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Origins of “Clock”

The word ‘clock’ comes from the French word “cloche” meaning bell.The Latin for bell is glocio, the Saxon is clugga and the German is glocke.

Famous Clocks

One of the most famous clocks is in the cathedral of Strasbourg; the clock was first placed in the cathedral in 1352, and in the 16th cent. it was reconstructed. In the 19th cent. a new astronomical clock (so called because it shows the current positions of the sun, moon, and other heavenly bodies in addition to the time of day) similar to the original clock was constructed; its elaborate mechanical devices include the Twelve Apostles, a crowing cock, a revolving celestial globe, and an automatic calendar dial.Among other well-known clocks of the world are the clock known as Big Ben in the tower next to Westminster Bridge in the British Houses of Parliament and the tower clock in the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company building, New York Preston.

Alarm Clocks

An early prototype of the alarm clock was invented by the Greeks around 250 BC. The Greeks built a water clock where the raising waters would both keep time and eventually hit a mechanical bird that triggered an alarming whistle.The first mechanical alarm clock was invented by Levi Hutchins of Concord, New Hampshire, in 1787. However, the ringing bell alarm on his clock could ring only at 4 am. On October 24, 1876 a mechanical wind-up alarm clock that could be set for any time was patented (#183,725) by Seth E Thomas.

Sun Clocks

The Sumerian culture was lost without passing on its knowledge, but the Egyptians were apparently the next to formally divide their day into parts something like our hours. Obelisks (slender, tapering, four-sided monuments) were built as early as 3500 BCE. Their moving shadows formed a kind of sundial, enabling people to partition the day into morning and afternoon. Obelisks also showed the year’s longest and shortest days when the shadow at noon was the shortest or longest of the year. Later, additional markers around the base of the monument would indicate further subdivisions of time.

The Minuet Hand

In 1577, Jost Burgi invented the minute hand. Burgi’s invention was part of a clock made for Tycho Brahe, an astronomer who needed an accurate clock for his stargazing.

Earliest Types Of Clocks

Water clocks were among the earliest timekeepers that didn’t depend on the observation of celestial bodies. One of the oldest was found in the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep I, buried around 1500 BCE. Later named clepsydras (“water thieves”) by the Greeks, who began using them about 325 BCE, these were stone vessels with sloping sides that allowed water to drip at a nearly constant rate from a small hole near the bottom.Other clepsydras were cylindrical or bowl-shaped containers designed to slowly fill with water coming in at a constant rate. Markings on the inside surfaces measured the passage of “hours” as the water level reached them. These clocks were used to determine hours at night, but may have been used in daylight as well. Another version consisted of a metal bowl with a hole in the bottom; when placed in a container of water the bowl would fill and sink in a certain time. These were still in use in North Africa in the 20th century.

History Of The Grandfather Clock

In 1656 a Dutchman named Christian Huygens was the first person to use a pendulum, as a driving device, in clocks. This was the birth of the Grandfather clock or, to use the correct terminology, Long Case clock.The first Long Case Clocks were produced in Britain, after the London clock maker Ahasuerus Fromenteel sent his son to Holland to learn about the use of a pendulum.For the first 15 years clock makers struggled to develop a pendulum device capable of keep accurate time. By 1670 an anchor escapement had been developed, that when used in conjunction with a pendulum great accuracy could be achieved. This development ensured that history would remember Britain as the dominating producer in the world of clock making. Names such as Joseph Knibb, Thomas Tompian, George Graham, and Daniel Quare all come to mind when discussing the history of Long Case Clocks.The earliest cases were made from oak and were architectural in appearance. Higher quality clocks would be finished with ebony or pearwood.Later cases were made from high quality African mahogany. Today, beautiful examples of what is called “flame mahogany” can also be seen.Early dials were square and made of brass. In 1772 Osborn & Wilson, from Birmingham, introduced the white dial. These early dials had simple decorations, such as birds or strawberries. By 1830 small painted scenes, in the corners and arch, were depicted on dials.

The Prague Astronomical Clock

The timepiece is also called Prague Orloj and it represents a medieval astronomical clock. Visitors can enjoy the wonderful look of the clock on the southern wall of Old Town Preston Hall, which is in the Old Town Square.Three main components make up the whole Prague Orloj. These are: the astronomical dial, which shows the position of the Sun and Moon; “The Walk of the Apostles”, which is a clockwork hourly show of several moving sculptures; and finally a calendar dial, having twelve medallions, each one of them representing one month.The clock has golden Roman numbers located at the outer edge of blue circle. These numerals represent the timescale of a 24 hour day. The curved golden lines that divide into 12 parts the blue part of dial represent marks for unequal hours, which can be defined as 1/12 of the time between sunrise and sunset. As the days get longer or shorter the markers vary during the year. Withing a large black outer circle there is another movable circle which includes signs of the zodiac. These are shown in anticlockwise order.The watch has a golden Sun that moves around the zodiacal circle. In such a way the clock shows the position of the sun on the ecliptic. In the same way the timepiece shows the current position of the moon on the ecliptic.

Thomas Tompion Clock Restoration

We are incredibly honoured to have just completed restoration of a Thomas Tompion bracket clock for a private collector, photo gallery coming soon!Thomas Tompion (1639–1713) was an English master clockmaker and watchmaker known today as the father of English clockmaking as stated on the plaque that commemorates the house he shared on Fleet Street with also renowned clockmaker George Graham.His work includes some of the most important clocks and watches in the world and his work commands huge prices whenever it appears at auction. His apprentices included George Allett, Edward Banger, Henry Carlowe, Daniel Delander, Ricard Ems, Ambrose Gardner, Obadiah Gardner, William Graham (nephew of George Graham), George Harrison, Whitestone Littlemore, Jerimiah Martin, Charles Molins, William Mourlay, Charles Murray, Robert Pattison, William Sherwood, Richard Street, Charles Sypson, William Thompson, James Tunn and Thomas White many of whom became important clockmakers in their own right.

Edward East

Edward East, one the most noted of English makers, was at work by 1620, and became watchmaker to Charles I.Henry Jones was at the height of his fame about 1673, and Samuel Betts about 1640. Thomas Tompion, known as the “Father of English watchmaking” had by 1658 attained much renown. He was succeeded by Daniel Quare, who had a shop at St. Martin’s le Grand, London, in 1676.

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