Review:Fraiture: Belgische Uurwerken en hun Makers A-Z - Horloges et Horlegers Belges

  • Thread starter Fortunat Mueller-Maerki
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Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

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Sep 23, 2001
A Directory of the Historic Clock and Watch Makers of Belgium

Belgische Uurwerken en hun Makers A-Z - Horloges et Horlegers Belges A-Z
[Belgian Clocks and Watches and their Makers A-Z]. By Eddy Fraiture. Published as a bi-lingual Flemish/French edition, 2009 by Uitgeverij Peeters, Leuven (Belgium). ISBN 978-90-429-2251-8. 638 pages, 28 x 23 cm, softcover; over 60 illustrations (color photographs), Bibliography. Available from for US $68, free shipping in the USA.

Among the most essential tools of any serious student of horological history are the published directories of watch and clock makers of yesteryear. F.J. Britten’s ‘Former Watch and Clock Makers and their Work’, (later called ‘Old Clocks and Watches and their Makers’} first published in 1894 launched a category that today holds scores of major titles. Starting in 1929 G.H. Baillie expanded Britten’s list to growing it to 35’000 names. By 1975 Brian Loomes had created an “international” companion volume with a similar number of names and the combined set became ‘Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World’, and its current reincarnation in one volume lists only Loomes as the author, listing around 80’000 names, has probably reached the limit of what is practical in a ink on paper, one volume book.

Over time countless more specialized directory books appeared. The category now includes many regional directories (particularly for parts of the United Kingdom, or individual states in the USA), as well as national directories for most countries that have any kind of horological tradition. The best known of the national directories are Abeler for Germany (just out in a vastly expanded new edition after decades of being out of print), Tardy for France and Pritchard (watches only, no clocks) for Switzerland (new edition planned), and of course since 2000 Spittler’s ‘American Clockmakers and Watchmakers’.

But most of the countries with less visible horological traditions have had for many years excellent directories, like Morpurgo for the Netherlands and Italy, Claterbos for Austria, Mody for Japan, Burrows for Canada, as well as comprehensive books for all the Scandinavian countries.

Until recently one of the few exceptions was Belgium. Only in the year 2002 came a partial relief with the publication of ‘Uurwerkmakers en uuwerknijverheid in Vlaandern’ by Eddy Fraiture, a regional horological history of the Flemish speaking part of the country, which includes a 118 page directory of horological tradesmen.

Now the same author has published the book under review, the first comprehensive, nationwide historic directory of watch and clock makers of what today is Belgium. This unlike the regional Flanders book (where the directory took 40% of the pages), is primarily a directory (80% directory). Furthermore the Belgian directory is fully bilingual Flemish/French (including the directory listings), making it accessible to a larger international audience.

The ‘text’ section is only 49 pages each in Flemish and French, devoted to nine mini-chapters (Horology in Belgian history, Overview, Towerclocks, Early table clocks, Lantern clocks, Tall case clocks, Hubert Sarton, Monumental astronomical clocks), and half page sketches on seven prominent Belgian horologists. There are 60 color illustrations in the text (different images in two languages).

The directory section lists 4600 Belgian watch and clockmakers with entries ranging from 3 lines to nearly 3 pages (for the most famous Belgian clockmaker, Hubert Sarton, from Liege, 1748-1828). Like most other similar directories it gives a biographical summary and lists noteworthy or known individual pieces, but unlike most directories, it usually gives bibliographic references for where the information came from, and where more details on the mentioned piece were published, referring the reader often to auction catalogs, periodical articles or other publications. This reviewer feverently wishes more directories would follow this practice.

While the rank and file horological scholar is unlikely to personally acquire all these directories, I believe that it is vitally important that they all know what directories exist, and that they can be borrowed by members from the NAWCC library in Columbia, PA.

Fotunat Mueller-Maerki July 2011
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