Throughout history merchants, politicians and promotors have used advertising to persuade people to take some action. The desired action might be purchasing a particular brand of merchandise or lending support to a social or political cause. With the rise of mass produced clocks in the mid to late 19th century, a new form of advertising began to appear. What better place to advertise a product than on a clock in a public place that might get thousands of glances per day as people checked the time of day. "Advertising clocks" may take many different forms and styles; most common are wall clocks and shelf clocks, although longcase clocks have been used as an advertising medium as well. Any clock that displays a promotional message somewhere on its dial or case may be referred to as an advertising clock. They are often prized by collectors for reasons of nostalgia, historic significance or because of the collectible value of a specific brand, such as Coca-Cola.
Some advertsing clocks were created by enretpreneurs who modified standard, off-the-shelf clocks that could be bought by anyone. Other advertsing clocks were made by special order by the clock company itself In the late 1800's, two clockmaking companies that found great success making advertising clocks to order were the Baird Clock Co. and the Sidney Clock Advertising Co.
The Baird Clock Company wsa founded in 1887 by Edward P. Baird in Plattsburgh, New York.The company made clocks mostly of of wood and tin, but also of papier mache. The best known Baird advertising clocks look similar to a figure-eight. They usually have a white face surrounded by a circular wood frame and a smaller wooden circle underneath. The movements were usually supplied by Seth Thomas. The advertising message is written on case surrounding the dial and on the circle beneath. Baird clocks began to use ads on the dial itself towards the in the late 1890's.
Baird is generally credited with being the first to manufacture clocks with advertising for Coca-Cola in the 1890's. They were successfully used by store owners to promote sales of Coca-Cola and were quite popular with the public.
The earliest had slogans like ‘The Ideal Brain Tonic,’ later shortened to the more familiar ‘Drink Coca Cola.’
In addition to Baird, E.N. Welsh Co., Ingraham, and the William L. Gilbert Clock Co. created advertising clocks for Coca-Cola.
Andrew VanWoert Strait, who owned a store that sold watches, clocks, and jewelry, began making advertising clocks in Sydney, New York in the 1880s. From there, the Sidney Advertising Clock Co. was born.
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