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clocks-msg - 11/25/16


Medieval clocks and concepts of time.


NOTE: See also the files: bells-msg, calendars-msg, sundials-msg, med-calend-art, A-Gear-o-Time-art, Sandglass-art, Watches-art, Time-Keeping-art.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: jde at Unify.com (Jeff Evarts)

Subject: Canonical hours

Organization: Unify Corporation, Sacramento, California, USA

Date: Thu, 31 Mar 1994 16:53:09 GMT


I think someone asked for the nighttime canonical "bells" recently.

According to this (not very referencable) book on my desk, they



        Matins:   M-3

        Latins:   3-6

        Prime:    6-9

        Terce:    9-Noon

        Sexts:    N-3

        Nones:    3-6

        Vespers: 6  Compline: 9-Midnight


But as I recall, the bells were actually based more on percentages

of daylight, so in the sommer, the daylight bells might be more

than 3 hours apart, and in the winter less.


All of this information is on the order of twentieth-hand, so correct

me if I`ve got it wrong.


-Flynn MKA Jeff Evarts



From: DAVIS.JIM at epamail.epa.GOV (JIM DAVIS 919-541-3757)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Canonical hours

Date: 4 Apr 1994 11:42:00 -0400


>I think someone asked for the nighttime canonical "bells" recently.

>According to this (not very referencable) book on my desk, they



>        Matins:   M-3

>        Latins:   3-6



Shouldn't that be lauds?


>But as I recall, the bells were actually based more on percentages

>of daylight, so in the sommer, the daylight bells might be more

>than 3 hours apart, and in the winter less.


That is my understanding also, ie. that 'hours' did not acquire a fixed

periodicity until the widespread use of the mechanical clock.


>-Flynn MKA Jeff Evarts


Richard du Guesclin



From: corliss at hal.PHysics.wayne.EDU (David J. Corliss)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Hours

Date: 4 Apr 1994 12:58:40 -0400


It has been generally agreed that that the hours rung on bells varied by

season, at least until the development of the mechanical clock.


In case anyone was wondering, the first useful mechanical clock was built by

Huygens, who invented the pendulum movement in 1659.


So, while time is period, accurate measure in small continuous intervals is



Beorthwine of Grafham Wood,

Who is now practicing methods for the determination of latitude

without the use of a clock, as he was originally taught.



From: jeffs at math.bu.EDU (Jeff Suzuki)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Nurnberg eggs and watches

Date: 29 Aug 1994 11:39:16 -0400


>Eh? My Nuremburg Egg isn't period? Drat! And Ld. Dmitri went to such

>trouble to make it for me. It's a big, bulky, _cheap_ pocket-watch,

>with a Roman-numerals dial, an hour hand, a Laurel wreath painted on

>the dial, and my arms on the back of the case.  Serves as an

>unobtrusive Laurel gong. _I_ like it.


Nurnberg egg, invented ca. 1502 by Peter Heinlein.


Prompted Emperor Maximilian I to say, "If you want troubles, buy a



I like the watch; it sounds *neat* and someone ought to be able to

make a tidy sum making such watches for SCA consumption.  I'd buy one,

if they were available for a reasonable price (e.g., under $50 for a

basic model...I'm somewhat ignorant of watchmaking, but I'm guessing

you could take a basic watch, remove the minute hand, put on a new

face, then put it in a case for about $30 plus about an hours' time?).

A slight bit of OOPness, where it isn't visible, would be OK (like the

egg ought to keep better time than the originals did).


Any takers?


William the Alchymist



From: dickeney at access.digex.net (Dick Eney)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Does anyone know what the "Dragon Hand" on a clock does?

Date: 15 Sep 1994 19:37:31 -0400

Organization: Express Access Online Communications, Greenbelt, MD USA


Fred Blonder <fred at nasirc.hq.nasa.gov> wrote:

>This one's been bugging me for years.  I haven't found any references

>to this in any sources I've examined.

>Here's what I know on the subject: A lot of early mechanical clocks,

>and all of them that were consiered masterpieces, had a hand called the

>Dragon Hand.  It was always made of iron, and elaborately shaped into

>the form of a dragon.  It indicates the location of some astronomical

>point -- called the Dragon -- which is somehow related to the orbit of

>the moon.  Knowing the location of this point enabled you to predict

>eclipses, but unreliably.  If an eclipse was considered bad, an eclipse

>predicted by the dragon hand on your clock, but which did not occur,

>was cause for celebration.

>I've seen several old clocks, in museums, that have a dragon hand, but

>no one seems to know exactly what it does.  Presumably, when astronomy

>improved to the point where eclipses could be predicted reliably,

>people lost interest in the concept.

>So, do any of you have any ideas, or know of any references that have

>some real information?


The description makes it clear: the "Dragon Hand" indicated the position

of the lunar nodes.  The astrological name for these -- no, wait, let me

explain what they are.  You possibly know that none of the planets (in

the classical sense -- heavenly bodies that move) follow exactly the same

path along the ecliptic.  Nowadays we would say that their orbits all

have slightly different inclinations to "the" ecliptic, which is, for the

sake of a standard, the path of the sun.  Now, the Moon's orbit crosses

the ecliptic at two points -- one where it rises above and one where it

drops below the track of the Sun.  These were called the "Dragon's Head"

(crossing onto the upper part of the track) and "Dragon's tail" (crossing

onto the...oh, you guessed?).


Now, it will be obvious (it _vill_ be obvious -- ve haff vays of makink

you undershtand!) that an eclipse of the sun can only happen when the

Moon and Sun are on the same line, i.e., at one of these nodes.  (It can

happen at either node, but since they are exactly opposite one another

only one "Dragon hand" was needed.)  And that's why the "Dragon hand"

could be used as a warning of eclipses.  Since a total eclipse is visible

over a quite small portion of the Earth at best, it was easy enough to

have the "Dragon hand" indicate the possibility of an eclipse but for the

observer to be unable to see anything.


Actually, what it pointed out was the pathk of the unseen planet Rahu,

which causes eclipses by eating the sun out of malice, but let's not go

into theology -- some people get nervous about the religion thing.


|-----Mandarin 2/c Vuong Manh, C.P. (dickeney at access.digex.net)-----|

|----Opinions? All mine, and plenty more where they came from.-----|




Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: DDFr at Midway.UChicago.edu (David Friedman)

Subject: Re: Timepieces needed

Organization: University of Chicago Law School

Date: Fri, 2 Jun 1995 03:32:43 GMT


Quoting carey from a message in rec.org.sca

> As many of you may have read before, we are establishing a new

>enchanted ground camp at Pennsic to be called The Monastery.

> We'll be ringing and singing the canonical hours.

> To do that, we need to know what hour it is.  Especially at night.

> Has anyone constructed a water clock which they would be willing to

>loan us for Pennsic?  Also, a sundial would be useful, too.  (Low

>maintenance, you know.)


Some people in the Province of the Tree Girt Sea have made a waterclock,

based on a description in a period Islamic book on automata. You might try

getting in touch with their Seneschal. I think it is currently David Cook,

(312) 889-4635, but check a current Pale (I'm sure mine is somewhere around

... ).  



DDFr at Midway.UChicago.Edu



From: Gartner Michael <ges95kll at studserv.uni-leipzig.de>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: PW XXV Announcement: The Time has come

Date: Wed, 27 Mar 1996 15:01:51 +0100

Organization: Uni Leipzig


On 25 Mar 1996, Corun MacAnndra wrote:


> What we are planning is a recreation of the types of clocks that were

> found in Bavaria and Munich. You know the ones I mean. Every time the

> hour was struck some automata came out and jousted or pounded anvils

> or rang bells.


Great Idea: just wanted to comment that many of these clocks are still

there. Check out somebooks on Prague, they have a great one; inside

the Cathedral of Strassburg there is also a beautiful clock; and of

course you already mentioned the clock in Munich (Munich is IN Bavaria

:.) Also, most of these clocks do not have animation every hour, usually

only once or twice a day ( I seem to recall that the Prague clock has a

little movement every hour and then a big scene at 6, 9 and 12 pm.), in

case you dont get enough volunteers!


> Corun MacAnndra

> Baron Storvik


Ich wunche Ihnen viel Glueck und Spass,


Duncan Brock, O.L.

Michael H. Gartner

Universitaet Leipzig, Deutschland



From: Nils K Hammer <nh0g+ at andrew.cmu.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Telling time at Pennsic

Date: Tue, 10 Sep 1996 18:21:45 -0400

Organization: Computer Science Department, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA


Whoa, watches are period. Mary Queen of Scotts had a lovely

silver filigree one on a pendant. If you see Kate Hepburns' movie

she wears a _perfect_ copy, hey, maybe she is wearing the real

museum piece.


If you want an acceptable late period style watch, the things to

look for are :


-about the size of a plum

-no minute or second hand (but date and moon indicators are ok)

-probably no crystal, so you need a cover for it.


Duchess Sedalia has one in a wooden case.


Nils K. Hammer

nh0g at andrew.cmu.edu



From: jartificer at aol.com (Jartificer)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Sun Dials - How to?

Date: 16 May 1996 00:43:20 -0400


>With al this talk about time. Does any one know when the time calculation did >change from counting 12 equal parts for the day time and 12 equal parts for the

>night time as in  the romans time (the end of the sixth our day time would be

>the some as noon) to the modern time calculation of 2 times 12 equal parts

>through out the day starting at noon and and ending at midnight?


There are generally four ways of reckoning the hours.  The "Equal Hours"

you mention were usually used by the Greeks, Romans, and others for civil

time, up to around the Renaisance (more or less).  The hours we use are

"Planetary Hours," invented by the Babylonians (more or less) and were

used mostly for astronomy and astrology.  The counting of the "Planetary

Hours" was done in three ways.  "Babylonian Hours" started the day 30

minutes before local sunrise.  "Italian Hours" started the day 30 minutes

after local sunset. "Town Hours" ("hores communes") started the day at

local midnight.  There is a nice horizontal sundial in the History of

Science Museum in Fierenze, Italy, apparently from Holland, in fact, that

has all four systems, one at each corner.  The unequal hours gradually fell

from use by 1500 or so, although many astronomical instruments had a

conversion feature to convert equal to unequal hours.


Master John the Artificer

John Rose



Date: Sat, 22 Nov 1997 19:46:55 +0000

From: "Bookwyrm" <Bookwyrm at innocent.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: canonical hours


> I need some info on the 8 canonical hours of the medieval Catholic

> Church (hint: vespers, matins, lauds).  Does anyone know all 8, when

> they occur, what they meant and what happened during them?


from http://www.bibliomania.com/Reference/PhraseAndFable/data/209.html


Canonical Hours The times within which the sacred offices may be

performed. In the Roman Catholic Church they are seven- viz. matins,

prime, tierce, sext, nones, vespers, and compline. Prime, tierce,

sext, and nones are the first, third, sixth, and ninth hours of the

day, counting from six in the morning. Compline is a corruption of

completorium (that which completes the services of the day). The

reason why there are seven canonical hours is that David says, ``Seven

times a day do I praise thee'' (Psalm oxix. 164).


In England the phrase means the time of the day within which persons

can be legally married, i.e. from eight in the morning to three p m.



from http://www.chronique.com/Library/Glossaries/glossary-KCT/gloss_c.htm#=

canonical hours


Canonical Hours: At each of these times, the church bells would ring

eight times:



   3 AM---Lauds

   6 AM---Prime

   9 AM---Tierce


   3 PM---Nones

   6 PM---Vespers

   9 PM---Compline


http://www.knight.org/advent/cathen/07500b.htm is detailed,

but doesn't give the specific information that was requested.



As for what happened,from

http://www.knight.org/advent/cathen/02768b.htm :




The prayer of the Breviary is meant to be used daily; each day has its

own Office; in fact it would be correct to say that each hour of the

day has its own office, for, liturgically, the day is divided into

hours founded on the ancient Roman divisions of the day, of three

hours apiece -- Prime, Terce, Sext, None, and Vespers, and the night

Vigils. In conformity with this arrangement, the Office is portioned

out into the prayers of the night vigils, that is to say Matins and

Lauds. Matins itself is subdivided into three nocturns, to correspond

with the three watches of the night: nine o'clock at night, midnight,

and three o'clock in the morning. The office of Lauds was supposed to

be recited at dawn. The day offices corresponded more or less to the

following hours: Prime to 6 A.M., Terce to 9 A.M., Sext to midday,

None to 3 P.M., Vespers to 6 P.M. It is necessary to note the words

more or less, for these hours were regulated by the solar system, and

therefore the length of the periods varied with the season.


The office of Compline, which falls somewhat outside the above

division, and whose origin dates later than the general arrangement,

was recited at nightfall. Nor does this division of the hours go back

to the first Christian period. So far as can be ascertained, there was

no other public or official prayer in the earliest days, outside the

Eucharistic service, except the night watches, or vigils, which

consisted of the chanting of psalms and of readings from Holy

Scripture, the Law, and the Prophets, the Gospels and Epistles, and a

homily. The offices of Matins and Lauds thus represent, most probably,

these watches. It would seem that beyond this there was nothing but

private prayer; and at the dawn of Christianity the prayers were said

in the Temple, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles. The hours

equivalent to Terce, Sext, None, and Vespers were already known to the

Jews as times of prayer and were merely adopted by the Christians. At

first meant for private prayer, they became in time the hours of

public prayer, especially when the Church was enriched with ascetics,

virgins, and monks, by their vocation consecrated to prayer. From that

time, i.e. from the end of the third century, the monastic idea

exercised a preponderant influence on the arrangement and formation of

the canonical Office. It is possible to give a fairly exact account of

the establishment of these Offices in the second half of th fourth

century by means of a document of surpassing importance for the

history we are now considering: the "Peregrinatio ad Loca Sancta",

written about A. D. 388, by Etheria, a Spanish abbess. This narrative

is specifically a description of the Liturgy followed in the Church of

Jerusalem at that date.


The Offices of Prime and Compline were devised later, Prime at the end

of the fourth century, while Compline is usually attributed to St.

Benedict in the sixth century; but it must be acknowledged that,

although he may have given it its special form for the West, there

existed before his time a prayer for the close of the day

corresponding to it.


Scolace            bookwyrm at innocent.com              #SCA on DALnet



Date: Fri, 16 Oct 1998 02:48:43 EDT

From: <SigridPW at aol.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Matin & Deo gratis


Another quote re: Matins --


"Therefore, I said intentionally that morning is called 'matins' because at

that time the bells sound to wake the monks and nuns to sing matins and lauds

to God, and not because I meant that you, dear sister, or other married women,

should get up at that hour.  I said it because at the hour when you hear the

bell for matins sound, you should praise and pay your respects to our Lord

with some salutation or prayer before going back to sleep"  :o)


From "A Medieval Home Companion" (a translation of parts of  "Le Menagier de



Lord knows no one but monks and nuns and single women should be up at that

hour! :o)





From: bomlin at aol.com (Bomlin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Clocks in Period

Date: 28 Dec 1999 14:35:20 GMT


Through past discussions, I know that there are a few others out there

interested in clocks in the middle ages.  In those discussions, I mentioned

that I had produced a clock for an art-sci and that I would post some pictures.

I never actually got around  to scanning any pictures until recently.  I have

posted one pic at http://hometown.aol.com/bomlin/myhomepage  Just a warning,

the image is a little larger so it will take up to a minute on slower

connections. To give you an idea of the size of the clock, it is sitting on a

utility table and the gentleman behind the clock is around 6 foot tall.


I welcome any comments or discussions either here or to me at bomlin at aol.com


Lord Thomas Wright of Lancaster



From: bomlin at aol.com (Bomlin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Clocks in Period

Date: 29 Dec 1999 17:42:24 GMT


>It certainly looks interesting, and I hope the wood holds up where you

>substituted it for metal


For the gears, I used a high quality maple plywood and I have had no problems

with breakage or splitting.  One gear lost a little bit on veneer on some of

the teeth, but that was it.  I wanted to avoid using plywood but I don't think

I would have gotten enough strength.


>Do you plan on putting it in a case?


It is currently sitting in my garage collecting wood dust from other projects.

As it was a first effort, I am planning on doing it again.  At the time that I

started the project, I knew very little about woodworking and had very few

tools. My experience and resources have increased quite a bit and I would like

to make another wooden clock before I attempt the metal one (my metal working

skills are non-existant at this time).


>What did you use as a source--just pictures, or did you have a plan to work



During 1996 and 1997, I worked for a year and half in England.  My office

building was about a 5 minute walk from the British Museum.  I used some

pictures that I had taken, my own memory, and pictures of similar clocks such

as the Salisbury clock.  My true effort with the clock was to reproduce the

mechanical workings of the clock.


Thank you for the compliment.  To let you in on an inside secret, I was so

rushed to finish the clock that I was putting on stain less than an hour before

it was loaded to go to the art-sci.  If you look at the picture, you will see

one piece of the frame that is not stained(along the back)  Because it was so

rushed, I am looking forward to doing it again and taking my time and building

it just for the pleasure.  I have found that I really enjoy woodworking.


Lord Thomas Wright of Lancaster



From: cranstone at aol.com (Cranstone)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Clocks in Period

Date: 31 Dec 1999 13:52:51 GMT


Lovely work!  Did you do this for art/sci here in Trimaris?  Your clock looks

familiar to me.  Also there is a very interesting article on timepieces in the

Dec, 1999 issue of Smithsonian Magazine.


Elizabeth of Cranstone



Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000 00:58:14 EST

From: <Talmoor at aol.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: water clocks


SNSpies at aol.com writes:

<< I am looking for information on what a Roman water clock would have looked

like and how it worked.  Any information, clues, hints, suggestions, etc.

would be appreciated.  

Ingvild >>


Time life books put out a book call "What life was like, at the dawn of



On pages 64 and 65 they mention the use of water clock to keep things moving.

The picture shows a pot with sides that slope out like an inverted cone and a

small hole at the base. There are two handles on it near the top. Thenotation

says each one held about 6 minutes worth of water.


Time life books put out another book called "what life was like, when rome

ruled the world"


Page 29 discusses a few diffrent sun dials





Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000 07:46:36 -0000

From: "Melanie Wilson" <MelanieWilson at bigfoot.com>

To: "LIST Sca Arts" <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: water clock


History of Technology 1 shows an egyptian illstration





Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000 12:26:22 -0400

From: rmhowe <MMagnusM at Bellsouth.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu,

       "Red Dog (Instrument Maker)" <reddog at net.bluemoon.net>

Subject: Re: Hourglass history ...please help


Suggest you contact Red Dog. He makes intruments apparently.

"Red Dog (Instrument Maker)" <reddog at net.bluemoon.net>


Btw. Some of the nicest hourglass depictions are in Durer's prints -

see the complete Woodcuts of Albrecht Durer, Dover.





From: "Mandy" <martin.mandy at ns.sympatico.ca>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Period Horology

Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 18:24:05 GMT


I came across this a while back and may or may not find this useful...... I

don't personally know this man but on this site is a little info on his book



Griet (--who likes to make notes on everything she comes across--)



From: "Martin Catt" <lodovico at airmail.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Period Horology

Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 03:46:15 -0600


"Nils K Hammer" <nh0g+ at andrew.cmu.edu> wrote:

> So, these people who actually _make_ the clocks, where to they get data  from?


You sorta scrounge for it over a period of several years until you've

acquired enough data to make a stab at it. I've been fortunate enough to

find several line drawings of a stackfreed watch, complete with wheel tooth

counts, a complete description of the train, all laid out in a nice, neat,

linear fashion. Talk about a LUCKY find!!!


One also spends a great deal of time studying photos in books, trying to

discerne faint details. Clock collecting is such a broad field that several

guides for identifying clocks according to period and maker exist, based on

what features and assembly methods are present (probably the only good thing

that came out of period guilds was standardization -- or mediocrity -- of

practices), so if you're doing a piece from such and such period, then it is

reasonable to assume that these features exist, even if you can't see them.

Please note -- I don't want to read any assinine replies about "assume":

last I checked, it's a perfectly valid word, used frequently in proving

mathematical theorems. Bore me with something witty.


Certain major pieces, like Jacob Zech's clock, have been photographed and

published in many sources, so it's almost like being able to walk around it

and look at the mechanism from many angles.


However, my luck is such that I get captivated by that odd item where only

one fuzzy photo exists....


Such is love. Sigh.






From: David Razler <david.razler at worldnet.att.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Period Horology

Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2000 02:34:05 GMT


On Mon, 11 Dec 2000 18:24:05 GMT, "Mandy" <martin.mandy at ns.sympatico.ca> wrote:

> I came across this a while back and may or may not find this useful...... I

>don't personally know this man but on this site is a little info on his book


> Griet (--who likes to make notes on everything she comes across--)


Quiet Henry (who also has a book out on a period hand-carried air-pump

organ) is a good guy, and his book is quite good though it frightened

me off from actually undertaking the project (not being an ace

woodworker). After seeing the clock at Pennsic, I bought the book

(couldn't afford the finished piece) for my (very small) collection of

books on period timekeeping.


                        Aleksandr the Traveller

(the guy who walks Pennsic wearing an astrolabe or two, pair of

shepherd's dials, ring dials, a Canonical hours dial and a neat

pocket watch that's almost period)



From: bronwynmgn at aol.comnospam (Bronwynmgn)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Date: 16 Dec 2000 14:26:55 GMT


"Raymond C. Parks" <rcparks at rt66.com> writes:

>This sounded very interesting, so I did a web-search under horology.

>I found several sites, including http://www.horology.com and

>http://www.clockstop.com.  Whether you have checked those out or not, I

>can see that finding detailed information about period clocks is



There is a Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania,

which my husband visited as part of one of his college courses.  He said that,

as he recalls, they have both period timepieces and period manuscripts dealing

with them.  I do not know if they have a website, but the other contact

information is:

Watch and Clock Museum

514 Poplar Street

Columbia, PA 17512



Hopefully this will be helpful.


Brangwayna Morgan



From: "Klatu" <itsurnkl at xcelco.on.ca>

From: dj_nme <dj_nme at geocities.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Instruct 15th Century Clock

Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2000 02:58:35 +1100

Organization: Ex Inferus


unfortunately, this did not work.

It looks like part of the url is missing off the end.


Klatu wrote:

> Here goes! I've never created one of these before so hopefully this works.

> http://content.communities.msn.ca/isapi/fetch.dll?action=get_album&;ID_Commun


> Gerrard



Date: Tue, 03 Apr 2001 00:41:55 +0200

From: tgl at mailer.uni-marburg.de

Subject: Re: SC - clockwork spit turner, sort of (was: chicken on a string)


<< I have also considered the construction of a period clockwork weight

driven spit turner. >> (Daniel Phelps)


In one of Scappi's (1570) tavole there is something like a clockwork

construction for a spit turner. See the image at:




The text to the image: "Molinello con tre spedi che si uolta dasse per

forza de ruotte con il tempo afoggia di orologio come nella presente

figura si dimostra". The same picture is later to be found in the

'Trinciante' of Cervio. And there seems also to be mention of such a

machine in Rabelais' 'Gargantua'.


If you are looking for a early handbook of clockwork engineering, try:


J.H. Leopold: The Almanus Manuscript (Staats- und Stadtbibliothek

Augsburg, Codex in 2∞ No. 209, Rome circa 1475-circa 1485). London 1971.


A beautiful book including a facsimile of the manuscript with its

drawings, the Latin text, an English translation, an English

introduction and an English commentary/technical interpretation of the

text. There are weight-driven clocks and spring-driven clocks ...





From: Lorraine Gehring <lorrainegehring at KC.SUREWEST.NET>

Date: January 16, 2010 1:21:33 PM CST

To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu

Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] Dawn and cocks


<<< Now, does anyone know the distinctions among first light, sun rise, and dawn? Are the last two the same?


Also wanting to know, when is [first?] cock crow?

Is it the same as one of the above?


Herr Thomas von Holthausen

Barony of Three Rivers, Calontir >>>


Cock's Crow (gallicantus) was before there was light in the sky, before the "first flush of dawn."


First flush of dawn (Aurora) is "first light."


Dawn is when the sky begins to get light but before the sun can be seen. This was often called daybreak.


Sunrise was when the sun begins to rise. The day officially began when the sun was half above and half below the horizon.


Matins was said at or after midnight, except during the summer, when the very short nights made that impracticable. Then it was generally said while the sky was still dark but before the first flush of dawn (in other words, at cock's crow.)


Lauds was generally said at daybreak, but during the summer often was said right after Matins. (This was not uncommon, to slide the time the "hours" were recited earlier or later.)


Matins was said during the first hour of the day (prime), in other words, sometime in the hour after the sun was half above and half below the horizon. Again, regional variations occurred.


So first light and dawn might be considered the same, but not sun rise.





From: john heitman <gottskrieger at GMAIL.COM>

Date: January 16, 2010 10:56:14 AM CST

To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu

Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] Dawn and cocks


Lets understand that there is no specific moment in time that can be

identified, aka first light is at 5:23 AM on the Spring Solstice in

Vienna. Period time doesn't work like that. The only time of day that

is known EXACTLY is noon. The rest are roughly 15 minute intervals (in

general). And even noon moves around a little bit. Noon is only

defined as being the moment the sun is at its highest point. How far

left or right of center changes with the season.


to your questions, per my reading on sundials/nocturnals/astrolabes.......


First light is when you can actually see a band of light at the

horizon. The sky immediately above *you* is still dark, and certain

stars can still be seen.  But you can tell the difference between

whether it is a clear sky and a cloudy one at the horizon.  This is

also called a "false dawn".  The sky is still dark, but the air around

you carries a little more light than before


Sunrise is the roughly five minute period when the top of the sun

first breaks the horizon (and the notorious "green flash" occurs)

until it is either a half circle or a full circle. (depends on who you

ask. I prefer the half circle myself.)


Dawn runs the gamut from when the sky first starts getting light until

the entire sky is lit. The entire sky is lit about the same time the

sun is a half circle. (which is why I prefer the half sun definition

of sunrise.)


Dawn ends when a shadow is cast upon the sundial. When you can no

longer tell time by the stars, sunrise is over, and you have to switch



And the cock crows whenever he wakes up.  It depends on the breed, and

age of the bird.  Some of the cantankerous old bastards will wait

until 4 PM if they feel like it. People just used that as a time of

day because EVERYone can hear it for quite a ways out.  And it WILL

wake you up.





From: "Miklos.Farma" <miklos.farma at EARTHLINK.NET>

Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] clock escapements

Date: August 1, 2013 1:41:50 AM CDT

To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu


You want to read this book:

Shaping the Day: A History of Timekeeping in England and Wales 1300-1800, by Paul Glennie and Nigel Thrift




It has a rather large section on the verge and foiliot designs, and a number of very good sources.




On 8/1/2013 12:58 AM, Jerry Harder wrote:

<<< I have been doing some research on clock escapements.  Turns out pendulum escapements aren't period by about 65 years.  Verge and foliot with a crown wheel where the pallets engage with opposite sides of the crown wheel are. There are some verge and foiliot escapement designs which have 2 gears with pins that replace the crown wheel and the pallets both engage the top of these two pin gears.  I am looking to prove or disprove weather this type is also period.  Any help would be appreciated.  A simple search on firefox gives a great overview on wickipedia, and  www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HgAtCn3VUU shows the two pin-wheeled type.‎ >>>



From: john heitman <gottskrieger at GMAIL.COM>

Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] clock escapements

Date: August 1, 2013 2:58:38 AM CDT

To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu


Not only is that type period, it is recognized as frontrunner for the first truly mechanical only movement.


The man who was to be come Pope Sylvester II had what is acknowledged as the first completely mechanical clock in 996 CE, and it supposedly had this radial pin design.  But that is all buried in my notes as to the quote source.


However, to give you the reference you are desperately seeking:


1327 CE - Richard of Wallingford ("Tractus Horologii Astonomici") wrote on a tower clock he built for the Abbey St. Albans that it had a "strobe escapement", two wheels on the same axle with alternating radial teeth/ verge suspended BETWEEN them, with a short cross piece oscillating as the wheels rotated past. (no currently known period examples exist, primarily because they lost as much as several hours a day, and were quickly changed over in the 1600s to the vertical pendulum because those lose only minutes a day.


Part of the problem is that a) the first treatise on clock making wasn't until 1364 when the son of a clockmaker expounded upon his father's work, and b) as stated above, they were all changed over to the vertical pendulum in the 1600s.


So,Good Master, since I seem to have gotten you hooked,  your other research terms should include "escapements" and, oddly, "engines".


The best site I found, however, was .www.my-time-machines.net/speech_final_web.pdf. Full out presentation on the subject. I can give you more if you like, but that is the mother lode.





From: "<Franz Johann Gottskrieger>" <gottskrieger at GMAIL.COM>

Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] clock escapements

Date: August 1, 2013 10:54:30 AM CDT

To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu


Oh, and for the record, the non radial pin design has the distinct disadvantage of requiring an ODD number of gear teeth in the crown to function. That was their hold up as well. How do you use a compass to construct an odd number of evenly spaced teeth around the circumference of a circle?  It's not just the period manufacturing tools that restrict, but the period design tools as well.




<the end>

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