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The TV Lamp Collectors Blog » Blog Archive » Manufacturer Profile: Tele-Vision Clock Corporation

Manufacturer Profile: Tele-Vision Clock Corporation


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Tele-Vision CalliopeNot many TV lamp collectors will be familiar with this company, but vintage clock enthusiasts are liable to know them for their association with the earliest digital clocks. Tele-Vision Clock Corp. of America and The Pennwood Numechron Co. were somehow tied, as both names appear on some items, but the nature of this association is unclear. So how do they figure into the TV lamp world? I’ll begin with a quote from a terrific website, Reverse Time:

“Many of the early TV’s did not have especially bright pictures, so viewing was done in a darkened room. To alleviate eyestrain, lamps were used to provide some dim, shadowy lighting around the TV. Most of these were cheap porcelain figural lamps and, for some unexplained reason, the most popular style consisted of a black panther prowling through a jungle scene. Grotesque planter/lamps, with their legacy of white rings and ruined veneer, were also popular.
This clock was a more practical approach to the problem. Pennwood advertised it as a “Glolite Colorama Television Lamp-Clock with Focalizer Stare-Break”. Whew!”

So, it appears that one of the earliest makers to address the whole eye-strain issue did so with a clock/TV-lamp combo! Some of the clocks featured a clear lucite back, allowing for light to illuminate the wall behind, but the calliope shown here is different. The nature of this calliope (steam organ) design is uncertain as it is missing the internals, but may have housed clock-works and/or a light fixture. (It is currently listed on eBay, auction #130150790431)

Tele-Vision labelWhat I find particularly interesting about this calliope is the date found within: June 1949. I’ve yet to find an actual TV lamp with a verifiable date prior to 1950, yet this product appears to have targeted the back-lighting issue at least as early as ‘49. It is also unusual in that it is a ceramic item, whereas other known products from Pennwood/Tele-Vision were made of bakelite or similar early plastics. Some of the clocks were also topped off with cast metal sculptures by Abbotwares, often a horse and rider. So, dear reader, we don’t know much about this maker, at least not yet. We do know that they were based out of Pittsburgh, primarily a manufacturer of clocks, and that they sometimes included supplemental lighting. It’s also clear that they were specifically intending the clock/lamps to be perched on a television to provide back-lighting… just like the TV lamps we know and love!

7 Responses to “Manufacturer Profile: Tele-Vision Clock Corporation”

  1. Carol Cate Says:

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    Where can I get replacement parts for a black panther t.v.lamp???

  2. Tony Gallo Says:

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    In response to the comment ‘The nature of this calliope (steam organ) design is uncertain as it is missing the internals, but may have housed clock-works and/or a light fixture’ the answer is a clock. We just found the exact clock in the basement of my father-in-law’s house. Our’s is complete with the digital clock. WE plugged it in and it still keeps accurate time.

    Our’s also has the same label dated 1949.

    FYI, Tony

  3. Susan Says:

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    How much is the monkey clock worth? I also have the identical clock.

  4. Mark Says:

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    Hmm… monkey clocks have to be a rare breed, so I’d think that would make it worth a significant amount! Joking aside, I have no idea. They’re certainly rare, and as a result there’s not much of an auction “track record” to help determine value. I wouldn’t be too quick to let it go unless you can determine its real worth… they’re neat!

  5. Anthony Says:

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    I just picked-up from a local yard sale a metal (brass colored) horse that is standing on a wood base and is fully adorn with saddlle, stirrups, bit. etc. It is 12 inches long from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail and 10 inches tall from the top of the base to the tip of the ears. It weighs almost 4 pounds. There is a faint ink stamp that reads: Tele-Vision Clock Corp. of Frankstown Ave. Pittsburgh PA U.S.A. (cannot read exact number address) and has 110 Volts - 60 CY ?

    Do you known what year this was made and is this a common item from that time period? I have not been able to find another one like this online. It appears a paper sticker was on the bootm at one time. And why would it have 110 Volts when this has nothing to to do with electricity since it is just a Metal Horse on a wood base? Thanks for any information you can provide.

  6. Tracy Blassingame Says:

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    I have the 1949 Calliope Clock that match the above picture. Does any body know how much this clock may be worth, if anything? My stamp also says June 1949. I also plugged mine in and it still works. Thanks

  7. Jim Chappell Says:

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    Just located a Tele-Vision Digital clock/tv lamp. Appears to be swirled catlin[rare]
    It has the clear plastic back that focuses the light behind the back to the wall. works perfectly. I would value it at least $45-50.00 just because of it’s condition,and beauty. I do 5-6 Arts/Crafts/Antique shows around Kentucky each year,and sell [refurbushed] electric clocks from the 20’s to the 50’s. I sell about 200 a year. This one might be a keeper,as least until a regular customer takes a real interest in it. The Catlin case is beautiful. The Numechrons have always sold quickly. I just polished out a brass Numerchron with a decorative trim along the bottom. It too is a prize.
    jim

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