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History of the James Arthur Lecture Series

James Arthur was born February 26, 1842, of Scottish parents at Crosscandley, Ireland. While he was still a child the family moved to Glasgow where he attended the technical school and trained in mechanics, metal and woodwork. At this early age he took an interest in horology and made sundials and started restoring and collecting clocks and watches. In November 1871 he came to the USA. His wife and the three older children followed in 1872. James Arthur was a skilled mechanic with knowledge of machinery and fine construction. Fourteen years after coming to the USA he established the Arthur Machine Works at 188-190 Front Street, New York, for the manufacture and repair of machinery in general and in particular for the construction of models for inventors. The business proved lucrative, as he was able to make a world tour in 1897, and added many interesting pieces to his collection throughout his lifetime. He continued working until he retired in 1912. He died at Winsted, Connecticut, April 27, 1930.

On December 1, 1925, he donated his horological collection together with a substantial endowment to New York University, specifying that part of the endowment should fund an annual lecture. Daniel W. Hering, Professor Emeritus of Physics, was appointed Curator. The original collection of 1,336 items was enlarged, principally by donation, so that by 1932 it amounted to 1,464 items made up of 224 clocks, 1,190 watches, and 50 books. Of particular interest are the original tallcase clocks he designed and made. His notebook No. 1 contains the original designs of 13 tallcase clocks built in his shop by himself or his workmen.

New York University never completed the reassembly and display of the items and, in 1964, they moved from University Heights to the present location in Greenwich Village. At that time they transferred most of the collection to the Smithsonian Institution. In 1982 New York University decided to dispose of the Arthur Collection, dividing the items between The Smithsonian Institution, the Time Museum at Rockford, and the NAWCC Museum at Columbia, Pennsylvania.

Ward Francillon was instrumental in making the James Arthur Lecture the keynote lecture of the Annual NAWCC Seminar, continuing that part of Arthur's original legacy which NYU had fulfilled only intermittently. The first NAWCC James Arthur Lecture was at the 1984 Seminar in Hartford, Conn. with Dana Blackwell as the speaker. Only the most eminent horologists are invited to give this lecture.

James Arthur Lecture Series
Time and Its Mysteries: Sponsored by New York University 1932-1984

1932 Time
Presenter: Robert Andrews Millikan

1933 Time and Change in History
Presenter: John Campbell Merriam

1934 On the Life-time of a Galaxy
Presenter: Harlow Shapley

1935 The Beginnings of Time Measurement
and the Origins of Our Calendar
Presenter: James Henry Breasted

1936 The Time Concept and Time Sense
Among Cultured and Uncultured Peoples
Presenter: Daniel Webster Hering

1937 What is Time?
Presenter: William Francis Gray Swann

1938 Time and Individuality
Presenter: John Dewey

1939 Time and the Growth of Physics
Presenter: Arthur H. Compton

1940 The Astronomical Scale
Presenter: Henry Norris Russell

1941 The Geologic Records of Time
Presenter: Adolph Knopf

1946 Time and Historical Perspective
Presenter: James T. Shotwell

Time and Its Mysteries

1949 Developments in Portable Timepieces
Presenter: George P. Luckey

1951 The Early American Clock Making Industry
Presenter: Brooks Palmer

1953 From Hours to Microseconds:
Three Centuries of Timekeeping Progress
Presenter: Arthur L. Rawlings

1969 The Hypothesis of Environmental Timing of the Clock
Presenter: Frank A. Brown, Jr.
The Cellular-Biochemical Clock Hypothesis
Presenter: J. Woodland Hastings

1972 Physics at the Origin of Time
Presenter: R. Omnés and Steven Frautschi

1975 Time and the Atom:
Precise Measurement of Time with Atomic Clocks
Molecular Beam Spectroscopy with Molecules, Atoms
and Neutrons
Presenter: Norman F. Ramsey

1978 Time Without End: Physics and Biology in an Open Universe
Presenter: Freeman J. Dyson

1980 Reality, Illusion and Time
Time and Light
Beyond the End of Time
Presenter: John Archibald Wheeler

1984 Symmetry Principles in Physics
Time as a Dynamical Variable
Discrete Theory of General Relativity
Presenter: Tsung Dao Lee

NAWCC Sponsored James Arthur Series Lecture

1984 Horology and the Whole Man
Presenter: Dana J. Blackwell

1985 Paradigms and Clockmaking
Presenter: Douglas H. Shaffer

1986 Mark Leavenworth, Clockmaker
Presenter: Snowden Taylor

1987 The Time of Our Lives
Presenter: David Landes

1988 The Importance of Horology in Our Lives
Presenter: Seth Atwood

1989 The History of British Public Timekeeping
Presenter: Beresford Hutchinson

1990 The History of the Watch
Presenter: Henry B. Fried

1991 Horologists Oiled the Industrial Revolution
Presenter: Theodore R. Crom

1992 Uses of the Atomic Clock
Presenter: Norman F. Ramsey

1993 The Mechanical Watch in the Twenty-first Century: The Renaissance of the Mechanic
Presenter: George Daniels

1994 Horological Ephemera, Its Variety, Availability, and Importance
Presenter: David Penney

1995 Clockmaking or Timekeeping
Presenter: Douglas H. Shaffer

1996 Running a Railroad on Time
Presenter: Dr. Ian Bartky

1997 Bristol's Clock Museum in the Early Years - Who and What Made It Tick
Presenter: Bartlett Barnes

1998 Modern Time, Old South
Presenter: Mark M. Smith

1999 Horological Gods and Heroes
Presenter: Chris H. Bailey

2000 The Early Collectors
Presenter: David Thompson

2001 American Wristwatches
Presenter: Bruce Shawkey

2002 Watches and Clocks: The Road to Quality Mass Production
Presenter: David K. Landes

2003 The Long Now
Presenter: Alexander Rose

2004 Horology in Science and Science in Horology
Presenter: Johnathan Betts

2005 The Inventive Mind
Presenter: Dr. David Collard

2006 The American Influence on Swiss Watchmaking
Presenter: Antoine Simonin

2007 The Beginning of Mass Production: Eli Terry and the Porter Contract
Presenter: Donald Hoke

2008
Presenter: Curtis Mann

 

 

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