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  • buildingMajestic Time:
    A Collection of the Works of Thomas Tompion, Master Horologist
     
    On display at The National Watch Clock MuseumNovember 21, 2013 - January 18, 2014

    Hours: 10 AM - 4 PM, Tuesday - Saturday
     
    514 Poplar Street                      Googlemaps           Mapquest
    Columbia, PA 17512
    Phone: 717-684-8261 (Option 3)        
  • Thomas Tompion sold over 700 clocks and 5,000 watches beginning in the early 1670s until his death in 1713. His relentless pursuit of quality, both artistic and mechanical, is evident in the beauty and splendor of the casework and the precision and ingenuity of the mechanisms. This magnificent exhibit is perhaps the largest public display of his work ever assembled. Two watches, 14 clocks, and two sundials are showcased.
  • Both watches are mechanically complex and magnificently cased. The earliest (ca. 1681, above left) has an alarm and strikes the hours. The other (ca. 1700, above right) is a repeater that can indicate the nearest quarter hour on a pair of gongs hidden within the case.
  • The sundials remind us that, regardless of the aesthetic or mechanical perfection of his work, Tompion was just as concerned with timekeeping and the pursuit of accuracy. The larger, of heavy cast bronze (above left), was designed to keep accurate time by adjusting for the difference in latitude between summer and winter estates. The other, an engraved bronze sheet dial (above right), shows time to the minute.
  • There are also two turret, or tower, clock movements on display. These two are the only known survivors from the few he made. Along with all the other clocks in the exhibit they are running; the sound and motion bring the exhibit to life.
  • A charming pair of single-handed lantern clocks with alarms, a style common long before Tompion’s birth, span the years of his working life. The largest, circa 1680 (above left), although outdated, served the needs of its owner due, in part, to its mechanical integrity. The latter, circa 1708 (above right), was probably used as a traveling alarm judging from its small size.
  • A pair of ebonized tall clocks present an interesting contrast. The oldest (above left) runs only one day between windings and, like the lantern clocks, was serviceable but technically obsolete for its time. The other tall clock, made very late in his life (ca. 1709, above center) is a precision regulator showing both sidereal (star) time and mean (sun) time and is displayed here (above right) with its mechanism mounted out of the case for viewing.
  • Two burl walnut tall case clocks from about 1700, although similar in appearance, house quite different mechanisms. The tallest (above left) has quarter-hour striking and runs for a week between windings. The second (above right) strikes only the hour but runs for a month.
  • A duo of surprisingly small ebony table clocks, the smallest (above left) standing under 10 inches, exemplify the standard designs Tompion offered for sale. Both strike the hours, announce the nearest quarter-hour on demand, and can be silenced at night.
  • A pair of larger ebony table clocks resonate with the timeless beauty of Tompion’s production. An original “shipping box” is also displayed (above left), an astonishing survivor of 300 years. The “Sussex Tompion,” perfect of form and proportion (above right), is still copied today.
  • Of the two remaining clocks, the “Olivewood Tompion” (above left) may be the earliest surviving example of his work. An imposing table clock, it shows intriguing influences of earlier London makers. The “Selby-Lowndes” (above right) is Tompion at the pinnacle of his craft... a combination of mechanical and artistic perfection.