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Discussion in 'Horological Books' started by Jon Hanson, Mar 20, 2007.
What is your favorite horological book?
(a fun topic)
PS Mine is "It's About Time."
Boy this is tough. Your choice is a great one. I am going with "Watchmaking"
John Nagle http://www.geocities.com/mrb2132000/mypage
John, not bad!
Touhrbillon, über meine Passion by Steffen Pahlow
I don't read a word of German but I still think it is one of the best horological books ever written.
How about Fiction?
A Case of Curiosities - Allen Kurzweil
John Nagle http://www.geocities.com/mrb2132000/mypage
All three books cited so far "It's about time", "Watchmaking" and "Tuhrbillion" are fantastic horological books.
But the question as posed -at least for me- is nearly impossible to answer. For one thing I am a "clock-person" even if I have read much of the watch literature.
What determines the "favorite"? Is it the one that you open most often, for me that would probably be
G. Albert Berner
Title: Dictionaire Professionelle illustré de l'horlogerie I+II
Other Keywords: foreign languagae
whose electronic edition sits on my computers' desktop and which gets consulted constantly either to define a technical term or translate a foreign language term.
If the question is about the most "important" horological book ever written, combining insights, nice presentation and usefull content, my vote would go to
Claudius Saunier, Julien Tripplin, Edward Rigg(Translator)
Title: Treatsie on Modern Horology in Theory and Practice
Keywords: historic advanced
Edition: 1887, 2nd English Edition
Page or pages: 844
especially if you get an original edition with its 22 hand colored fold-out copper plates
If the question is what horological book did enjoy most reading recently this would be
Title: Time restored
SubTitle: The Harrison Timekeepers and R.T. Gould, the man who knew (almost) everything
Other Keywords: Harrison Gould
Edition: 2006, 1st edition
Page or pages: 464
which presents a compelling biographical narrative of one of the more colorful horologocal characters (Commander Gould) whose subjects was one of the greatest horologist ever alive (Harrison).
But if I simple answer the question of which book I enjoy browsing in the most makes the question on the favorite horological book mainly a function of my favorite type of timekeepers , which happen to be precision penduum clocks, on which very little has been published. Untill a few years ago there really was NO book in ENglish, so it was
Title: Präzisionspendeluhren: von Graham bis Riefler
Keywords: pendulum precision advanced
Other Keywords: Graham Strasser Rhode Riefler
Edition: 1978, 1st edition
Page or pages: 254
but that has changed and now there is an ENglish language trilogy (really ONE book in three volumes, although for marketing reasons the publisher doesn't describe it as such):
Derek Roberts, Jonathan Betts, John Martin, Alexander Stewart
Title: Precision Pendulum Clocks - The Quest for acurate Timekeeping
SubTitle: [Volume 1]
Keywords: precision complication
Edition: 2003, 1st edition
Page or pages: 224
Title: Precision Pendulum Clocks - English Precision Pendulum Clocks
SubTitle: [Volume 2]
Keywords: highgrade precision advanced pendulum
Other Keywords: Shelton Mudge Dutton Ellicot Cumming Arnold Dent Earnshaw Margretts Vuillamy Hardy Ferguson Fordsham
Edition: 1st edition
Page or pages: 295
Derek Roberts, Donald Saff, Philip Woodward, George Feinstein
Title: Precision Pendulum Clocks - France, Germany, America, and Recent Developments
SubTitle: [Volume 3]
Keywords: highgrade precision pendulum Germany France USA
Other Keywords: Berthoud Lapaute Robin Janvier Breguet Lepine Leroy Rieffler Strasser Fedchenko Bateman Littlemore
Edition: 1st edition
Page or pages: 288
This 800 page , 3volume book, simply contains just about everything worth knowing on precision pensulum clocks and their history, and if precision pendulum clocks is my favorite subject, this makes Derek RObert's trilogy my favorite horological book.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I believe the simple answer lies in your area of interest. I have plenty of great clock books, but I do not collect clocks so none are my favorites and others are almost never used.
Just to enlight others--another favorite is the Gould book on chronometers.
I would agree with Jon
# Title: Marine Chronometer
SubTitle: Its History and Development
# Author: Ruppert T. (Lt.Cmdr. RN) Gould, Sir Frank Watson (Foreword) Dyson
# Publisher: J.D.Potter
Other Keywords: Harrison longitude precision timekeeping auxillary balances -- Library of Congress: QB107 .G6 1989
Language: ENG QB107 .G6
Notes: The first complete book on chronometers and the Harrison seagoing clocks
Edition: 1923, 1st Edition -- Copyright: 1923
Type: Marine Chronometer
Geographic area: USA
Pages: 288 -- Height in cm: 24
is one of the truly great horological books.
Everything mentioned so far is high on my list of favorites, .... to expand the list a little more, I have to nominate Early English Clocks, Dawson Drover & Parkes, and John Robeys 2 Volume set, The Longcase Clock Reference.
Allix & Bonnert's tome on the History of Carriage Clocks is hard to beat in it's area of interest.
Britten's Watch & Clock Maker's Handbook, Dictionery and Guide is an underappreciated book.
There are plenty of others. ..... especially in foreign languages, though regrettably, they are only picture books for me. I still chase them.
I finally nailed an Erbrich.
This is a hard one but out of ones I have read recently I would suggest Cescinsky, Herbert & Webster's English Domestic Clocks and Barder's Englsih Country Grandfather Clocks - the Brass Dial Longcase.
Very tough question!
Derek Roberts' trilogy just makes me drool!
But Robey's Longcase Reference gives so much insight into the organisation and people that created our industry, a different point of view.
And again a booklet from NAWCC Summer 1973 'George Graham's Classic Escapement' provides terrific value for money at a few $'s.
What I find encouraging is that there are folks out there willing to give time to promoting our passion.
An example is:clockwatch.de
Have look at his escapement simulations
Hardly such thing as a bad clock book, just a shortage of time to devour!
My current favorite (since it just arrived) is the 2 volumes of 'Die Taschenuhrensammlung von Gerd Ahrens'.
Written in German and pretty much Greek to me BUT the pictures and selection of pocket watches are to die for. Beautifully made book with no expense spared. It is a wonderful visual reference based on type of watch (I guess escapement type). This man had an incredible collection. Only 1200 printed (if I read it right) so get yours now! You won't be sorry.
Guess I sound like an advertisement but I'm just someone who enjoys looking at pics of great pocket watches.
Great choice Luca. How did you hear about this rather obscure publication?
I agree, the books on the Ahrends collection are wonderful. Even if one does read German this is not leashurly reading, but heavy duty studying. I wish more private horological collections would be documented this way. Even most museums dont have their pieces documented as thoroughly as Pfeiffer-Beli and his collaborators did with the Ahrends collection.
A full review of the 2 volumes appeared in this forum on December 30,2006;
It is repeated below:
The Gerd Ahrens Collection of Pocket Watches
“Die Taschenuhrensammlung von Gerd Ahrens”, published [in German] by Christian Pfeiffer-Belli, with contributions of Wolf Brueggemann, Norbert Enders, Peter Friess, Martin Otzenberger, Joseph M. Stadl, and Susanne Stadl. ISBN 3-7667 1668 3, 2006 Callwey Verlag, Muenchen (Germany). Limited edition of 1200 numbered copies. Two volumes in slipcase, 655 pages. Price: Euro 128 (approx. USD 170) plus postage.
The pocketwatch collection of Gerd Ahrens, the legendary German collector, who recently passed away in Switzerland, must have been one of the most significant private collections ever assembled documenting the technical history of the pocket watch. Over a span of 50 years, Mr. Ahrens systematically sought out watches with unusual escapements, striking mechanisms or winding systems, covering everything from the 16th to the early 20th century. A total of over 750 significant pocket watches, many of them unique, were acquired over a lifetime. The 538 most interesting of these form the basis of the publication under review.
Christian Pfeiffer-Belli –longtime editor of the magazine “Klassik Uhren”- assembled a team of experts, writers and photographers, and led one of the most ambitious projects ever to fully document such a rich collection. The resulting publication is massive in more ways than one (it weighs about 10 pounds). The two large format books were produced on heavy stock, and come in a substantial slipcase. But the “content” is just as imposing as the physical dimensions.
Fundamentally, the book is a detailed descriptive catalog of the 538 “best” watches from an extraordinary private collection of pocket watches of technical interest. It is organized into seven chapters, based on types of escapement: 1. Verge escapements (68 watches), 2. Cylinder escapements (75), 3. Duplex escapements (27), 4. Chronometer escapements (65), 5. Tourbillons (8), 6. Specialty escapements (24), and 7. Leverescapements (272). The book starts with a short biographic sketch of the collector; each of the seven chapters starts with an illustrated discussion on how that particular type of escapement functions.
The bulk of the publication is devoted to the individual watches. Each is presented in its own one or two page spread. Each of these 538 descriptions includes a live-size picture of the watch from its dial side, and a picture of the movement (at 100% or 150% of original size). In some cases, there is a third photograph, e.g. of the case back, the signature, or a technical detail. In addition the majority of the entries have their own line-drawing illustrations explaining the escapement (most are from the pen of David Penney, who in the opinion of this reviewer is the most talented horological illustrator alive). About half of each page is devoted to text, describing movement, case, dial and hands in detail, including all signatures and marks. Comments from the handwritten catalog of the collector are quoted, and unusual features are described. Exact dimensions (diameter and thickness) are given in millimeters. The provenance is given, and there are bibliographic references (books and auction catalogs, down to specific pages) for each watch.
It should be clear by now that this is not a pretty coffee table book on pocket watches, but a very serious work of horological scholarly documentation. Befitting the nature of the book there are several indices, by Maker, Location and Type of escapement. The general bibliography in the appendix is not very extensive.
This is not the book a novice pocket watch collector should buy to get an overview of what is out there to collect. This is not a book that is easy and pleasant to browse through; studying the history of the pocket watch through this book is hard work; yes there is lot of interesting and useful information, but there is no easy to follow “story”.
While the horological scholar in me is delighted that this book was written and published, I can not help but wonder who the intended buyers are. It was published in 1200 numbered copies, and sells at price of Euros 128 (plus shipping). While two hundred US dollars landed cost is not cheap for any book, it is self evident to this reviewer that this price reflects merely the approximate marginal production costs of one set – if that, and that the enormous one time expense for gathering and organizing the data and creating the illustrations and layout must have been underwritten by a third party.
This catalog was intended as a tribute to Gerd Ahrens on occasion of his 85th birthday in September 2005. Production delays caused this deadline to be missed, and Mr. Ahrens died in December 2005. Maybe it is therefore appropriate to see the fact that the Ahrens collection now is so superbly documented as his most valuable gift to posterity. Horological researchers and scholars for generations will cherish the few copies produced, even the readers who may not be fully fluent in German. Contact the publisher at www.callwey.de if you want to own one of the most comprehensive documentations on the technical history of the pocket watch ever created.
Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, Sussex, New Jersey
December 28, 2006
Actually I probably read your review or other comments on the book and then went looking for it. So thanks for that and glad you put it in this thread!
Though I can't read most of it (I did take a short course in German) I still find it fascinating. The illustrations of the escapements are very useful and overall scope amazing. Even some scarce American watches are shown such as Waltham 5 min. repeaters, Fasoldts, Howards, etc. - though the bulk is European - the American contribution hasn't been neglected.
My Favorite Horological books are--
John Arnold & Son by Vaudrey Mercer
The Frodshams by Vaudrey mercer
Edward John Dent and his Successors by Vaudrey Mercer
100 Years of Precision Timekeepers from John Arnold to Arnold & Frodsham 1763-1862 by Hans Staeger
Marine & Pocket Chronometers by Hans Von Bertele
The Ships Chroniometer by Marvin Whitney
The Marine Chronometer by Rupert Gould
Suffolk Clocks & Clockmakers by Haggar & Miller
Great choices so far. My favorites are:
1) Longitude by Dava Sobel
2) Gould's lecture transcript when he finished the restoration of the Harrison Timepieces.
Another book worthy of mention is
Catalogue of Watches in the British Museum: Pocket Chronometers, Marine Chronometers and Other Portable Precision Timekeepers Vol VI by Anthony Randall. His catalog of Chronometers in the TIme Museum is pretty good too
I can't really say that one book has done it all for me, however, becoming a collector has taken me down a path of reading, that I never really experienced before. I find that searching books for watch information regarding Trademarks, Jewelers, and Makers Marks, along with other Horological information, is what I have developed a passion for.
I also search the National Archives, Genealogy information, and so many different materials, that to pin down one of them would be impossible.
For me, it's the new passion for reading, that's what stirs me.
One day I looked up from my 1915 "TradeMarks of the Jewelry and Kindred Trades" and a couple of others like it, only to realized that I had been reading for over 9, yes, NINE hours!!
My point, I just like being a part of a generation that will used these precious books, to combine information, for future generations.
I also love to find a mark that someone just can't find.
They are out there, you just have to FIND THE RIGHT BOOK!!!
favorites usually reflect someone's speciality.
General books might be best for a library--Baillie and Britten is a great start.
That is not really a "general" book, though, Jon; it is a reference of makers.
Unless you mean Britten's "Handbook" without the Ballie.
I have not seen Rita Shenton's book or the several books by Ernest Edwardes mentioned yet.
What about Donald DeCarle and John Wilding? E J Tyler wrote some good books.
There are a few smaller, but interesting books - Gazeley, Rawlings, Randall, Hasluck.
For electric clocks, there is Hope-Jones (3 books at least) and Eliot Isaacs (been looking for that one for a long time!)
For anyone interested in repeating bracket clocks by well-known makers, there is the wonderful "Hobson's Choice" - drawings and explanations of clocks by Tompion, Knibb, Windmills et al.
I bought a copy of Woodward on Time during a recent visit to the BHI at Upton Hall. I had already seen quite a bit of the book as articles in the Scientific Horology Chapter Newsletter, but it is so nice to have Philip's thoughts gathered together in one book. The book reprints essentially all his short essays and notes and has margin notes printed to express his views after 40 or so years of reflection in many cases.
I have really been enjoying reading this as a bedtime exercise.
I just finished the chapter on his gearless clock. It was great fun to read how he had worked to avoid any semblence of gears including avoiding sprockets and chains.
I, too, have Dr Woodward's book; for me, I like his lateral thinking - he has desighed clocks with a completely clean slate based on requirements.
I started collecting materials for his gearless clock a while ago, as the design is fascinating.
John Wilding serialised the design in ME with all drawings.
I think Jon is referring to the Chamberlain book and your's is, My Own Time, Philip Woodward.
I think that may be "My Own Right Time."
I have that one also and love it. I just wish I had hands that could do even semi-delicate work and a round tuit as good as Mike's.
This week (as it changes):
I like anything by Brian Loomes. Why? Mostly for his writing style. It is easy to understand (which I need, having no higher education). His books are very descriptive, informative, having many pics (another aspect of books I like). The more recent the book, the more I like it. "Complete British Clocks" is the least favorite book by Loomes that I own.
Ralph and Tom
Yes, that is the one. Regarding Britten's Guide, I have the earlier and the last edition, edited by Richard Good, and they are completely different; you need both of them!
I did not mention Malcolm Wild's treatise on wheel cutting, either; there are two versions; the later one is much more comprehensive.
Brian Loomes - hmmm .... I have a credibility problem there, possibly more to do with myself rather than Mr Loomes; on his own admission he knows little about actually repairing clocks, and I was rather underwhelmed when I saw his showroom, though that is some years ago; long cases covered in treacly gloss varnish and unequal drops you could hear across the room before the seconds hands gave them away.
He is probably OK with researching data, though; something which I can take or leave.
Books that do not impress me are Anthony Whiten and Eric Smith; his volume on striking and chiming clocks covers no more that many other less specialised books, and misses out reams of things relevant to the subject.
Whiten's book has a rather irritating gung-ho Hooray Henry style, and bodges are shown as OK.
For the newer books, Laurie Penman is much better.
There are 2 books that I go to again and again just out of utter facination (don't ask me where that comes from) - Beeson's English Church Clocks 1280 - 1850, and Shelley's Early American Tower Clocks. I do not work on them as part of my business but, I don't know, something about turret clocks really grabs my imagination or something. Aloha, Rick
Some of Loomes books describe the way the clockmaking trade was 250 years ago. His books have been very helpful to me, in matters like how to evaluate an ancient clock. Also, valuable for ID + dating (I am speaking not only of the "Clockmakers and Watchmakers of the World"). I can better objectively look at clocks, through different eyes than before, because of some of Loome's books.
Clock repair books do not interest me as much as historical info. books. Conover, DeCarle, Balcomb, and this here MB, take care of the repair writings for me thus far. Repair books are practical, but don't necessarily "light up my life". So, we are looking at the topic of favorite books with differing preferences.
... absolutely so, which brings us back full circle, Chris. Which is better, an apple or a pear? There is no answer. Horses for courses. I do not have a favourite clock book; I have about 12 favourites!
Mike, As you say each to his own but I think this is a tad unfair on Loomes who has never professed to be a repairer or attempted to write on such matters, maybe because his son runs a clock repair business! As I am sure you know he started out as a genealogist and so is very into research, something which IMO he does pretty well on his chosen subject matter.
It is probably just me; my opinions on some things are a bit controversial (more than you see on here, even!) and probably wrong in many cases!
It just stuck in my mind that I saw a collection of poorly restored clocks with very high prices indeed, that were sold on the vendor's name.
A bit like a lot of so-called "designer labels" items having a nought or two on the price (and not thevalue), though they originate from the same Far Eastern sweatshops as the ones you buy for pence at a Sunday Market.
Loomes is probably the best of the researchers; I don't really know the subject or know if there are any yardsticks.
[QUOTE="Complete British Clocks" is the least favorite book by Loomes that I own.[/QUOTE]
That is the book I am reading now! I love it. But it is my first book on the subject. I know I'll have to get his other books now. What is in your pot, Chris? I have Tom Yum Gai in mine.
Very interesting thread this, it caught my eye this morning when I opened the board. I see it started in 2007, so I was surprised to know why it was awakened now. It's very hard to say which is my favorite book, there are so many. What really caught my eye was the write-up by Fortunat Müeller-Maerki on the collection of Gerd Ahrens. My story on those books (There are two in a case). I spent a week in Dresden in the summer of 2007, and of course, I spent some time at the Springer, though at that time it was under restoration and I was unable to look at the clocks. So I went into the shop there and had a look at what they had on offer, and in one corner were the two books laid out for the public to look at, and to order a copy. The case was at one side in a very grubby state from being handled by so many tourists. So I spoke to the lady about the books and she said they were not taking any more orders, she thought they may have all gone. So I asked if I could buy the ones on display-I will ask she said- she came back and said I could have them for €120, that was €8.00 cheaper for the makes on the cover. So I bought them. Only a few weeks later there was a set on eBay, and I bought those too, for €11.00 My copy was 459- those from eBay were numbered 488 and far cleaner than mine. Though at the bottom of these two books is stamped "Mangelexemplar" Damaged examples. I have never found anything that would justify the word, they are just like new today, as I use the dirty copies from the museum in Dresden They are not my favorite books- but they are very clean. I printed off the notes by Fortunat and stuck a copy in each of the cases for the next owners
There are many excellent books that are focused on different aspects of horology, but I think my favorite is a general book - Britten's Old Clocks and Watches and Their Makers. Maybe it is my favorite because it was also my first book and introduced me to so many different aspects of watches and clocks and their evolution (mechanically and aesthetically) through the years. My brothers gave me the 7th edition for my 17th birthday over 50 years ago. I later acquired the 9th edition which has an expanded list of makers, but I still go back to the 7th for review.
I know how you feel Jerry, Britten´s book are very good, if he could only have the advances we have today? Talking again in General about books, my new avatar is an old telephone box in a small town here in Germany called Havixbeck. They use it as an exchange box. You go along and if you see a book in there you like, you can take it, you can also place books in there you no longer need. It is kept in order by the locals. It´s all free of charge. In different styles, you can find them now all over Germany, a great idea.