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Fig. 2. Back of Brass Table Clock of Sixteenth Century, bequeathed

by the late Hugh J. Rollo, W.S.

knobs immediately above them. This would enable a person in the dark to tell the hour by feeling the hands and comparing them with the knobs, and it would also be suitable for use by a blind person. Inside the outer circle of Roman numerals is a circle of Arabic figures beginning with 13 under one o'clock and running up to 24. The inner part of the circle is ornamented with a sun in splendour. Both hour- and minute-hands are made of steel.

The movement is a complicated one, striking the hours and quarters on two bells. The larger of these bells, which lies neatly inside the case, is struck by the hour hammer, and the smaller or quarter bell lies in the inside bottom of the larger one. This last is in the shape of a shallow saucer, as it must of necessity occupy little space. The larger bell is also pierced for the emission of the sound of the smaller one which lies inside it. The movement, which is jointed to the case, when shut down occupies the space inside the larger bell.

From this brief description an idea may be formed of the arrangement of the movement, and bells inside the case, where the space is economically utilised. The plates of the movement are of gilt brass, and the wheels of the quarter and striking train of steel. It is evident that at one time one of the wheels in the quarter train has been injured and has been replaced by a brass one. The wheels of the going train are all brass. The escapement is that known as the verge, which, although varying in detail, is the earliest form of escapement with which we are acquainted. It is also fitted with a brass balance and an ordinary steel balance spring.

In this clock there is no fusee to control the force of the spring, although this was invented as early as 1525, but in its place there is applied to the going train an earlier contrivance known as the stackfreed (fig. 3). This was meant to regulate and equalise the motive force, as a spring fully wound up is very much stronger than when nearly run down. It is not of the usual shape met with, and may be regarded as an improved form. It consists of a strong curved spring, with a roller at its extreme end, resting on a snail which revolves as the

piece runs down. When the clock is run down, the roller rests lightly on the smallest diameter of the snail, and does not retard the pull of the mainspring; but when the spring is being wound up, the snail also turns in the winding. It thus presents a larger diameter to the roller of the stackfreed, which presses harder on the increasing diameter, and when fully wound it rests on the full diameter of the snail with the greatest pressure, so that its pressure and retarding influence are in proportion to the pull of the mainspring. This piece of mechanism was only applied

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to very early timekeepers, and as it did not solve the problem of irregular time-keeping, it was quickly discarded.

There were rarely any winding holes in the cases of sixteenth-century clocks, and there are none in this one. To attach the key to the winding squares the case has to be opened and the movement turned out. There is attached to the clock by a ribbon a key, which, although undoubtedly antique, does not appear to be the original one.

There is happily no doubt as to where, nor by whom, and approximately when this interesting old timekeeper was made. On early clocks and watches the maker's name is rarely found; but occasionally the town mark or the workman's mark is stamped on one of the plates, and

on this clock there is found, struck on the upper plate of the movement, the device of a crossed shovel and spade between the initials "H. G." (fig. 4). Through an inquiry in the Horological Journal it has been ascertained that this mark was used by the old Nuremberg watchmaker Hans Gruber, who became a master of the Locksmiths' Guild in 1552, and, as is recorded in an old obituary book of the royal district archives of Nuremberg, died in January 1597, so that between these two years this clock was made. The device is interesting, as it is a play on the name of the maker. A "grüber" is a digger, so the spade and Maker's Mark. shovel are peculiarly appropriate. In the Germanische National Museum at Nuremberg there is a saddle watch with the same mark.

Fig. 4.


The fixing of the date and the present condition of the clock raise many interesting points as to the amount of alteration and renovation the movement has undergone when later improvements and discoveries in the mechanism of clocks were made. At the period of its manufacture screws were just coming into use, Germany being the country of their origin, and most of the screws in this timekeeper show themselves to be hand-made, although one or two have been replaced by more modern ones. It is also evident that the escapement is not the original one, as the balance spring was not invented till 1658, and it is most likely that, with the exception of the main wheel, a new going train of brass wheels with a balance and balance spring were supplied at a much later date. This is evident from an examination of the wheels. The new ones are clearly machine-cut and well finished, and were likely supplied subsequently to 1660, while the older steel wheels are as clearly cut by hand with a file. A regulator, consisting of a pinion and segment of a circle carrying the regulating pins, has also been supplied. The addition of a minute-hand to clocks is first recorded as having taken place in 1665, and in this instance the alteration has been so carefully done as not to leave any trace.

The pierced metal dome in place of a glass is also noteworthy, and

corroborates the date ascribed to the clock, for glasses were not used for table clocks until a later period.

It may not be amiss to note how closely this clock is linked to the original of this class of timekeeper. It was not, of course, until the mainspring was introduced as the motive power instead of weights that it became possible to have a portable timepiece, and it is generally conceded that the manufacture of this was first accomplished by Peter Henlein, a clockmaker of Nuremberg, who died in 1542. The earliest date to which this clock can be ascribed is 1552, so that it appears that Henlein and Gruber were almost contemporary.

Table clocks or watches of the sixteenth century are exceedingly rare, and, outside of museums and collections, there are almost no specimens to be met with, so that the bequest of Mr Hugh J. Rollo of this clock to the Museum is of great value.


The smaller table clock might be more correctly styled an alarum repeating clock-watch. It measures 3 inches in diameter, 2 inches in thickness, and weighs 1 lb. 12 ozs. avoirdupois. Its maker was Nicholas Bernard, who worked in Paris about 1700. A watch made by him is exhibited in the South Kensington Museum.

The case of this watch is of silver, elaborately pierced and engraved with French decoration of the period (fig. 5). The centre of the back is filled with scrolls of floral ornament with cupids introduced. In the rim, which is treated in similar style, are introduced two curious tilting scenes. In one two winged knights, mounted respectively on a goat and a dog, are tilting with sharpened lances; and in the other, two winged cupids, mounted on hobby-horses formed of poles with the heads respectively of a horse and a cow, are tilting with lances with windmill-shaped terminations at the points.

The watch has an enamelled dial with Roman chapters, the minutes being numbered on the top of the chapters from 5 to 60 in Arabic figures. In the centre of the dial is a movable circle also enamelled

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