History of the vintage Durban bakelite Smiths clock!

My blog, ‘Trish Hunter Finds’, began in 2008 and was named simply because I was showing what I, Trish Hunter, found.

It was the easiest blog name to think of and it really stuck!

Over my five years of blogging, I have continued to find beautiful vintage things for myself, my home and then of course for my shop.   But as time went on, things really did change, and I found myself posting less and less about the things I bought for myself which was the real essence of Trish Hunter Finds, and I have missed that!

So this post is the beginning of bringing back a touch of what made me begin blogging all those years ago.  I’m going to bring you regular Trish Hunter Finds blogs about just that… The vintage things I find and the vintage things I have in my own house.

Any ‘THF’ titled blog post is going to be me showing you the things I have found for myself, or things for my own collection and sadly aren’t for sale.  But I do hope you learn, love and discover a little bit more about vintage and history in these posts. :)
So here’s my first of many to come!

THF BLOG no. 1!

First up is something yet to go on my wall, but is on the list of things to do next.  I’ll explain why soon.

It’s a 1940s/50s wall clock made by Smiths.

Vintage green bakelite smiths durban clock
This is the ‘Durban’ model, which was produced from 1937 right up until 1966!
That’s a really long time for anything to be produced isn’t it? 29 years!

This particular colour is apparently documented to have been made in 1955, however I have previously had another that came in it’s original box in the same colour that was much earlier going by the boxes graphics and instructions, so I’d be inclined to think that the mint colour was actually produced in the 1940’s too!

You really can see the 1930’s design in the shape can’t you!  The iconic stepped deco detail to the corners.  It’s gorgeous.

Vintage green bakelite smiths durban clock
This model was one of the first clocks made by Smiths after they added the trade name ‘sectric’ to their clocks in 1937.

And here’s a fun fact, did you know that when these were sold, they were sold unwired?  Just the actual clock and instructions on ‘how to’ wire it up yourself.  How funny… and unsafe?

Vintage green bakelite smiths durban clock

So why is this not on my wall right now?

Like I mentioned above, it’s an electric wall clock, which means I literally have to plug it into a power-point.  But see, I get nervous with old electricals.
Even though I always get everything electrically tested (as should you) and even though I do use lots of different vintage electrical products on a daily basis, (Lamps, fans, everything), I only use those that I turn off when I’m done using, or before I leave the house.

Leaving old wiring running 24/7 while I’m out or asleep leaves me uncomfortable, so it’s sitting there not being used just yet because I either want to get it rewired, or fitted with a battery mechanism.

As I said, these were DIY wiring jobs when they were sold.  Anyone in the world could have done any kind of shotty job on this and it could end badly, so even if you do plan on using it electrically as is, get it tested by a professional.  Just because something works doesn’t mean it’s safe.

Vintage green bakelite smiths durban clock
Some people may get upset that I’m modifying or modernising something like this. However when it comes to safety, I think it’s the right thing to do.   Some vintage things I’m quite against modifying, like turning gorgeous and rare vintage frocks into modern mini’s etc.   However if it’s something like this, I think it’s okay, and actually for the best. Safety always wins.

Vintage green bakelite smiths durban clock

Well I hope you enjoyed my first THF post!

I am busting to share so many finds with you, so you’ll have to keep an eye on my Facebook & Instagram, as that’s where you can keep up to date with new Trish Hunter Finds posts!!

And, to see more of my finds from the past, there is a category on the left titled ‘My Vintage Finds’ so you can go through those :)

 

Trish Hunter
Trish Hunter, (previously Trish Hunter Finds.) Mid century design collector, passionate about history, dog lover, excessive !!! user and smiler.
Trish Hunter
Trish Hunter

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Comments (8)

  1. That clock is gorgeous, what an amazing piece! It will look wonderful when you finally get it on your wall.
    I totally agree with your decision to have it modified. It may be a bit of a shame to not have it in perfect original condition, but I think its even more of a shame to not be able to use it! Such a beautiful item needs to have pride of place! :)

    Amber Jade

    • Yey thanks so much Amber Jade! Yee I can’t wait to get it on my wall! It’s all a matter of time :) Such a good point though, much better to have it modernised and used than put away somewhere in storage or something because you can’t! x

  2. It’s absolutely adorable! I think your plan to change the mechanism to something a little safer is a very good idea. There are many vintage things worth keeping but vintage wiring probably isn’t one of them.

    • So true!! Some wiring can be fine, you can often tell by looking at the wiring if it’s been looked after. And if it’s been tested you’re fine, but with 24/7 things I think it’s better to be modern! xx

  3. Good work Trish! Great post and I agree that you should rewire.

    I’ve got the same clock, same colour, everything – I got it at Camberwell markets years ago for $20 and it was working and I plugged it in and nothing bad happened other than a few years later it stopped working. I should get it rewired too – it’s gorgeous and goes perfectly with our Deco kitchen which is the same mint colour.

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