BOOKREVIEW: Sagvold, Legged Alarm Clocks

Discussion in 'Horological Books' started by Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, Mar 4, 2004.

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  1. Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki Registered User
    NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Life Member Donor

    Aug 25, 2000
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    48
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    Horological Bibliographer -
    Sussex New Jersey USA
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    Denis Sagvold; Legged Alarm Clocks, with Price Guide
    a Schiffer Book for Collectors; published 2004 by Schiffer Publishing, Atglen PA. www.schifferbooks.com/antiques/watchesandclocks/0764319973.html, $19.95 (list price); ISBN 0 7643 1997 3; 192 pages; 230x150mm, paperback.

    I was rather excited when I heard about this new book: Alarm clocks are an underrepresented topic in the horological literature, particularly in the English language. (To me the only serious monograph on the subject for a long time has been the 1991 German language “Wecker” by Mühe/Kahlert/Techen, ISBN 3-7667-1000-1, which unfortunately was never translated into English). Alarm clocks are a significant and huge part of our horological heritage, and it is quite possible that more alarm clocks were produced between 1880 and 1930 globally than all other types of clocks combined. This book deals exclusively with “legged alarms”, i.e. the classic, round “tin can” alarm, with stubby legs to prevent it from rolling away. This style dominated the market well into the 1930s.

    Denis Sagvold deserves credit for compiling an unprecedented mountain of data and images on the subject, unmatched in any other available sources. Organized alphabetically by Manufacturer (and further indexed by model name) around 400 alarm clocks are listed and illustrated, each with a suggested price for a specimen in fine condition. I am sure this book fills an important market niche as a price guide (even if I personally find price guides that give a single price rather than a price range inherently problematical).

    However any serious student of horology, and particularly anybody wanting to learn something about the fascinating subject of alarm clocks is likely to be somewhat disappointed. I was: I felt that the title “Legged Alarm Clocks, with Price Guide” is a misnomer. It would have been more correct to call the book “Legged Alarm Clocks, a Price Guide”, because that is really all it is. There is virtually no text in the book, except the image captions, which for the most part are limited to model name, dimensions, and color descriptions (the images are black and white). Only occasionally a date is given (mostly taken from patent dates stamped onto some of the clock). I fully realize how much work it would have been to research the beginning and end of the production runs or marketing campaign by studying the manufacturers or retailers catalogs and advertisements, but without such data the book is not even useful for determining the design history and design development of the US made legged alarm clock (There are to few foreign made clocks pictured to allow any insights into global issues).

    The author deliberately made no attempt at analysis of the more technical aspects of the subject, like e.g. which movements are in which clocks, or the history of alarm clock technology. The equally fascinating subject of the socio-economic forces that drove the alarm clock boom (and the huge impact that widespread alarm clock availability and affordability had of life- and work-habits of that time) are also beyond the scope of this book.

    If you want or need a source of rough price points of historic, US made, legged alarm clocks this book clearly is a must buy. But if you are looking for a book to learn anything other than price (or the manufacturer of a given model name) you must wait some more. The subject of alarm clocks is potentially rich and broad, and I certainly hope that this author (or somebody else) will soon produce a historical, technical and analytical companion piece to complement this book.

    Fortunat F. Mueller-Maerki (Sussex NJ)

    March 4, 2004

    Fortunat F. Mueller-Maerki, pob 386, Sussex NJ 07461

    NAWCC Life # 174
    Chair, NWCM Library and Research Center Committee


    You can reach me at horology@horology.com
     
  2. Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki Registered User
    NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Life Member Donor

    Aug 25, 2000
    1,484
    47
    48
    Male
    Horological Bibliographer -
    Sussex New Jersey USA
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Bookreview, Sagvold, Legged Alarm Clocks

    Denis Sagvold; Legged Alarm Clocks, with Price Guide
    a Schiffer Book for Collectors; published 2004 by Schiffer Publishing, Atglen PA. www.schifferbooks.com/antiques/watchesandclocks/0764319973.html, $19.95 (list price); ISBN 0 7643 1997 3; 192 pages; 230x150mm, paperback.

    I was rather excited when I heard about this new book: Alarm clocks are an underrepresented topic in the horological literature, particularly in the English language. (To me the only serious monograph on the subject for a long time has been the 1991 German language “Wecker” by Mühe/Kahlert/Techen, ISBN 3-7667-1000-1, which unfortunately was never translated into English). Alarm clocks are a significant and huge part of our horological heritage, and it is quite possible that more alarm clocks were produced between 1880 and 1930 globally than all other types of clocks combined. This book deals exclusively with “legged alarms”, i.e. the classic, round “tin can” alarm, with stubby legs to prevent it from rolling away. This style dominated the market well into the 1930s.

    Denis Sagvold deserves credit for compiling an unprecedented mountain of data and images on the subject, unmatched in any other available sources. Organized alphabetically by Manufacturer (and further indexed by model name) around 400 alarm clocks are listed and illustrated, each with a suggested price for a specimen in fine condition. I am sure this book fills an important market niche as a price guide (even if I personally find price guides that give a single price rather than a price range inherently problematical).

    However any serious student of horology, and particularly anybody wanting to learn something about the fascinating subject of alarm clocks is likely to be somewhat disappointed. I was: I felt that the title “Legged Alarm Clocks, with Price Guide” is a misnomer. It would have been more correct to call the book “Legged Alarm Clocks, a Price Guide”, because that is really all it is. There is virtually no text in the book, except the image captions, which for the most part are limited to model name, dimensions, and color descriptions (the images are black and white). Only occasionally a date is given (mostly taken from patent dates stamped onto some of the clock). I fully realize how much work it would have been to research the beginning and end of the production runs or marketing campaign by studying the manufacturers or retailers catalogs and advertisements, but without such data the book is not even useful for determining the design history and design development of the US made legged alarm clock (There are to few foreign made clocks pictured to allow any insights into global issues).

    The author deliberately made no attempt at analysis of the more technical aspects of the subject, like e.g. which movements are in which clocks, or the history of alarm clock technology. The equally fascinating subject of the socio-economic forces that drove the alarm clock boom (and the huge impact that widespread alarm clock availability and affordability had of life- and work-habits of that time) are also beyond the scope of this book.

    If you want or need a source of rough price points of historic, US made, legged alarm clocks this book clearly is a must buy. But if you are looking for a book to learn anything other than price (or the manufacturer of a given model name) you must wait some more. The subject of alarm clocks is potentially rich and broad, and I certainly hope that this author (or somebody else) will soon produce a historical, technical and analytical companion piece to complement this book.

    Fortunat F. Mueller-Maerki (Sussex NJ)

    March 4, 2004

    Fortunat F. Mueller-Maerki, pob 386, Sussex NJ 07461

    NAWCC Life # 174
    Chair, NWCM Library and Research Center Committee


    You can reach me at horology@horology.com
     

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