REVIEW: Fritsch: Viennese Travelling Clocks

Discussion in 'Horological Books' started by Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, Mar 14, 2011.

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  1. Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki National Library Chair
    NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Life Member Donor

    Aug 25, 2000
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    “Viennese” Travelling Clocks

    BOOKREVIEW
    “Viennese” Travelling Clocks – “Wiener” Reiseuhren. By Peter Fritsch. Published 2010 by the Author (FCP Eigenverlag, Wien. ISBN 987-3-200-01931-7. 528 pages, 30x22 cm, hardcover, dustjacket, well over 1000 color illustrations; Index, Bibliography. Available from www.amazon.de for Euro 96.-.

    The term ‘traveling clock’ is not commonly used among English speaking horologist, and when combined with ‘Viennese’ most students of horological history are unlikely to visualize an instant mental image. To have a scholarly, in-depth, richly illustrated monograph in English appear on the market is a completely unexpected and thus doubly appreciated pleasure.

    Peter Fritsch, a resident of Vienna has for many years systematically collected clocks originating in the Austrian empire, which are made to be moved around, i.e. which are not regulated by a pendulum. I assume he has avoided the term ‘carriage clock’ on purpose because that word evokes the image of a certain case style in the franco/british tradition that is ad odds with the amazing variety of the Fritsch collection. Upon retiring from a professional career the author, like many an amateur horologist, set out to more fully document his collection, originally planning a more modest publication, meant to be primarily an identification guide to a style of clock which has been virtually absent in most publications.

    The core of this hefty book is labeled the “Gallery” and runs from page 77 to page 434. Arranged in roughly chronological order, that section has entries (varying in length from half a page to 2 pages) on over 200 clocks. One to seven photographic images of each object typically take more space than the two text blocks. (The whole book is bilingual German/English). Images, besides an overall front view, often include separate photographs of movements and case details. The brief texts state maker, dimensions, movement and escapement descriptions, as well as provenance where available. From the original core, consisting f the authors own collection, this “Gallery” grew as he decided to include timekeepers fitting his category that he encountered at auctions and in the antiques trade. A separate 25 page section documents the traveling clocks found in Museums of the region, and a further 50 pages are devoted to several other private collections, neighboring regions and replicas. Altogether the picture section covers 435 pages and around 400 different clocks.

    This is proceeded by a 49 page introduction (fully bilingual German/English, with facing columns) covering a general history of horology, and a general history of the Vienna style travel clock. This also includes a short discussion of movements and escapements, as well as most useful pictoral guides to variations of handles, feet, finials, case supports, plinths and carrying cases.

    Admittedly few horological collectors in the English speaking world will be faced with needing to identify an abundance of traveling clocks originating in the Austro-Hungarian empire. So there are not many people outside of the region for whom this is a ‘must buy” book. But given the masses of information included in the publication, its superb quality, and the expertise of the author, the book can bring immense pleasure and significantly expand the knowledge of any serious student of horological history desiring to expand his horizon. This reviewer thanks the author for creating it, I learned a lot, and enjoyed studying many unusual clocks which I would never have seen without it.



    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, Sussex NJ
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