These days, you can find just about anyone almost anywhere, thanks to the Internet.
But that’s not the case with Irene Winston Spier.
And just who, you ask, is Irene Winston Spier? Well, I’m asking that too.
I had never heard of that name until I came across this cute vintage clock at a rummage sale on Saturday. I turned it over and saw it was made by Lux Clocks of Waterbury, Conn. And then, I saw this: Designed by Irene Winston Spier.
What I did learn from a few online searches was that this clock was called the Honey Bunny Pendulette Clock and it was made in 1950. It originally sold for less than $3. The Honey Bunny Clock came in two colors: white and pink. The white clock is rarer and probably more valuable. If you find the pink one, don’t clean it because you’ll remove the pink from the clock face. Apparently, the previous owner of my clock before me didn't know that because the pink paint is faded on the sides.
Irene designed a couple of other notable clocks, including one called the Shmoo Pendulette Clock in 1949 and one called the Petunia Pendulette Clock in 1951. The Shmoo was based on a character that Al Capp created for his “Li’l Abner” comic strip in 1948. The Petunia resembled a red flower complete with a green stem. The pendulum bob had a bumblebee on it.
Another Internet search shows a patent for a “squeeze container for liquid having a reservoir neck” that Irene designed in 1953. Could that have been the forerunner of the ubiquitous flip cap that we now see on every bottle of liquid soap and lotion?
Without much else to go on, I’d like to think that Irene was among the Peggy Olsons of product design: Smart, sassy and swimming upstream as a pioneer in a field probably dominated by men. Sadly, it seems unlikely that I’ll never know for sure.
I couldn’t even find Irene's obituary, but I think she’s probably passed. If you happen to know something about Irene Winston Spier, add it in the comments.