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Thursday, December 8, 2016

The "Time And Time Again: Part I - The Museum" Story

Upon entering the town of Columbia, I was greeted with
this mural. Click on images to enlarge them.
It was an ordinary day.  Sitting in the National Watch and Clock Museum Theater watching an interesting ten minute video about "Time".  Happen to be the only one in the theater on this overcast and rainy day.  The museum is located in Columbia, Pennsylvania, about twenty minutes from my home in Lancaster.  Have been meaning to visit the museum for years, but never found the time (pun intended).  The beautiful majestic stone pillars in the front of the building are an omen as to what one will find inside the doors of the museum.  This museum is dedicated solely to horology or the science and art of timekeeping and timekeepers.  The National Watch and Clock Museum was founded in 1977 by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors and featured less than 1,000 items.  
The National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, PA
Today the museum is consider- ably larger and has at least 12,000 items which show and tell the complete history of time- keepers from non-mechanical devices such as sun-dials and hour-glasses to the atomic clock.  Some of the displays are interactive and some are immense such as the Monument Clocks.  My friend Jerry is a miniature railroad fan so I enjoyed the Railroad watches collection.  There are timepieces from nations all over the world.  Asian timepieces from Japan and China, European clocks from Germany, France and the Netherlands and technological items from Russia all line the shelves and display cases in this museum.  Pocket watches, Regulators, Novelty clocks, car clocks, Military clocks, alarm clocks, and even James Bond's wristwatches hold prominent places in this museum.  
The gift shop at the museum
The place is huge!  I arrived at approxi- mately 1:30 pm and I was worried I wouldn't be able to see everything in the museum by closing at 4:00 pm.  As it was, I tired before closing time and will make an effort to return and finish those parts of the museum that I missed.  It was truly an impressive display of everything horological and not to be missed.  You are allowed to take non-flash photographs of everything except one special display that I assume changes from time to time (another intended pun).  I will share with you today and over the next two days a few photographs of the many areas of the museum, but by no means will I touch upon the immense quantity and astounding quality of clocks and watches that can be seen at the museum.  It is truly a museum that displays the entire history of timekeeping.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.


This large upright 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.  One of the earliest methods of timekeeping.
Sandglasses were occasionally constructed of a frame with multiple glasses, each measuring a different amount of time.  In this example, the four glasses measure fifteen, thirty, forty-five and sixty minutes, respectively. The size of the opening in the center allows for different amounts of sand to escape.
In 300 AD astronomers were using a compact, hand-held instrument called an astrolabe to observe the altitudes and positions of celestial bodies.  This instrument became popular among the astronomers of medieval and Renaissance Europe.
Scholars theorize that the primary purpose of the Antikythera mechanism was to use gears and dials to exhibit the position of sun and moon in accordance with the phases of the moon.
This is an Egyptian Clepsydra reproduction from 1400 B.C.  The sides of the vase are adorned with hieroglyphics around three bands.  When in use the clepsydra would be filled with water and as the water flowed out thorugh a small hole near the bottom of the device, the interior dotted lines provided a means of determining how much time had passed by observing the diminishing water level.
This table clock is from around 1660.  It has a brass fusee, spring-driven movement and crown verge escapement.  The iron case is extensively inlaid with silver and depicts allegorical and mythological themes.  The three dials indicate time, day of month and day of the lunar moon.  
This is a Renaissance Clock.  It is a small, highly ornamental clock.  The small size and delicacy of Renaissance clocks necessitated smaller clock movements and the spring-drive mechanism was invented.
This is a tall-case or longcase clock.  Also known as a floor clock or grandfather clock which is a tall, freestanding, weight-driven pendulum clock with the pendulum held inside the tower of the clock.  The case often featured elaborately carved ornamentation with a decorated clock face.   The clock in the center was made by John Eberman, Jr. who worked on North Queen Street in Lancaster, PA from 1772 to 1807.  It has a 30-hour movement.  I must have examined over 50 of these beautiful clocks from all over the world.
A shelf clock from around 1830 made by Henry Ober of nearby Elizabethtown, PA.  These clocks are weight-driven and has an eight-day clock movement.  The case is cherry wood with mahogany veneer on the door.
A pocket watch from 1896.  This Swiss watch was donated to the museum by Ambassador Donald C. Johnson.
This 1890 Cuckoo Clock is from Germany.  The hunting motif was a common one on German Cuckoo clocks.  This clock has a carved walnut case with a thirty-hour brass movement which strikes the hour on a gong as well as the famiiar cuckoo birdcall. When every 15 minutes passes in the museum, the place comes alive with sounds from around the world.
An 1880 Picture Clock from Munich, Germany.  Reverse painting on the glass was used to create the beautiful dial on the clock.  It has a thirty-hour movement with steel pivots and brass gears.
This is a shelf clock from Plymouth, Connecticut, c. 1822. Clocks such as this were known as Salem Bridge clocks.   
This pocket watch was made in Lancaster, PA at Hamilton Watch Company in 1935.
This is an advertisement from the 1830s.  The first railroads had a need for controlling train movements and used systems based upon time.  Each railroad defined their own "Standard Time."  Train crews used imported watches until American-made 11 or 15 jewel watches became available in the 1850s and 1860s.  The watches were improved to 17 or more jewels in the 1890s.  Railroad time systems disappeared after radio-controlled timekeeping took over in the 1990s.
An advertising board from 1900 which is advertising for pocket watches used by train personnel.  The ad is for the Rockford Watch Co. in Illinois.
This is the working mechcanism of the E. Howard Tower Clock produced in Boston, MA.  The company manufactured their No. 2 Tower Clock in two models.  One was called the Striker and featured a seven-foot dial with bells weighing 2,500 pounds.  The other was the Special and had an eight-foot dial and 3,500 pound bells.  The one shown is for the Striker.  The list price for this particular clock was $775.
This clock tower was made by Lancaster clockmaker John Eberman Jr.  He had a shop in Lancaster from 1772 to 1807 where he made tallcase movements as well as the one on the top of the Lancaster County Courthouse shown here.  Only three of his tower clock movements still exist; The movement in this courthouse, which is in the Museum's permanent collection, the movement in the Moravian Church in Nazareth, PA, and the partial movement in the Moravian Church in Lititz, PA which was destroyed by fire with a few of the pieces of the clock still remaining.
I enjoyed this display of James Bond quartz watches from movies during the years 1973 to 1995.

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