This publish is a part of a sequence, Studying Time at HSNY, written by HSNY’s librarian, Miranda Marraccini.
Whether or not you are touring this summer season or choosing a staycation, the Horological Society of New York (HSNY) has one thing horological to fulfill your globetrotting impulses.
In the event you’re in New York Metropolis, come by to journey the world by means of our postcard assortment. Most of you’re aware of our books–a lot of which I’ve highlighted in previous posts within the « Studying Time at HSNY » sequence. However we even have a complete archive of about 1,200 postcards from horological museums and websites everywhere in the world–all courtesy of our beneficiant benefactor, Fortunat Mueller-Maerki!
Mueller-Maerki, who was raised in Switzerland and moved to the U.S. as an grownup, collected these postcards one after the other on particular person journeys and as a pacesetter of horological research excursions over a number of a long time. Many of the postcards come from the horological hotbeds you’d anticipate: Switzerland, England, France, Germany and America. However there are additionally some shocking locales together with Argentina and the Czech Republic.
Apparently, Mueller-Maerki additionally amassed classic postcards that folks had already addressed and despatched. One in all my favorites exhibits presumably essentially the most well-known clock on the earth, London’s Big Ben (see pictures 1-2). It is not dated, however the one-penny stamp that the postcard author used dates it from the reign of King Edward VII (1902-1913). A woman named Edith despatched this postcard to her pal Blanche in Denver, Colorado (Wilfred Jurgens within the handle is the pal’s husband’s title).
You would possibly discover that the caption reads « LONDON – The Homes of Parliament. – The Clock Tower. » Massive Ben was by no means formally referred to as Massive Ben, and actually that nickname first referred to the bell contained in the tower, slightly than the clock. The tower itself was merely often called « the Clock Tower. » Edith does not point out any of those details in her be aware. She’s preoccupied with the practicalities of journey (« we sail tomorrow »), well being (« we’re very effectively »), and her family and friends again residence (« Marjorie sends a kiss to Mary »). She indicators the postcard « Lovingly, Edith. » In Edith’s story, the well-known clock is only a pretext for her to ship her love. I prefer to think about her coming again to her pal, a married lady, and telling her breathlessly concerning the sights and sounds of her abroad journey. Right here at HSNY’s Jost Bürgi Research Library we have now a complete part of previous and trendy books devoted to Massive Ben, so if you’d like extra data than Edith supplies, please cease by.
In 1952, a distinct lady despatched a postcard that includes an English clock tower to her married pal in Denver, this time from Buenos Aires (pictures 3-4). This postcard is in our assortment as a result of it options the Torre Monumental, one other well-known clocktower, on the time often called Torre de los Ingleses (« Tower of the English. ») British residents dwelling in Buenos Aires funded the development of the tower, employed a British architect, and imported engineers and development supplies to construct it.
Whereas public clocks are a frequent topic of postcards, numerous our playing cards present watch factories. Picture 5 exhibits either side of a postcard from the German city of Schwenningen, « the biggest clock metropolis on the earth, » in accordance with its caption. The entrance exhibits the Kienzle factory within the city, which, amongst different issues, manufactured timing gadgets for Germany and the Axis powers throughout World Conflict II.
In line with the postmark, somebody despatched this on April 14, 1958. Though the manufacturing unit depicted is massive, it nonetheless appears like a reasonably conventional constructing, with its pitched roof and curved eyebrow dormers.
Our American postcards, in distinction, exhibit the options of the mega-factories of America: Elgin (picture 6), Hamilton (picture 7) and Waltham (picture 8). The Elgin and Waltham pictures are from the flip of the twentieth century, whereas the Hamilton image dates from round 1940. Examine the size of the constructing above in Germany’s « clock metropolis » in 1958 with the behemoth city-sized factories in America, a few of which have been constructed 50 years earlier.
Originally of the twentieth century, American watch manufacturing was booming, because of a sequence of developments in standardization and mechanization, the « American System« . Under the picture of the Waltham manufacturing unit in Massachusetts, the postcard’s sender has written « Does this look pure? » which might be a personal joke, however may be an ironic comment about how industrialization had modified the realm. Though there are nonetheless some bushes, and the Waltham constructing is a little more residential trying, it isn’t pure in any respect. It is the peak of technological innovation for the time.
Picture 9 incorporates a decidedly groovier watch constructing, the Elgin pavilion on the New York World’s Truthful in 1939. On the reverse of the cardboard, there’s barely sufficient room for a message from the sender, given all of the promoting copy. In line with this card, the Elgin Watch Constructing hosted « a totally outfitted astronomical observatory and watch museum…an animated puppet type present » and a service the place « watches of holiday makers are rated for accuracy, with out cost. » There’s even a pre-printed « handwritten » message, in cursive, that reads, « P.S. I’ve simply seen how time is taken from the celebs. It is thrilling. Take my recommendation and make the Elgin Watch Constructing the start line for all of your World’s Truthful sightseeing. It is so conveniently situated. » That is a convincing pitch!
Even with all this promotional textual content, the sender of this postcard managed to cram in a message to his « sweetie » that mentions visiting the Empire State Constructing, seeing the ship the Queen Mary, going to the most popular musical revue on Broadway, « Hellzapoppin« , and visiting a musical swimming present on the World’s Truthful, « Billy Rose’s Aquacade » (picture 10). An exhausting slate of occasions for one go to to New York! The author, named Farley, takes a maximalist method to the house he is allotted, not like Edith, who most popular to save lots of her ideas on Massive Ben to narrate in particular person.
Hopefully these postcards are a reminder to doc your journeys, even the mundane ones, because you by no means know who’s going to be studying about them within the far-off future at some library on Mars. For now, from all of us at HSNY, we hope you could have an incredible summer season filled with horology, rest, and journey!