In 2007, the California Clock Company will celebrate the 75th anniversary of an American icon, the Kit-Cat Klock. ("Every 3 minutes for the past 70 years, someone has purchased a Kit-Cat Klock!")
The tradition was begun in 1932, during the Great Depression, when part of the Kit-Cat creed was to "put a smile on everyone's face." The earliest clocks were first wind-up, then electric, and came only in black. By about 1954, when bow ties made their appearance, a second set of front paws and different colors had already been added to the line. And when the company changed its name in the early 1960's from Allied Manufacturing to California Clock, it began producing limited edition Klocks in more colors and designs. Limited Editions (colors and crystal-decorated) are produced for just one year, after which they are retired.
By 1989, the increasing costs of electric motors prompted California Clock to develop a battery-operated system that could reliably run the clock and the pendulum movement of the tail and eyes. No electric Klocks were produced after that year, and, needless to say, those older electric clocks, depending on working order and general condition, are generally commanding the higher auction prices. A traditional black model from the 1940's recently sold online for $193.52, while a 1960's black, jeweled model fetched a tidy $354 at auction. It has been estimated that the very earliest wind-up models could easily garner bids up to $10,000, depending on condition, due to their extreme rarity.
California Clock's Kit-Cat website (see link below) offers everything a collector could want to know about this fun and functional collectible, including charts for dating a Klock according to designs, colors, and markings; troubleshooting; replacement parts; history; free stuff; and Official Fan Club.
Of course, California Clock has not been the only manufacturer of feline pendulum wall clocks. During the Great Depression, the Lux Clock Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, Connecticut, made several versions of their wind-up "Pendulettes" in the form of kittycats (see link below).
Pink Cloud Gallery (see link below) is one of a number of companies making specially designed cat wall clocks today. Featuring the work of artist couple Peter Hill and Tara Cafiero, their colorful cat pendulum clocks also come costumed in Pj's and Hawaiian shirts and as well as doctors, pirates, and ballet dancers, among others.
And 2006 saw the introduction of the Mr. Meow Wall Clock - with moving eyes, mouth, and tail - that announces the hour with a rendition of the Meow Mix song! (For a demonstration, go to http://digbig.com/4pfck and click on "watch movie clip." Funny!)
For more information on Kit-Cat Klocks, and on clocks in general, the following resources are recommended:
"Clock Repair: Basics," by Steven G. Conover
"The Official Price Guide to Clocks," by Frederick W. Korz
"Warman's American Clocks Field Guide," by Harriett Swedberg, Robert W. Swedberg
Great links section!
"The Official Kit-Cat Website" for the California Clock Company.
Kit Cat Clock (KCC) Service Center
Authorized independent repair shop, specializing in parts, repair, and restoration of electric Kit-Cat clocks. Also offers a 6-page service guide for do-it-yourselfers.
The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc.
Founded in 1943, this international organization has over 38,000 members, and administers a library, school of clock and watch repair, and The National Watch and Clock Museum. Website offers articles, links, convention schedule, message board/forum, more. Curious about a ship's clock bell strikes? Try this page!
The National Watch and Clock Museum
"Recognized as the largest and most comprehensive horological collection in North America", the museum's collection has increased to over 12,000 items since its opening in 1977. Online gift shop
Animated display of Pendulette clocks.
Pink Cloud Gallery
Commercial site offering specially-designed clocks.
"Worldwide distributor of clock parts and repair material" including Kit-Cat, Lux, many more.