Posted 3 years ago
The Snider Clock Corporation, was set up in 1950 by Harry Snider, who operated a wholesale jewelery business on Yonge Street at the time. The company name was changed in 1957 to the Snider Clock Mfg Co. Limited. Over a period of more than twenty-five years up to 1976 there were hundreds of models of Snider mantel, alarm, TV lamp, 'starburst', and wall clocks designed and manufactured in Toronto.
Both spring-driven and electric movements were used extensively. The windup movements with built-in keys for their 1950s alarm clocks were obtained from the Ingraham Canadian Clock Company in Toronto and most of the electric motors were imported unassembled from the Lanshire company in Chicago. The earliest electric motors were obtained from Smith Clocks in England (the word SECTRIC appears on those early dials). Later, battery-operated electromechanical (balance wheel) movements were introduced. Quartz clock technology came along after the second Snider company went of business. HOWEVER, you may find an old Snider clock with the failed electric motor replaced by a new quartz movement.
The early 1950s china-cased models, such as the black panther, the colourful birdhouse wall clock, and the lime green or rosy pink horses, often had labels that read "WEDGEPORT" and "HAND PAINTED, A BRITISH EMPIRE PRODUCT". Those china cases were actually designed, molded and painted for Harry in Toronto! Some of the windup clock movements included an alarm function.
Other popular1950s electric models had various sailboat designs (some with a switch to turn on a light in the cabin), hollow molded-metal horses combined with a clock in a horseshoe on various bases, and Harry's 'golden goddess' Art-Deco-style nude holding up a clock.
And the 1950s decade was the time when TV lamps were popular for use with the early, dim black-and-white television screens. Harry's designs included an electric clock (no surprise!). He produced both china-cased and metal-cased models. His designs for the model 503, 504, and 505 metal models were registered in 1957. Colours available, and found today, were white, black, brown, pink, and turquoise. The latter two colours were common in the 1950s for many consumer products.
In the 1960s, dozens of Snider sunburst/starburst models were very popular. Many were based on some basic brass-plated metal frames, with different models created by varying the shapes of the walnut wood rays.
According to Harry's younger son Michael, in peak years, about 50,000 clocks were made by up to twenty employees in the Toronto factories. All components except the imported movements were produced in Canada.
Harry continued to run the business until his passing in 1972. His eldest son, Gary, worked for both companies from 1956 to 1962. Michael was involved with the second company from 1962 to 1976. Starting during his father's illness, Michael operated the Snider Clock Manufacturing Company as the president, and introduced many new designs in the early 1970s to meet a changing market. Production stopped in 1976.
Our Museum gratefully thanks Michael Snider for providing detailed company history information, some family photographs, photocopies of several later catalogues, and priceless memories.
The museum received a federal Community Memories grant from Canadian Heritage in 2007 to research and tell the Snider story. The project results have been online since early July of 2008 at the Virtual Museum of Canada web site. Go to www.virtualmuseum.ca, then select the Community Memories section. Type in the exhibit box "The House of Snider" in quotes. The House of Snider in Toronto - A Canadian Clocks Success Story 1950-1976 is the full title. There are five storylines and 239 images, including pictures of more than 150 clocks in the museum's Snider collection, scans of sections of some later Snider catalogues, and sketches from memory by Michael Snider of the two factory floor planms.