Gilbert clocks, manufactured from 1828 to the 1960s, are easy to identify because the clocks are clearly marked with a label on the back. While the company's name has changed over the years, the name "Gilbert" is always included.
Though most clock collectors use 1871 as the date The Gilbert Manufacturing Company started producing its inexpensive clocks, founder William L. Gilbert actually got into the clock-making business in Connecticut, as early as 1828. The company went through a variety of forms over the years, and finally, in 1871, became the company most collectors recognize. Clock labels name the place of manufacture as either Bristol or Winsted, Connecticut.
When identifying Gilbert clocks, look on the back of the clocks. Most are clearly marked and labeled with the following names: Marsh, Gilbert and Company (the earliest clocks); Birge, Gilbert, & Company; Jerome, Grant, Gilbert, & Company; Clarke, Gilbert, & Company; Gilbert & Clarke; W. L. Gilbert & Company;The Gilbert Manufacturing Company; and finally William L. Gilbert Clock Company. Throughout all its manifestations, the one constant was the name "Gilbert." Examples of what some of the various labels looked like can be found at Savage and Polite's online Antique Clocks Price Guide. (See Resource )
Over the years, Gilbert created various styles. The company created such diverse clocks as the banjo clock and ornate mantel clocks, as well as small alarm clocks. During World War II, Gilbert was one of the few American clock-makers that continued to manufacture clocks. Because of the metal shortage, the company created clocks with cases created from molded papier-maché.
- clock image by Svetlin Rusev from Fotolia.com