sat on marble bases. Cartier also made all sorts of clocks, including square travel clocks with gold hands and black enameled handles. Compagnie Industrielle de Macanique Horelogere, which sold clocks under its JAZ brand, introduced a line of Art Deco clocks in 1934. These had round faces in colorful horizontal cases, and often incorporated mirrors into their designs.

The Swiss were also Art Deco clock masters. Arthur ImHof produced clocks featuring amber glass and chromed bronze. He also paired black Bakelite and patinated bronze with shiny chrome to provide contrast and accentuate the airplane-wing-like design of the clock’s base. LeCoultre also produced clocks made of Lucite and copper, among other materials.

In the United States, notable clock manufacturers such as Ingraham, Seth Thomas, Waltham, and Telechron produced a large number of Art Deco clocks for the home. The SK141 electric kitchen wall clock by Ingraham had a black painted wood case with chrome trim. Seth Thomas made a green, faux-marble transparent Catalin alarm clock, as well as a mantel clock formed from a block of clear, gold-bubble-infused Lucite.

Waltham clocks often framed its Deco clocks of marble or jade—some had silver numbers and hands. Telechron, a subsidiary of General Electric, also used Catalin, which it dyed in butterscotch hues . In the late 1920s, Telechron hired designer Paul Frankl to create the Modernique, which became known, derisively, as the $50 clock after the stock market crash of 1929.

Walter Dorwin Teague also designed Art Deco clocks for G.E., including a brown Bakelite clock. Raymond Loewy chose to do his clock-design work for Westinghouse— his slender, 54-inch tall Columaire Jr. housed both a clock and a radio, and spurred a slew of so-called Skyscraper clock-radio imitators.

The Herman Miller Clock Company of Zeeland, Michigan contracted with Gilbert Rohde to design a clock, made of beautifully grained ebony, with chrome accents, a brass second hand, and black enamel minute and hour hands, for the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair. Rohde designed a lot of clocks for Miller in the 1930s, including cylindrical clocks cased in Bakelite. He created some of veneered burlwood or rosewood, usually with chrome accents, while others featured black glass on a chrome base.

Lindley Spencer Lawson and his son, Harold, opened Lawson Clocks Limited in Los Angeles in 1934. Most of their clocks had architectural details found in Art Deco train stations, as in the Zephyr Clock, which had a curving, asymmetrical copper body with brass trim. Model 206 was a blocky clock incorporating a brass body, columns on the sides, and a digital readout in the center. The Arlington model was also digital, with a silver and glass case on a white alabaster base.

The Art Deco era had its share of novelty clocks. Airplane clocks made out of Bakelite and nickel were very popular, as were the Bakelite Vistascope clocks that had a recessed compartment above the clock’s dial to house an illuminated diorama of a three-dimensional object, such as a boat or a ship.

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