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Review: Pook (2015): British Domestic Synchronous Clocks

  • Thread starter Fortunat Mueller-Maerki
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Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

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Everything you ever wanted to know about British Made Synchronous Clocks of the 20[SUP]th[/SUP] Century
Bookreview 2015 by Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

British Domestic Synchronous Clocks 1930-1980 - The Rise and Fall of a Technology. By Leslie Philip Pook. Published in English 2015 as Volume 29 in the Series ‚History of Mechanisms and Machine Science' by Springer International Publishing. ISBN 978-3-319-14387-3 [hardcover] or ISBN 978-3-319-14388 [e-book], ISSN 1875-3442. 248 pages. Well over 500 illustrations, mostly in color. Includes Glossary and References. Available through the publishers website http://www.springer.com/engineering/mechanical+engineering/book/978-3-319-14387-3 or through Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/British-Domestic-Synchronous-Clocks-1930-1980/dp/3319143875 for $109.

This book is a unique and very useful addition to the working library of any clock collector or clock restorer interested in - or working on - British made, electrically driven mechanical clocks made between 1930 and 1980. There simply is no other publication -in or out of print- that covers the subject in the same depth and detail.

The following sections make up the book:

  1. Introduction, terminology, etc. (14 pages)
  2. Trade Associations, Production volumes, Identification, Brands (4 pages)
  3. Manufacturers (Synoptic histories of 21 makers), (13 pages)
  4. How a Synchronous Clock Works (24 pages)
  5. Synchronous Clock Cases (14 pages)
  6. Servicing Synchronous Clocks (10 pages)
  7. Marketing & Reliability (12 pages)
  8. Gallery of Synchronous Clocks (mantel clocks, bedside clocks, wall clocks, floorstanding clocks) 1-2 specific examples per page, short paragraph on each clock, each with front and back view (189 pages)
  9. Gallery of Synchronous Movements (37 movements from 15 makers illustrated and described, 1 to 7 images per movement) (60 pages).

It is apparent that the author knows and understands the material thoroughly and the book contains hundreds of details useful to the repairer/restorer or the collector alike. Much of the information is in the hundreds of color photographs (usually front and back of case and movement) of over 100 different clocks. This is a 'Reference Text' not a 'read through' book, and nothing remotely similar has ever been published before. Any serious electrical horologist -professional or enthusiast alike- needs this book in his library.

What is curious is the publishing venue; Springer is a globally leading publisher of academic textbooks, many of them targeted to small niche readerships. The hobbyist/craftsman/collector market admittedly has some similarities to academic textbooks, but these target audiences are even smaller. While the book offers comprehensive coverage of the technology of synchronous electric clocks (and the author has taught engineering students) there are vastly more images of cases and back labels (i.e. material aimed at the collector/restorer rather than at the repairer). This reviewer also wonders how horological readers will react to academic text book pricing.

Congratulations to the author for the labor of love of assembling all this specialized material for a rather small niche audience. The horological world should be thankfull for the role authors like Leslie Philip Pook play in documenting and preserving obscure corners of the world's horological heritage.

Fortunat Mueller-Maerki - Sussex NJ, USA

18 March 2015


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