One of the coolest things yet on the blog: A working Kit-Cat clock! In celebration of the 80th anniversary of this American icon, I connected with the nice folks at the California Clock Company — the sole manufacturers of the Kit-Cat Clock — and they gave me the pieces to make my own little online eyes-moving, tail-wagging Kit-Cat clock. I have named him Englebert. Happy birthday, K-C, you don’t look a day over 21! Seriously, the Kit-Cat clock has an illustrious past — and a remarkable present — including the dedication of the company’s owner to keep it Made in the USA. Read on for more about the fabulous Kit-Cat clock.
Made in the USA — for 80 years
One of the things that I learned in my conversation with the California Clock Company, is that the only changes to Kit-Cat clock in the past few decades have come when various component manufacturers started moving their production overseas. But Woody Young, the owner of the company, did not want such a famous piece of Americana to have made-in-Wherever parts — he wanted everything Made in the USA (with occasional exceptions, such as the special-edition clocks made with Austrian crystals.) So, there have been some redesigns to the internals to make sure the company could get all the parts here. That is: They spent money — they went the extra mile — to keep the jobs in America. Wow. The Kit-Cat clock continues to be super popular today — not only in the U.S. but also all around the world. An export! There’s even a fan club and a Kit-Cat® Creed:
Put a smile on everyone’s face;
Love in everyone’s heart;
Energy in everyone’s body;
and Be a positive force in everyone’s life!
History and how to date of a vintage Kit-Cat clock
The Kit-Cat clock was born in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. And while it’s had some minor modifications over the years, it’s pretty much the same swingin’ cat. The Kit-Cat history page is excellent at providing info about marks and features that can help you date a vintage clock (tip: Dinner and a movie are always appropriate.) Here’s just a tidbit:
If the back of the clock states “Portland, OR” it is late 30′s.
If the back of the clock states “Seattle, WA” it was made in the 40′s if it is a metal back.
If the back of the clock states “Seattle, WA” with a plastic back and no front paws it was made in the early 50′s.
If the back of the clock states “Seattle, WA” with a plastic back and has front paws it was made mid to late 50′s.
The bow tie was added about 1954.
etc….see the website.
You can buy new Kit-Cat clocks today straight from the California Clock Company. They come in a large number of colors, and the company comes out with several special editions every year. There are also upgrades — like a Kit-Cat with a football helmet — oh, and increasingly, they have sports team colors on the clocks, too. Hmmm, Father’s Day is coming up, this gives me an idea.
You also can find vintage clocks at places like ebay (affiliate link):