Thursday, June 13, 2019

National Watch & Clock Museum, Columbia, Pennsylvania

The National Watch & Clock Museum was a fantastic place to visit. I don't know how I find these places, but we were glad to visit it. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did through my blog. This is just a sampling of the clocks they have in the museum. 

"What exists everywhere in the universe but occupies no space? What can be measured, but not seen, heard, smelled, tasted, nor held in our hands? What can be spent, saved, frittered away or killed, but never destroyed?" ~~ TIME

The ancient timepieces in the museum are the early evidence of our enduring fascination with time. Though they date from a really long time ago, they point the way to the watches, clocks, and calendars of today ~~ and the revelations about time that still lie ahead. 

Circa 1676
Tellerhur c. 1680
The Tellerhur (plate or dish clock) was made in southern Germany and Austria in the 17th century. There is a pendulum that swings in front of the dial. There is a detailed cast brass sliding bob on the pendulum that depicts a mother, father, and child, possibly "The Holy Family."

This piece was discovered in 1900 near the island of Crete. It was later established that a ship carrying cargo from the seaport of Rhodes sank around 80 B.C. This piece is a calendrical Sun and Moon computing mechanism. 

The mechanism is named for the small Greek islet of Antikythera, near which it was found.

To scholars, the most amazing feature is its complex array of dials, gears and gear differentials. It tells us that the ancient Greeks, masters of sculpting, philosophy, art, oratory, and political theory, were developers of scientific instruments as well. Scholars theorize that the primary purpose of the Antikythera mechanism was to use gears and dials to exhibit the position of the sun and moon in accordance with the phases of the moon.  

A gear and worm wheel device was in use in the ancient world at least as early as 280 B.C., in the war engines of Archimedes. Cicero wrote of another Archimedes construction, a "globe on which were delineated the motions of the Sun and Moon and of those five stars which are called wanderers [the planets then known to astronomers]." On this globe the seven heavenly bodies moved in synchronization as they would in the sky. 

It would be 15 centuries before the engineering ideas embodied in the Antikythera mechanism appear again in European history ~ this time in a clock fashioned by clockmaker named Jost Burgi (known as the second Archimedes).

We all know this monument in the south of England. It is over 5,000 years old and one of several hundred stone complexes in the British Isles. The building of Stonehenge took over a dozen centuries starting with the Neolithic (Stone Age) period. The first section was started around 3,000 B.C. with construction lasting until 1600 B.C. 

Time Frame
Su Sung's Marvelous Creation
Water clocks appeared in China around 200 A.D. Over the next centuries they were developed to predict astronomical phenomena. The concept reached new heights in 1088 A.D. with a magnificent water clock created by scientist Su Sung for the imperial court. The tower stood 30 feet tall; on the top platform rested an armillary sphere that tracked the sun, moon, and stars in their orbit. Around the clockworks marched mannequins, periodically ringing bells and chimes to sound the hours. This was powered by water. 

Candle Timekeeper
Legend has it that when Saxon King Alfred the Great (849-899 AD) was overthrown he vowed that he would devote a third of his time to God's service if he were restored to power. He honored his solemn vow by setting aside a third of his day to God, a third to public matters and a third to eating and rest. To divide and measure his day he burned six candles. The candles were each one foot high and subdivided into twelve 1" sections. A single candle burned at the rate of 20 minutes an inch each hour. In this manner the King would be advised as to how long he was utilizing his time. 

Sundial, circa 1639
This large sundial is made of stone and has a brass gnomon. There is a face carved at the top of the dial and the date "1639" is carved along the front of the base. 

Sundials indicate the time of day by the position of a shadow cast by a vertical indicator called a gnomon onto a surface which bears a specially constructed hour-scale permanently associated with the gnomon. Sundials are among the oldest scientific instruments known, the earliest evidence of them coming in the form of two Egyptian fragments dating from 1500 to 1000 B.C.

Reading the skies

By 300 A.D. astronomers in Alexandria, Egypt were using an astrolabe to observe the altitudes and positions of the celestial bodies. The astrolabe is a mapping of the position of the stars and planets, projected from the South Pole. The positions of the stars are transposed from the three-dimensional sky to the two-dimensional surface of the object. 

Circa 16th Century
This is a reproduction of a timepiece with foliot escapement, which illustrates the earliest escapement used in mechanical clockwork. It requires daily windings.

Chamber Clock, circa 1625
Iron chamber clock from southern Germany. This clock strikes the hours and half hours on two separate bells. The hand points to the symbol for the weekday planets. The clock runs for about 30 hours between windings.

Musical Bracket Clock, circa 1785
This is a six tune carillon clock that plays on a nest of twelve bells which can be seen through the back door. The names of the tunes appear in Spanish at the top of the arched dial. The three-train movement is spring driven with three fusees and a crown wheel and verge escarpment.

Bracket Clock, circa 1700
Prior to Italian unification in 1870, the Papal States used an unusual system for measuring time. The day was divided into four periods of six hours each. As a result, Italian clocks were made with dials marking six hours or twelve hours numbered in two sequences of one to six.

Tallcase Clocks, circa 1800
Yagura-Dokei, circa 1875
The double twelve-hour dial indicates that this clock was most likely produced around the time Japan adopted the twenty-four hour European system of timekeeping. 

Jim's Clock (has JK imprinted on it)

Triple Decker Shelf Clock, circa 1842

Many small firms emerged in the wake of Eli Terry's success, copying his process and product. By the 1830s the market was flooded with Connecticut-made wooden movement shelf clocks. While competition drove down prices and quality, it also lowered prices, meaning that more people could afford a clock.

By 1850 over half a million brass shelf clocks were being manufactured by 15 clock making firms in Connecticut. By that time one in three central New England households had a clock; most of them made in Connecticut.

Orrery Clock, circa 1825
Eight-day, time-and-strike spring brass movement in French style amboyna wood case, sitting atop a music box in the base. An orrery, or mechanical model of the solar system, is geared to the clockwork below and regulated by a gridiron pendulum to give an accurate representation of the rates of motion of the moon and stars. It is believed that only a dozen of these clocks were created, and they were mostly made for members of royal families or important dignitaries. 

Cuckoo Clock, circa 1890
Early American Watchmaking ~ circa 1800-1860. Watchmaking in the 1700s and early 1800s was centered in Switzerland and England. Prior to 1850, pocket watch production involved dozens of specialized trades, many of which did not exist in America. Because of this, few Americans prior to 1850 attempted to make watches from scratch. Watches sold in America were either purchased in Europe in finished form, or imported in a rough state and finished here. Most American watchmakers of the period found it necessary to supplement their earnings by also working as clockmakers, jewelry makers, silversmiths, or in other related trades.

Print of an Elgin Watch Movement
Top of the World, then Winding Down
By the time the Waltham Watch Company showcased its product at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, quality watches were being produced in America in large quantities ~ at affordable prices. The boom was short-lived; competition and poor economic conditions in the 1880s resulted in bankruptcies throughout the industry. New inexpensive dollar pocket watches put some life into the market, but by the 1920s Swiss companies were once again competing, this time with wrist watches. The Great Depression of the 1930s created national economic hardship, and only three American watch companies survived: Eglin, Waltham, and Hamilton.

Watch Factories
Floor Regulator, circa 1870
Regulators were first introduced in the early 18th century. Both astronomers and surveyors, whose observations required the utmost accuracy, used regulators. They were designed with a deadbeat escapement and were always weight driven. Made exclusively to keep time, regulators omitted unessential complications such as striking mechanisms, calendar work, and moon dials. They were produced without motion works (where the hour and minute hands work off the same arbor) in an effort to reduce friction. Therefore, instead of a typical clock dial, the dials of early regulators were sectionalized into separate second, minute, and hour circles, each with its own hand.

Wall Regulator, circa 1870
Calendar Regulator No. 1, circa 1870
This early No. 1 Calendar has a weight driven 8 day time only movement, commonly referred to as an "upside down" movement, since the escape wheel and verge are at the bottom of the movement, below the winding arbors. 

Jewelers, Jobbers, and General Stores arose throughout the late 1800s in cities and towns and by the turn of the century, the corner jewelry store was something of an American institution. 

Marine Chronometers
Marine Chronometer, circa 1860
Tower Clock, circa 1888
The E. Howard Company manufactured their No. 2 tower clock in two models. This model is called a Striker, designed for clocks with seven foot dials and bells weighing 2,500 pounds. This Striker is fitted with the optional Dennison double three-legged gravity escapement and half-hour strike. The original pendulum and bob have been replaced with a shorter version to permit operating the movement in its current display. The clock was originally installed in the Eddington Industrial School, Eddington, Pennsylvania in 1888. The list price was $775.

Model 0 Tower Timepiece, No. 1526
Tower Clock, circa 1871
Big Ben
One of the world's most famous clocks is Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster in London, England. The name Big Ben refers to the huge 13.5 ton bell that sounds the hours. The origin of the bell's name is unclear. Some say its eponym was Sir Benjamin Hall, First Commissioner of Works, 1855-58; others claim that either one of two well-known prize fighters, Benjamin Brian or Benjamin Gaunt. Yet others assert that Big Ben was simply 19th century slang for anything that was the biggest of its kind. 

Precision Clock, 1929 
The Hamilton Watch Company utilized this high-grade precision clock to adjust all watches and to generate constant frequency alternating current for time microscopes. Housed in a sealed vault in the lobby of the factory building, the clock was mounted on a 27,000 pound insulted foundation to it would not be disturbed by ground vibrations. Constant temperature was maintained by an electronic control mechanism and constant pressure was maintained by the air tight "tank" case. Every aspect of the clock was designed to maintain precise accuracy. 

Precision Regular Clocks
Monumental Clock

The Engle Clock
While we were at the museum, there was a demonstration of Mr. Engle's clock. It was quite fascinating. It is 11' high, 8' wide, and 3' deep. It does not look like much from the picture, but it has 48 moving figures, and a tellurian that illustrates the positions of the moon, constellations, and zodiac relative to the rotating earth. The clock also indicates such things as the months, days of week, moon phases, and tides. When it runs, it has moving figures that include Jesus Christ, the twelve Apostles, the three Marys, Satan, Father Time, the three Ages of Man, Death, Justice, Orpheus, and Linus. A depiction of Continental soldiers marching past Molly Pitcher on their way to the Battle of Monmouth. A figure of Stephen Engle himself (representing "Middle Age") functions as an animated signature of the clock's maker. All these depictions come out of the doors. 

Advertising Clock, circa 1890

The history of daylight saving time started in the 18th century with Benjamin Franklin. He suggested that clocks be set ahead during the summer in the interests of productivity and fuel efficiency. Daylight saving time (or "summer time") was used first by Germany in 1915 and then Britain in 1916 during World War I. The extra hour of daylight allowed armies and industries to conserve fuel and power during wartime. 

The United States began using daylight saving time in 1918 when it was established by the Standard Time Act. Due to its unpopularity, it was repeated in 1919 after which time became a local matter. It was reinstated during World War II and was observed continuously from February 9, 1942 to September 20, 1945.

In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which let individual communities decide whether or not to observe daylight saving time. It also set the beginning and ending dates of daylight time -- the last Sunday in April and the last Sunday in October. In 1986 President Reagan signed a bill permanently changing the starting date to the first Sunday in April. Most of the U.S. observes daylight saving time, with the exceptions of Arizona, Hawaii, and most of Indiana. Many other countries observe some form of "summer time," but they do not necessarily change their clocks on the same date.

Congreve rolling ball timepiece, circa 1885

Cuckoo Clocks

Hamilton Space Clock or Mars Clock, circa 1955
The numbers around the face indicate Mars time, and the three subsidiary dials show Martian date, earth time and earth date.

In 1961 Elvis Presley wore his own Hamilton Ventura in the film Blue Hawaii. It was just one of the many Hamilton timepieces "The King" would come to own and wear over the years.

The 1930s was the start of the wristwatch. Rolex launched its "Oyster" wristwatch in 1927 and the wristwatch became the preferred timepiece. By the 1930s the wristwatch officially took over the pocket watch at 50 million pieces. 

Amelia Earhart, circa 1930s
Mickey Mouse
Prototype of the two millionth Martin Guitar
One of two prototypes created to help develop Martin's two millionth manufactured guitar. Designed by artist Robert Goetzl and watch maker Roland Murphy of RGM Watch Company, this guitar took three years to develop and six months to make the prototypes. The watch movement design is inspired by RGM's in-house caliber 20 watch movement, and a modified Caliber 20 is built into a special case in the headstock on the actual two millionth. Martin is also making a more reserved version called the D-200 of which only 50 will be made. An RGM wristwatch is included with the purchase of each D-200 guitar. The actual two millionth guitar is housed at the C.F. Martin Museum at the factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

Pulzar Analyzer
Tall Case Clock, circa 1840s-50s
Girandole Timepiece, 1978
The girandole is a decorative variation of the patent timepiece. This example is a reproduction of one made by Lemuel Curtis (1790-1857). The clock has an eight-day movement.

Willard Timepiece, 1983
The lower glass commemorates Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's victory at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

Tower Clock, circa 1900

Eberman Tower Clock, 1784
Ceiling tower inside the main hall of the museum

Quote for the day: "When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute -- and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity." ~~ Albert Einstein

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