J.C. Plimpton, Inventor's Father


John Calvin Plimpton was the [undoubtedly proud] father of Charles Bird Plimpton, inventor of BAYKO, the world's first and finest plastic construction toy.
J.C. was an American citizen who moved to the U.K., probably in the 1880's.  Also an American citizen, his wife's maiden name was Caroline Augusta Bird, though there is some evidence to suggest that she subsequently referred to herself as Caroline Bird Plimpton.
Their movements within the U.K. are unclear, as can be seen from the birth information on their three children : -
  John Calvin Plimpton Junior Born 1886 - Egremont, Wallasey, Cheshire
  Ethel Bird Plimpton Born 1889 - Egremont, Wallasey, Cheshire
  Charles Bird Plimpton Born 1893 - Catford, London
The 1901 census shows the family living in Del Boy Trotter territory, Peckham, London, tying in with C.B.'s birth. The family obviously left Merseyside for several years before returning, as shown in the 1911 census.  Sadly I can find no reference to the family in the 1891 census.


J.C. Plimpton was evidently a very successful business man, though direct pieces of evidence for the business are not easy to unearth.  It would seem that his earlier efforts included importing items from the U.S.A., perhaps utilising contacts 'back home', but whatever the origins, diversity seems to have been the watchword.
Thanks to Peter Gosnell, I can now confirm that the various Liverpool premises occupied over the years by J.C. Plimpton Ltd. are as follows : -
Jerome Buildings, Liverpool, the first known home of J.C. Plimpton's business
Jerome Buildings, 63/65 Victoria Street 1894 - 1899
These buildings [right] have survived into the twenty first century.  It's difficult to be certain, but these premises look more like an office environment, possibly with a small warehousing space. Ideal as starter premises, or, perhaps, a regional office, but not enough as the main site for a successful business, so it's not difficult to see why they moved.
Plimpton Buildings, 114/116 Old Hall Street 1901 - 1924
These premises [below, right] are much more substantial, and adding the name Plimpton Buildings was presumably pushing the image of success and permanence of the business.
They were very close to, if not actually overlapping, the site of the J.M. Centre, headquarters of the Littlewoods organisation, where I worked, for three years, in the mid 1970s.
Sadly the building is now long gone, a victim of a major 1960s redevelopment programme in the area, repairing wartime damage and bringing the area into the twentieth century.
Clock imported by J. C. Plimpton Limited
The image [right] is actually just a humble postcard, on which the photograph [and probably the card itself] dates from around 1917 or 1918. That is certainly how it was listed on eBay anyway! The only person in the image is a soldier, he's in the foreground. He is shown, in what, certainly seems, to me, to be the standard British Army uniform from that period. It is the uniform which was worn  during the first world war - if not, it's something very much like it. Presumably this would have been a self-advertising J.C. Plimpton product - who else would have shown their premises?
J.C. Plimpton's premises at 116, Old Hall Street, Liverpool
There is a sign on the building which bears the legend “Department - Furniture, Sterling, Fancy Goods. Hardware Woodware Handles” and a further sign which reads “Rexhall United”. Rexhall is an American company which now manufactures motor homes.
The photo of the clock [left] was sent to me by Daniel Haggett, whose grandfather owned it, and, indeed, it may even have been him that bought it. Either way, it clearly passed through the J.C. Plimpton business at this time.  It was manufactured by the Simplex Time Recorder Company of Gardener, Massachusetts, and your friendly neighbourhood importer's name and address are there as well.
The image [right] shows, I admit not too clearly, the actual importer's label, which bears the legend “J.C. Plimpton Ltd, Liverpool”. It sits dead centre, immediately below the clock housing.
Logo of J.C. Plimptob Limited as seen on the clock
Daniel found this site when he Googled details of his grandfather's clock - it's nice to close the loop, as it were, by adding the two clock images to the site. Thanks Daniel
By one of those little quirks that make life interesting, C.B. Plimpton, who we know worked briefly in America for a clock manufacturer, may have worked in the same factory in which this clock was produced. This experience led him to develop “Improvements to Clocks and Clock Movements” for which he was granted a patent…
It appears that 'next door' to the watches, J.C. Plimpton also conducted a silver business : -
J.C. Plimpton shoe button hook (?) from around the turn of the 19th century.
Full hallmark of the J.C. Plimpton Shoe Button Hook
The image [above] shows what looks like a Shoe Button Hook - but it wouldn't be the first time I'd been wrong. It comes from the J.C. Plimpton silverware range, and probably dates from around the turn of the 19th century.
The image [left] shows the full hallmark and corporate branding embossed on the Shoe Button Hook handle.
If you click anywhere on this image [left] you'll launch a larger version of the image, on which you should find the hallmark much easier to see and to read…
J.C. Plimpton corporate branding component of the hallmark.
…at least I hope so!
The third image [right] shows just the J.C. Plimpton corporate branding component of the overall hallmarking. This approach was usually associated with quality items.
The photos were sent to me by Dave Shore who's interest lies in the complete family businesses of J.C. and C.B. Plimpton.
Plimpton Buildings, Gibraltar Row 1926 - 1932
Sadly, from a researcher's point of view, I can't find any trace of these buildings, the wrecking ball, again, having done its grizzly work.  I can't find a historical photograph either, I'm afraid.
Page from the J.C. Plimpton catalogue
It would appear from the above, that J.C.'s business interests were fairly eclectic, and the size of the building suggests, to me, that it was reasonably prosperous by this time.
In various business directories, from 1894 to 1901, J.C. Plimpton & Co. Ltd. are described as American merchants and factors.
The business changed over the years, the one consistent thread being its diversity : -
For many years they were significant importers of Lawnmowers.
From 1926 - 1930 they were sole representatives of the New Haven Clock Co.
From 1931 - 1933 they were clock manufacturers in their own right.
The image [left], is taken from Grace's Guide
It is extracted from J.C. Plimpton & Co. Limited's catalogue and dates from July, 1907. Although the page is certainly biased towards garden-related items, there are enough other items to give us a flavour of the somewhat eclectic nature of the business.
As an aside, the print quality of the catalogue appears to be excellent.
December 1912 extract from the JC Plimpton catalogue
These two images, both, again, culled from Grace's Guide, here date from December, 1912 [left] and September, 1913 [right] and are taken from the JC Plimpton catalogues of those dates.
September, 1913 extract from the JC Plimpton catalogue
Personally, I think the clock is rather stylish and surprisingly modern. However, I think today's safety professionals would definitely approve of the clock's rounded edges, but not the way it would sit proud of the dashboard or handlebars.
The “96 years experience” claim in the right hand image is interesting, and suggests that JC Plimpton got into clock and watch making via the acquisition route.
There is another facet to the clock and watch making side of the business, as a certain Charles Bird Plimpton, of J.C. Plimpton & Co. Ltd., was granted patent #190,951 on March 9th, 1923 for : -
“Improvements in Clocks and Clock Movements”

80th Birthday Article

There is a little more information, about J.C. Plimpton himself, available from an article in the 'Liverpool Post and Echo', celebrating his eightieth birthday…
Well, that's it I'm afraid, I'll add more information as I come across it. If you know anything else about J.C. Plimpton or his business interests, then I'd love to hear from you…
Below here are links to related info : -
Click on any of the links below for related information.

The 'Flaming BAYKOMAN' site logo

Latest update - June 5, 2020
The BAYKO name and Logo are the Registered Trade Mark of Transport of Delight.