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CONTRIVANCES for the measurement of time are of such antiquity that the first such implement is wrapped in the mysteries of a forgotten past. Before any mechanical form had been invented by which the rate of motion of a staff or pointer was made to indicate the lapse of time, the shadow of the sun in his apparent daily progress was used to mark the passing hours. A gnomon or pin erected so as to throw its traveling shadow across a graduated arc constitutes a dial. This was the earliest form.
The subject of sun-dials has been most exhaustively treated by Mrs. Gatty in her "Book of Sun-Dials", and later in our own country by Mrs. Earle. In England and Scotland many dials may still be found standing in old-fashioned gardens where they have marked the flight of time for hundreds of years. Many more dials, vertical ones, are to be found on the walls of public buildings, sometimes on churches, and on country houses as well. Not only stationary dials, but portable ones also, of silver and gold, were made and were long in use. Some of these are to be seen in various museums over the country, but most of them seem to have disappeared. George Washington owned a portable dial, and had a stationary one placed near his front door at Mt. Vernon.
In some of the famous old gardens of the South that still survive, echoes of their former glory, the sun-dial yet holds its accustomed place. In the very heart of New York city there is to-day a sun-dial; not one person in a hundred that passes knows that it is there, nor would scarcely one person in fifty know what it was. It stands on the lawn of Grace Church rectory, on Broadway, near Tenth Street. This spot of green in a wilderness of brick and stone refreshes the eye of many a hurrying pedestrian, and the dial marks the flight of the hours as sharply as if it stood in a country wilderness, amid birds and flowers.
The sun-dial was an important part of every great garden in early times. One was set up at Whitehall, England, in the sixteenth century.
"In a garden joining to this palace there is a Jet d'eau, with a sun-dial, which, while strangers looking at, a quantity of water forced by a wheel, which the gardiner turns at a distance, through a number of little pipes, plentifully sprinkles those that are standing around."
William Lawson, writing in 1618 a book on "A New Orchard and Garden", gives the directions about laying it out.
"And in some corner (or more) a true Dyall or clock, and some Anticke works, and especially silver sounding Musique, mixt instruments and voyces, gracing all the rest; How will you be rapt with delight?"
In 1821 William Cobbett Wrote his "Rural Rides". In one of them he discourses of a visit to Moor Park, once the seat of Sir William Temple, whose heart, enclosed in a silver box, was said to have been buried in 1698 beneath his sun-dial. But Cobbett casts a doubt upon this time-honored legend by declaring that it was beneath a garden scat that the silver box was buried. Charles Lamb, in his essay "The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple", discourses lovingly of the sun-dial. "It spoke of moderate labours, of pleasures not protracted after sunset, of temperance, and good hours." The dials made out of herbs and flowers come in for a special share of his commendation. How much more the dial induces meditation than the clock, but how very much lost we should be, these bustling times, if we had to depend upon one of these delightful but irresponsible "antiques" which say to you quite distinctly, "I mark only sunny hours."
Figure 94. Tall-Case Clocks, English
Daniel Quare, maker. J. Harrison, maker.
In an inventory of the property of William Bennett, East Greenwich, Rhode Island, who died in 1753, among other articles were mentioned "warming-pan, pewter, sun-dial, book, debts.
After the dial came the clepsydra, a sort of clock, which measured time by the graduated flow of some liquid, like water, through a small aperture. While the hour-glass was not known in England till 886, it had been used in Rome long before; but inventions traveled slowly in those days. The hour-glass remained long in use, even after the invention of clocks, and while we know it chiefly as marking the period of agony of some unwilling victim at the piano, it was used even later than the noon mark on the window-ledge, which may be seen to-day on some of the old houses still standing.
A writer in the "Gentlemen's Magazine" for 1746 says that he was present on an occasion when a gravedigger was at work in Clerkenwell Fields.
"He had dug pretty deep, and was come to a coffin which had lain so long that it was quite rotten, and the plate so eaten with rust that he could not read anything of the inscription. in clearing away the old wood the grave-digger found an hour-glass close to the left side of the skull, with sand still in it. Being a lover of antiquity, I bought it of him, and have since learned from some antiquarians that it was an ancient custom to put an hour-glass in the coffin to show that the sands of life were run."
The origin of clockwork is involved in great obscurity, though there are statements by many writers that clocks were in use as early as the ninth century.
By 1288 a clock was placed in the Old Palace Yard, London, and remained there till the reign of Queen Elizabeth. In 1292 a clock was placed on Canterbury Cathedral, and in 1368 a striking clock was erected at Westminster. By 1500, clocks were used in private houses, and watches were introduced. In 1368 three Dutch clockmakers were invited to come to England to teach the business to native workers, though "Dutch clocks" and their makers were held in contempt some years later.
There was a clock put into the tower of Hampton Court Palace in 1540 by a maker whose initials were "N. O.", all that posterity knows of him. It was the oldest clock in England that kept fairly good time In 1575 George Gaver, "serjeant painter" as his title runs, had a sum of money allowed him for "painting the great dial at Hampton Court Palace, containing hours of day and night, and the course of sun and moon." In 1649 a striking part was added. By 1711 it was found that the clock had not been running as correctly as it should, owing to the fact that some careless or ignorant workman had removed important parts of the works. After this was left neglected for many years, and finally lost its hands. It was in this condition in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, when G. P. R. James wrote a poem entitled "Old Clock Without Hands at Hampton Court."
In 1835 the old works were removed, and a set of works put in which had been made in 1690 by Villiamy, for a clock in the Queen's Palace, St. James, Park. As this clock was not powerful enough to drive the astronomical works, these were put away. In 1880 this old clock was also removed, sold for old brass, and a brand-new clock substituted. It seems a pity that one of the earliest clocks known should have been destroyed. It was not till 1639 that Galileo published his discovery of the isochronous property of the pendulum, which was eight years after the incorporation of the London Clockmakers Company. Not only did this company train workers for clockmaking, but they also inspected clocks brought into England, and rejected those which they deemed unworthy.
Richard Harris is said to have been the man who first connected the pendulum with clockwork movement, about 1641, and Harris's method was improved by Huyghens, so that by 1658 very trustworthy timekeepers were in use. Mr. Lockwood in his book on "Colonial Furniture," says that the first clock mentioned in the Massachusetts Colony was found in Boston in 1638, but in Lechford's note-book it is said that Joseph Stratton had of his brother in 1628 a clock and a watch. In 1640 Henry Parks, of Hartford, left a clock by will to the church. The first clock in New Haven belonged to John Davenport, who died in 1670.
E. Needham, of Lynn, Mass., died in 1677. She left an estate valued at £1,117. The barn, land, outhouses and dwelling house were valued at £400. This included a "range of ston wall fensing." Her silver watch, spoons, and other plate were worth £5. She had a striking clock, another Watch, and a "larum that does not strike." These early clocks were probably like the ones shown in Figure 95. They were called "lantern," "chamber", or "birdcage" clocks. The lantern clock shown is of the pattern known as the "dolphin fret," on account of the ornamentation above the dial, which is made by two dolphins with crossed tails. This clock was made by Thomas Tompion, of London, a famous maker, who lived in the last half of the seventeenth century and died in 1713. He was clockmaker to Charles II., and was held in high esteem, as may be gathered from the fact that he was buried in Westminster Abbey, where his tomb may still be seen.
Tompion was called the "Father of English Clock-making", and has left a more enduring fame than any of his contemporaries. He had been a blacksmith, and before his time watches as well as clocks had been of rude construction, and the watch of Charles I., which is still preserved, has a catgut string instead of a chain. Indeed watches of that construction were in use for a long time after the chain was invented. Very curiously, through some of the strange chances Which govern inanimate as well as animate things, this very watch has found at least a temporary home in this country.
When Oliver Cromwell obtained his great victory over Charles II., and drove the enemy from hedge to hedge till they finally took refuge in the city of Worcester, there were seven thousand prisoners and great spoils, among the latter the royal carriage in which the king had been carried. In the carriage was this watch, which was used by Charles II. as it had been by his father Charles I. It had been made for the latter in 1640, and after more than two centuries of vicissitudes still ticks bravely on. It is of the earliest pattern of watches, made entirely by hand and of great size, as it measures four and a half inches in diameter, and is an inch and a half thick. The case is very handsome, of pierced silver in a pattern of flowers and leaves, and has three winding-holes on the back, — one for winding the works, one for the alarm, and one for the striking attachment, which consists of a small silver bell within the perforated case. It has but one hand to mark the time and goes thirty-six hours. There is an outer case into which the watch may be slipped, made of copper with a leather cover studded with silver.
Figure 95. Three Centuries of Clocks, — Lantern, Portable,
and Willard or Banjo Clocks.
The watch was kept by Cromwell himself for many years, but after the Restoration it fell into the hands of Joseph Kipling, of Overstone House, North Hants, England, a relative of Rudyard Kipling. Joseph Kipling was also an ancestor of Mr. Wilfred Powell, British consul at the port of Philadelphia, and present owner of the watch.
Robert Hooker invented the double balance in 1658, and Tompion completed it in 1675, and made a watch which he presented to Charles II. Two others were made and sent to the Dauphin of France, where Huyghens had obtained a patent for spiral-spring watches. This idea was not original with him, but was obtained from a man named Oldenburg. It is allowed, however, that it is Huyghens who first made those watches which went without strings or chains. Barlow, in the reign of James II. is said to have discovered the method of making striking watches, but, Quare's being judged superior by the Privy Council, Barlow did not get a patent.
Tompion's watches were in great demand for a long time, owing to their being large and well made, the wheels being of well-hammered brass. Three most eminent watch-makers of this time were Tompion, who died in 1713; Daniel Quare, who succeeded him and died in 1725; and George Graham, who followed Quare and died in 1775. They all belonged to the Society of Friends.
Watches cannot claim the antiquity of clocks, but they can be traced as far back as the fourteenth century. In shape they were like an egg, and Nuremburg claims their earliest manufacture. Although it is said that they were introduced into England in 1577, yet it is certain that Henry VIII. had a watch, and in 1572 the Earl of Leicester presented to Queen Elizabeth —
— "one amlet or shakell of golde, all over fairly garnished with small diamandes, and fower and one smaller pieces, fully garnished with like diamandes and hanging thereat a round clocke fullie garnished with diamandes and an appendant hanging thereat."
They were so unusual that they were worn ostentatiously round the neck hanging to a chain.
In an old play called "A Mad World, My Masters!", One of the characters says "Ah, by my troth, sir, besides a jewel and a jewel's fellow, a good fair watch that hung about my neck." When Malvolio was telling over the agreeable ways in which he would occupy himself after his marriage with Olivia, he says
"I frown the while, and perchance wind up my watch or play with some rich jewel." Watches called "strikers" were known in Ben Jonson's time, for he says in his "Staple of News"
"'T strikes! One, two,
Three, four, five, six. Enough, enough, dear watch.
Thy pulse hath beat enough. Now stop and rest."
Watches were in use so rarely in the early times of James I. that it was deemed a cause of suspicion when in 1605 one was found upon the person of Guy Vaux. By 1638 they were more common, and in a comedy of that year called "The Antipodes" it is complained that —
— every clerk can carry
The time of day in his pocket."
The prices of these first time-keepers must have been high, but there are no records of them left. In 1643 the sum of £4 was paid to redeem a watch taken from a nobleman in battle. In 1661 there was advertised as lost —
— "a round watch of reasonable size, showing the day of the month. age of the moon, and tides, upon the upper plate. Thomas Alcock fecit."
The redoubtable Pepys's curiosity extended to watches, and he writes in his diary, December 22, 1665:
"I to my Lord Brouncker's, and there spent the evening by my desire in seeing his Lordship open 10 pieces and make up again his watch, thereby being taught what I never knew before; and it is a thing very well worth my having seen, and am mightily pleased and satisfied with it."
The English became such famous watchmakers that in 1698 an act was passed to compel makers to place their names upon those they made, in order that discreditable ones might not be passed for English. Among the possessions of the English Crown is a watch which was found about 1770 in Bruce Castle, Scotland. On the dial plate is written "Robertus B. Rex Scotorum", and over the face is a shield of convex horn instead of glass. Robert Bruce began his reign in 1305 and died in 1328, long before watches were supposed to be known in England. The case of this watch is of silver in a raised pattern on a ground of blue enamel.
Striking watches were highly esteemed. When Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough died in 1744 she left a will covering six skins of parchment, and she designated the disposal of "manors, parsonages, rectories, advowsons, messuages, lands, tenements, tithes, and hereditaments", in half a dozen counties. She also specified many of her jewels, and among them is her "striking watch which formerly belonged to Lady Sutherland."
The lantern style of clock before mentioned was not original with Tompion, but had been used in England from the beginning of the seventeenth century. They ran by weights, and the clock had to be affixed to a bracket or shelf in order to give room for the weights to hang. In the clock in Figure 95 the cords and weights have been removed. The faces of these clocks always stood out beyond the frame, and were of beautifully engraved or etched brass, as may be seen in the figure. The single hand showed only the fifths of the hour and the hours. The small dial in the centre was to set the alarm, which struck the bell, but in some of them the hours were struck also.
The portable or table clock came into use early in 1600, and one of them shown in Figure 95 has the oval top to the dial which was not in use till the last part of the seventeenth century. These were the common house clocks of the period and were easily carried about. Some found their way to America, and as they were well made, with brass works, they are still able to give correct time. This style of clock was made for many years, and was manufactured in substantially the same way, late in the eighteenth century, by such famous makers as Isaac Fox and Joseph Rose.
Samuel Pepys, who recorded everything that was going on in London, in July 28th, 1660, has this entry.
"To Westminster, and there met Mr. Henson, who had formerly had the brave clock that went with bullets, (which is now taken away from him by the King, it being his goods)."
In the "Gentlemen's Magazine" for 1785 is the following comment on this statement of Pepys.
"Some clocks are still made with a small ball, or bullet on an inclined plane, which turns every minute."
The King's clocks probably dropped bullets. Gainsborough, the painter, had a brother who was a dissenting minister at Henley-on-Thames and possessed a strong genius for mechanics. He invented a clock of very peculiar construction, which\ after his death was deposited in the British Museum. It told the hour by a little bell, and was kept in motion by a leaden bullet which dropped, from a spiral reservoir at the top of the clock, into a little ivory bucket. This was so contrived as to discharge it at the bottom, and by means of a counterweight was carried up to the top of the clock, where it received another bullet, which was discharged as the former. This seems to have been an attempt at perpetual motion.
Catherine of Braganza was responsible for introducing many luxuries to the English world. Pepys makes this mention of her clock in 1664.
"Mr. Pierce showed me the Queen's [the Portuguese Princess, wife of Charles II] bedchamber. . . . and her holy water at her head as she sleeps, with a clock by her bedside, wherein a lamp burns that tells her the time of the night at any time."
Pepys speaks again in 1667 of going to see —
— "a piece of clocke-worke made by an Englishman-indeed very good, wherein all the several states of man's age to one hundred years old, is shown very pretty and solemne."
Besides the dolphin fret shown on the Tompion clock in Figure 95 there were other patterns, perhaps the earliest being what is called the "heraldic fret", which was a coat-of-arms with scroll-work on either side. This was not used after 1650, so any clocks bearing this pattern belong to the first half of the seventeenth century. It was early seen that to be accurate a clock must have some contrivance to keep it going while it is being wound. In the old-fashioned house clocks which were wound by merely pulling a string, and in which one such winding served both for the going and striking parts, this was done by using what was called the endless chain of Huyghens, which consists of a chain or string with ends joined together, passing over two pulleys which are placed on the arbors of the great wheels, and which have both spikes and deep grooves in them 'to prevent the chain from slipping off.
To the best clocks in England it was usual to apply the gridiron pendulum of Harrison or the mercurial pendulum of Graham. The length of the pendulum of most clocks made before 1800 was 39 inches; that is, after the long pendulum came into use at all. The earliest were called "bob pendulums", which swung so far at the sides that it was often necessary to cut slits in the sides of the case, if it was hung inside, for it was as frequently hung outside. Many clocks which started with bob pendulums were changed to those having long ones, which about 1680 came very much into fashion.
In Mr. Charles Britten's various books on clocks and clock-making he has gathered together all the minute particulars which are obtainable on this subject, and which are of chief interest to collectors of clocks. Most people are content with one clock, particularly if it be of the "grandfather" variety.
The term "clock" was only applied to the bell upon which the hour was rung till well into the fourteenth century, and as late as the time of James I. clocks were known as horologes. Even at the present day the old term has clung to the church-tower time-piece in some of the least-traveled parts of England, and in the quaint and lovely little town of Wells the Cathedral clock is called the "horologe."
There are long-case clocks made by Tompion to be found in this country; for of course all the first clocks were of English make. The earliest long-case clocks were made by William Clement about 1680, and within the same year Tompion was making them too. The peculiarities of these first clocks are quite marked and easily distinguished, for the dials were square, and the top of the case lifted off to permit of winding.
An early and handsome specimen of such a clock is seem in Figure 94. This clock was made in the latter part of the seventeenth century by Daniel Quare, the successor of Thomas Tompion. It is a one-year clock and is at Hampton Court Palace. The dial face is square, and the top lifts off. The case is very handsomely carved and has some very handsome figures on the top. The second clock shown in Figure 94 is in a black and gold lacquered case, and was made by J. Harrison in 1715. It is at the Guildhall Museum, London. This shows the carved top of the dial face which became universally adopted. The most important part of one of these clocks is the pendulum, for the long case was brought into use solely for the pendulum, as mechanism had not been invented to permit it to swing in a confined space. The first long-case clocks were comparatively small in size, and during the reign of William III., when everything Dutch was in fashion, the cases were ornamented with marquetry in beautiful patterns and variously coloured woods. Sometimes this was made even richer by inlay of mother-of-pearl, and there were cases also of splendid lacquer-work, gold on black grounds, like that in Figure 94, some of which found their way to America and are either museum specimens or treasured in private collections. There are many clocks with English works housed in Dutch cases, but this is understandable from the fact that so many Dutch cabinet-makers were settled in London.
Besides the square face to the dial of these early clocks there were peculiarities of the case as well. On either side of the upper part of the case there were carved spiral pillars, like those we find in old chairs of the same period. These were occasionally finished off by carved or gilt pilasters, and on some choice specimens, notably of Tompion's clocks, there are pillars at the back also. This style of pillar was used also in Queen Anne's time. The clocks might stand flat on the floor or be raised an inch or two on a short foot. The long doors had mouldings, corresponding to the period of their manufacture, and many had a piece of glass or a bull's-eye let into the wood, so that the motion of the pendulum could be seen.
Some of the most distinguishing marks on these clocks are the hour circles. Before the minute hand came into use the double circles seen in the mantle clocks were in use. Between them the hour is divided into quarters, the half hour being shown by a longer stroke, or an ornament like a fleur-de-lys. When the minute hand came into use, besides the double circle containing the numerals denoting the hours, and the smaller figures showing the minutes, there were on the outer edge marks or divisions to denote the quarter hours, the device being a cross or a dagger. The dial faces were beautifully embellished with engraving, those of the William III. and Queen Anne periods being very rich. Not only were the faces brass, but there were to be found silvered faces also, ornamented with ormolu mounts of figures and scrolls in brass. All the space on the dial was utilized; on the extreme edge a border of leaves, or herring-bone pattern was placed, and the whole interior of the hour-ring was engraved or etched with flowers, scrolls, or set patterns, and even the winding-holes had their set of circles around each.
Of the seventeenth-century clocks the earliest had their makers, names put into Latin and engraved straight across the bottom of the dial, and quite concealed when the wooden hood of the case was in place. Later it was engraved on the lower half of the circle between the figures seven and five. These two styles were only in use very early, for about 1750 name-plates were first used, and then makers used their own taste in the matter, sometimes omitting the name entirely and substituting some motto like "Tempus Fugit" "Tempus edax rerum", and even such lengthy mottoes as the following;
Slow comes the hour; its passing speed how great;
Waiting to seize it, — vigilantly wait!"
Edward East was another well-known early English maker, and some clocks in splendid cases came from his hand by 1690 and earlier.
Joseph Knibb and James Clowes were other popular makers about 1700. James Lownes made handsome clocks by 1705 and usually inserted glass in their doors. The corners of the dials bear devices which also point to the age 0f the clock. On the dials which came from the best makers till just before the close of the seventeenth century, the ornaments were cherubs' heads. Then the patterns of the spandrels, as these ornaments were called, altered, and a head set in more or less elaborate scroll-work, generally of brass, handsomely chased and often gilded, was used. After this, in the early eighteenth century, came two Cupids holding up a crown with a surrounding of scroll-work. The clock on the left in Figure 96 has this fret, two cherubs holding a crown, at the four corners of the brass face. They do not show very plainly in the illustration, which also does not do justice to the splendid marquetry with which the mahogany case is inlaid. Across the dial face is Monks, Prescot and the clock is in perfect order. The second clock is quite as interesting. It has a fine mahogany inlaid case, the face is painted on wood, the works are wooden also, and it is wound by pulling up the weights by hand. The ornaments which originally decorated the top are missing, but otherwise it is perfect and is in admirable condition. Its period is about 1800. This clock belongs to Dr. George W. Gaoler, of Rochester, N. Y., and the one previously described to Mr. William M. Hoyt, also of Rochester.
American Clock. English Clock.
Figure 96. Tall-Case Clocks, English and American
A crown with crossed sceptres and foliage were also used in the spandrels. Later in the century the passion for rococo ornament seized the clock-makers too, and during the reign of George III. these ornaments degenerated very greatly, and were cast brass, often not even touched with a graver's tool. Christopher Gould was making clocks in 1715, and by 1745 Richard Vick's works were put into so-called Chippendale cases. There is such a clock now at Windsor Castle.
All clocks before the eighteenth century had straight tops. An arched top was added, in which could be placed a register for the equation of time. On some of the latest clocks by Tompion, dated about 1709, four years before his death, such an arch is found. It is considered greatly to improve the appearance of the face of the clock, and it was utilized for decoration if not for a time register. Name-plates were put there, and a handsome dolphin was engraved or mounted on the dial on either side of the name-plate. A fine specimen of such a clock made by John Carmichael, Greenock, Scotland, and put in a mahogany case, has been owned by a family now living in Rochester, N. Y.
In this same year Basil Francis offers;
"£1 reward for any information of a man who did in a fraudulent manner obtain one pinchbeck watch with a single case, winds up in the face, the hole where the key goes a little flowered."
There were even higher rewards offered at this time for the return of lost watches, probably not "pinchbeck," for a "military gentleman offers for the return of his watch and no questions asked." The English officers made the winter of 1778-9 very gay in New York, quite rivaling Philadelphia, and set the fashion, which was esteemed very polite, of wearing two watches. The Quaker City considered this custom ridiculous. Eli Terry, of Windsor, Conn., was one of the first clockmakers in the United States, though James Harrison began to manufacture at Waterbury, Conn., as early as 1790. The first clock he made was entered in his books, "January 1, 1791, at £3 12s 8d." Yet clocks were made even earlier than this, for in 1783 the Assembly of Connecticut awarded a patent for fourteen years to Benjamin Hanks, of Litchfield, Conn., for a self-winding clock. It was to wind itself by the help of air.
In East Windsor, Conn., Daniel Burnap carried on the manufacture of brass clocks. William Tenny was one of the earliest makers of brass work clocks in the United States, and worked at Nine Corners, Dutchess Co., N. Y. Eli Terry made wooden works for his clocks, although he had been instructed in his business by Daniel Burnap, who used brass as well as wooden works, and made tall-case clocks with long pendulums. These clocks were by no means cheap, ranging from $18 to $48, the more expensive ones having a brass dial, a dial for seconds, the moon's phases, and a better case.
Terry's wooden-work clocks were well made and were good time keepers, and were distributed all over New England by peddlers. In 1807 Terry undertook to make five hundred clocks; this overstocked the market, and he was forced t0 reduce the price from $25 to $15, and then to $10. Before 1800 the best-known clockmakers in the United States were Daniel Burnap, Silas Merriam, Thomas Harland, Timothy Peck, and James Harrison, all of Connecticut. From 1806 to 18i5 the number of clockmakers largely increased, and Seth Thomas, Silas Hoadley, Herman Clark, and Asa Hopkins were some of the best-known men engaged in the making.
In 1814 Terry invented what was called the "short-shelf clock," in which, by a change of arrangement and smaller weights, the pendulum being brought forward and greatly shortened and the weights being carried and run on each side, the whole was reduced to a more compact form. Clock and case were sold for a moderate sum. These clocks, like the tall-case ones, were made with wooden wheels, but after the introduction of rolled brass, machinery was invented by which blank wheels could be struck out with a die, the teeth afterward cut by machinery, and the brass-wheel clocks made cheaper than the wooden. This was about 1837.
The next improvement was substituting springs for weights. This had been done in Europe for two hundred years, but only with the most costly parlour clocks, and the springs were equal to the best watch-springs. Many kinds of cheaper springs had been tried without success, till a superior steel spring was invented in the United States, and the springs thus produced have for many years been sold at a price compatible with cheap clocks.
The wooden pendulum covered with gold leaf, which is one of the characteristics of a regulator clock, was invented by Silas B. Terry, a son of Eli. America has long taken a leading place in the making of clocks, and that desire to have the biggest and best which is characteristic of the youngest nation has influenced clock-making.
For many years England prided herself on having the largest clock in the world. It is on the Houses of Parliament, London, and is known as the Westminster clock. Its dial faces measure 22 feet 6 inches in diameter. A larger one, however, has been erected during the past few years in Minneapolis, Minn., by an American clockmaker. These dial faces measure 22 feet 8 inches in diameter, and the Westminster clock has receded to second place.
Among extraordinary clocks which have from time to time been invented, none is more curious than that made in 1767 by David Rittenhouse, of Philadelphia. It has six dials; on the main one there are four hands which indicate seconds, minutes, hours, and days, giving one day more to February in leap year. Phases of the moon are also shown. The second dial shows the movements of planets about the sun; the third, the moon revolving about the earth; the four, the movements of Saturn; the fifth whether sun time is fast or slow with meridian time; while the sixth gives the combination of chimes which sound quarter hours, a choice of any one of ten tunes being played y pressing a knob on the dial.
It is not often in the United States that there is a record of any piece of furniture staying in the same place for twenty-five, much less one hundred years. Yet in Westernville, Oneida Co., N. Y., there is an old "grandfather's" clock ticking away, which with the new year of 1903 is said to have stood in its present position a hundred years. The home which holds this venerable time-piece was built by General William Floyd, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and the old house has weathered the storms as well as the clock. Built in the centre of a ten. thousand-acre tract of land acquired from the Indians in 1788, the lands have gradually been sold, but four hundred acres still remain surrounding the old homestead. The old mansion is well preserved, and there have been no changes beyond necessary repairs. It is of Colonial architecture, and its interior furnishings form a feast for the lovers of the antique. There are some rare pieces of furniture imported from England over a century ago. The house belongs to the widow of Admiral Sicard, and was left her by her father, the grandson of General Floyd.
Of the tall-case clocks there were many to be found all over the South, in some instances case and all being brought from England, while in others, as was often done, the case was made by the local cabinetmaker. Many such clocks have, within recent years, found their way into Newport, R. I., which is quite a paradise for the antiquarian. The history of these old clocks is strange. During the Civil War the negroes appropriated many articles from the manor houses which had been deserted, or partially sacked or burned, and carried them to their cabins. Among such loot were many clocks, but they were too tall to get into the cabin doors or to stand upright afterward. So they were cut down, generally at the base, for the ornamental tops, particularly if there were brass ornaments on the top, appealed to their new owners. A dealer from Newport heard of them, and went to Virginia, buying all of these sawed off clocks he could find. He took them home, had the cases restored, and sold them all for good prices.
Figure 97. Mantel Clocks
One of the most famous names in the history of clock-making in America is that of Willard, and to a certain style of clock this name has been applied. There were at least four clock-makers by this name, Simon, Aaron, Benjamin, and Simon Jr. It is supposed to be the latter who made the style of clock also known as "banjo," although Mr. Lockwood considers there is great doubt on the subject. One of these clocks is shown in Figure 95. They had no striking machinery, and often varied as to the lower part, occasionally being furnished with a brass ornament. This one has a view of Mt. Vernon, and belonged to the late Mr. Alfred Hosmer, of Concord, Mass. These clocks were made during the first twenty years of the nineteenth century. The works are of brass and generally of excellent make.
In 1802 "Willard of Boston," who was, no doubt, Benjamin, who had work-shops at Roxbury and Grafton as well as in Boston, took out a patent for his timepieces. At this same period Terry began business on a larger scale and by waterpower. In 1814 he introduced the shelf or mantel-clock, which he patented in 1816. Three pf this style of clock are shown in Figure 97. All are in good condition and are still running. They belong to Mr. William M. Hoyt, of Rochester, N. Y.
The central clock is a very
handsome one of mahogany, with a carved case. The ornament on the top is an
eagle, and the posts are leaves bound with a rope. The face of Washington
painted on the glass is much better than those portraits usually are, and loses
much in the reproduction. This clock Was made by Ephraim Downs, of Bristol,
Conn. The clock on the left, made by Chauncey Ives, is also a Bristol one, for
Connecticut early obtained and has always retained an eminence in the clock
business. It has an ornamental case with handsomely carved pineapples on top,
and a swan-necked cornice. The one on the right, with claw feet, has a very handsome
decoration of painted patterns on a black ground. On the inner part of the case
is pasted a paper which reads as follows:
PATENTED BY ELI TERRY
AND MADE AND SOLD BY SETH THOMAS
PLYMOUTH MASS. WARRANTED IF WELL USED."
The faces of all three are painted on tin, the two Bristol clocks having ornamentation of gold in the corners. These clocks all date from 1815-20, but the one by Seth Thomas may be a trifle earlier.
A more modern clock than any of the foregoing, yet one of interest, nevertheless, is one in the commandant's office in the Navy Yard, Brooklyn. This old clock, which, although fifty-four years old, is not only in good running order, but practically furnishes the official time for the yard, occupies a prominent position in the outer office of Rear-Admiral Barker's suite. Its dial is about the same size as those seen in the clocks of to-day that keep the official time, but it is operated y a spring instead of weights. Its mahogany case is handsomely carved, and its brass hands shine in a way that shows the care that it receives. The following inscription, revealing the age of the clock, appears on the case:
PRESENTED TO THE
U. S. FRIGATE BRANDYWINE,
BY THE CREW, 1849.
No one in the yard knows how the old clock got there, — it probably drifted there, as have so many other waifs and strays. At noon every day it is set by official time received from the Naval Observatory in Washington, and most of the other clocks in the yard depend upon this reliable timepiece which has come down from the frigate "Brandywine."
The collecting of clocks is a fad which few people indulge in. Yet there are those who own ten or a dozen timepieces, and who like to have them in running order. The old Dutch clocks, while looking very well, are notoriously ill-regulated time-keepers. A collector took a prize lately acquired to an old German clock-repairer who seemed more learned in the ways of ancient clocks than many a more pretentious maker. The clock did not come home when it was promised, and the owner went to see what was the matter. She found her old clockmaker diligently studying a little German volume with a title which read something like this, "Thirteen Hundred Reasons why a Clock in Perfect Order Won't Run."