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Research for a novel

shelaghcs

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I am working on a novel in which a man familiar with the trade is trying to fix his family's Asa Munger Stovepipe hollow column empire shelf clock. (Unlike my character, I am NOT familiar with the trade, but am familiar with Google.) Here's my question:
  • If a piece of paper - actually an envelope with paper inside - had been stuffed into one of those columns, would that cause the clock to stop working? I'm hoping yes, of course. And I'm assuming if it would hamper the clock's function, that would have to do with the allowance of weights to move within those columns. But ... not sure.
  • Also, I'd love to write a somewhat coherent scene with reasonably accurate assessment of things he does to diagnose the clock before finding the envelope. But for a lay audience of readers. What might he check, on such a clock, that he could investigate with basic tools? (What tools?) I can feel you all rolling your eyes.
I've enjoyed reading the posts here, and admire your collective passion for clocks. It's contagious.
Thank you for any input or suggestions.

Shelagh
 

lpbp

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Your assumptions sound good to me, the paper would hamper whichever side it was on, certainly would have been a better place to hide the paper, lots of work to put it in the pipe, and then not have it work.
 
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shelaghcs

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Your assumptions sound good to me, the paper would hamper whichever side it was on, certainly would have been a better place to hide the paper, lots of work to put it in the pipe, and then not have it work.
Great point. I have ways to make that a workable part of the plot: the poor decision about where to stash it. And I'll check old threads for info on basic repairs. Readers are sticklers for detail and I don't want to be caught out on a simple (to the average horology hobbyist) mistake. Thank you lpbp for offering input. - S.
 

Ticktocktime100

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Hi,

In my humble opinion, the inspection phase you speak of could be an entertaining read if, for instance, your character removes the hands with pliers and the dial screws with a screwdriver (obviously), to reveal the paper wedged above the movment, preventing it from working, and furthermore the details of the movement itself - perhaps the paper could contain the pendulum and key, which are essential pieces? Such lucky finds do actually occur... Best of luck on what sounds like an interesting project, may I ask why you chose Munger specifically? Indeed, he is a well-known figure amongst American collectors but not always universally.

Regards.
 
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rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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I am working on a novel in which a man familiar with the trade is trying to fix his family's Asa Munger Stovepipe hollow column empire shelf clock. (Unlike my character, I am NOT familiar with the trade, but am familiar with Google.) Here's my question:
  • If a piece of paper - actually an envelope with paper inside - had been stuffed into one of those columns, would that cause the clock to stop working? I'm hoping yes, of course. And I'm assuming if it would hamper the clock's function, that would have to do with the allowance of weights to move within those columns. But ... not sure.
  • Also, I'd love to write a somewhat coherent scene with reasonably accurate assessment of things he does to diagnose the clock before finding the envelope. But for a lay audience of readers. What might he check, on such a clock, that he could investigate with basic tools? (What tools?) I can feel you all rolling your eyes.
I've enjoyed reading the posts here, and admire your collective passion for clocks. It's contagious.
Thank you for any input or suggestions.

Shelagh
Start the novel with, "It was a dark and stormy night...."

I have an idea. Many old clocks bear the notations of past repair people, owners, etc. These inscriptions are typically found on the back of the dial, the back of the door crosspiece, the board backing an old mirror tablet, even the back of the reverse painted tablet and just about every place else inside. I have owned some with a family provenance inscribed on the back board and another on the back of the dial. My favorite repairperson's notation was this one on the back of a dial:

jerome transition 1.JPG

I don't know what type of novel you are contemplating and what the message found would say.

My suggestion is for the clockmaker to find an inscription left in the clock and unseen many years ago until he finds it.

"It was a dark and stormy night. The old clockmaker removed the dial. When he saw the back of it, he gasped in a combination of disbelief and horror. So, it was true!!...."

RM
 
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shelaghcs

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Dec 8, 2020
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Hi,

In my humble opinion, the inspection phase you speak of could be an entertaining read if, for instance, your character removes the hands with pliers and the dial screws with a screwdriver (obviously), to reveal the paper wedged above the movment, preventing it from working, and furthermore the details of the movement itself - perhaps the paper could contain the pendulum and key, which are essential pieces? Such lucky finds do actually occur... Best of luck on what sounds like an interesting project, may I ask why you chose Munger specifically? Indeed, he is a well-known figure amongst American collectors but not always universally.

Regards.
Thank you for this, Ticktocktime100! I'll keep the movement in mind as another spot the envelope could have been hidden. I can't even recall why I chose the Munger except I was looking for those columns. I read about many clocks, and was intrigued by Munger's use of prisoners in building his clocks. This isn't relevant to the plot, which is contemporary, but makes a nice detail for some of the dialogue between two horologists in the book. As to the pendulum and key, not sure that works with the plot, but I'd love to work it in in some way. Will keep in mind.

Best,
S
 

shelaghcs

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Start the novel with, "It was a dark and stormy night...."

I have an idea. Many old clocks bear the notations of past repair people, owners, etc. These inscriptions are typically found on the back of the dial, the back of the door crosspiece, the board backing an old mirror tablet, even the back of the reverse painted tablet and just about every place else inside. I have owned some with a family provenance inscribed on the back board and another on the back of the dial. My favorite repairperson's notation was this one on the back of a dial:

View attachment 633195

I don't know what type of novel you are contemplating and what the message found would say.

My suggestion is for the clockmaker to find an inscription left in the clock and unseen many years ago until he finds it.

"It was a dark and stormy night. The old clockmaker removed the dial. When he saw the back of it, he gasped in a combination of disbelief and horror. So, it was true!!...."

RM
Wow! How great is that inscription? Wonderful. Thank you. I need this to be a certain envelope, and yet why couldn't there be a very cool signature inside the clock as well? This scene may become quite rich in detail.

I very much appreciate the feedback.

Best,
S.
 
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RJSoftware

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The problem about it is that we assume the clock was running after the insertion. A person hiding something would not want attention drawn to the clock. Also it wouldn't be common knowledge about hollow columns providing space for weights held on string to slide down. Let alone that some clocks are weight driven. But, I could be wrong.

A folded paper pinned/taped behind the dial would eventually fall into top of the movement, stopping the gears. Tape or a pin could hold for years. Or not. This gives you relief from too explicit details and logical reasoning.

Arjay
 
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Jim DuBois

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20. Large Munger copy.JPG 1011shmung.jpg 23621606_1_l.jpg 56762243_3_x.jpg 0601clmung.jpg 69670261_2931361350213999_6780676783881584640_n.jpg 56762243_4_x.jpg

I would guess you already have stovepipe Munger photos, but just in case, here are a couple of more rare ones as well as a bit of detail.
 

Ralph

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Jim,

Those are beauties.....

Cheers, Ralph
 

shelaghcs

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shelaghcs

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The problem about it is that we assume the clock was running after the insertion. A person hiding something would not want attention drawn to the clock. Also it wouldn't be common knowledge about hollow columns providing space for weights held on string to slide down. Let alone that some clocks are weight driven. But, I could be wrong.

A folded paper pinned/taped behind the dial would eventually fall into top of the movement, stopping the gears. Tape or a pin could hold for years. Or not. This gives you relief from too explicit details and logical reasoning.

Arjay
Thank you for writing, Arjay. It sounds like the columns might create a tough job for both the hider of the letter and the person who ultimately finds it. I'll keep the movement in mind too, as I write.
 

shelaghcs

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If I were to pursue this plot, where the envelope is stuffed into a column, would that be accessible from the top, as this picture might indicate (a bit hard to see that interior)? If so, I see why a few of you have suggested there would be easier places to stash the pages. Hmm. Or would the entire back of the clock come off and offer access through the backs of those columns? The column in another photo looks self-contained - inaccessible from the back. How does one work on the weights?

Thanks again...

- Shelagh
1611342419752.png
 

shelaghcs

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A colorful character in the clock realm is Elmer Stennes.
Wouldn't it be fun to include him in a novel.
Check this out:
Elmer Stennes of Weymouth, Massachusetts. @ Delaney Antique Clocks

Best,
Dick
Will need to keep a little note on this. It's true he'd make a great character or even central focus of a larger narrative. Wouldn't work for this book, but interesting. Gruesome but entertaining. Also, those clocks marked with O.O.B., for when he was out on bail, must be worth something now...
 

Jim DuBois

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A few of us still remember EOS. And some of us not fondly. I was a complete newbie and he had no time for me and was rude about it. EOS treated others in a similar fashion from what I have been told. I would not cast him in a heroic role in anything I wrote about his character.

Conversely, the fellow who did much of EOS's casework was Foster Campos who was by my experience an absolute gentleman and always willing to help me, and many others.
 
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Dick Feldman

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A few of us still remember EOS. And some of us not fondly. I was a complete newbie and he had no time for me and was rude about it. EOS treated others in a similar fashion from what I have been told. I would not cast him in a heroic role in anything I wrote about his character.

Conversely, the fellow who did much of EOS's casework was Foster Campos who was by my experience an absolute gentleman and always willing to help me, and many others.
So, Jim--- Are you inferring that EOS got his just rewards being shot to death in his own bed?
 

steamer471

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I would think hidden on the strike side could wedge the weight eventually stop or prevent the weight from being wound. A lot of people can't stand the sound of a clock chiming and would continue to use it even if the strike side did not work. Even if the clock is serviced the owner may not wish to have the strike side repaired and it could be used for years before the strike side is investigated.
 
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Jim DuBois

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So Dick,
Have you read the attachment that Ralph linked to above? I make no inference whatsoever. I stated my experience and suggested others had like experiences. The piece in Yankee magazine may clarify EOS for you.
 

shelaghcs

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I would think hidden on the strike side could wedge the weight eventually stop or prevent the weight from being wound. A lot of people can't stand the sound of a clock chiming and would continue to use it even if the strike side did not work. Even if the clock is serviced the owner may not wish to have the strike side repaired and it could be used for years before the strike side is investigated.
That is very helpful. This is an old letter, hidden some years ago. So finding a way for the clock's state of disrepair to go unnoticed is useful. I've drafted the scene, but will add this aspect to the details. Thank you!

Incidentally: is there an order that a person would follow in winding? First the time, then the strike? Or is the order more or less irrelevant?
 

shelaghcs

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So, Jim--- Are you inferring that EOS got his just rewards being shot to death in his own bed?
My sense of Jim's message was simply that he didn't think the gentleman deserved to be featured as a hero, not that he deserved his unfortunate fate. Sounds like an unsympathetic character. It's an interesting story, in any case.

I appreciate all of this energetic conversation, which is helping me a great deal. Thank you all!
 
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JTD

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Incidentally: is there an order that a person would follow in winding? First the time, then the strike? Or is the order more or less irrelevant?
No special order - it doesn't matter to the clock.

JTD
 
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