Clocks are extraordinary rich ingredients of our material culture, layered with meanings relating to wealth, status and power. They are Man's first precision engineering and first mechanical arts expressing the desire to provide temporal ordering to our lives, and to relate our history to the rhythm of stars. The development of the clock was related to both astronomical science and navigational science, and its earliest inventors like Galileo, were revered for their scientific knowledge and technical skill.

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Throughout the 20th century, the gift of large and expensive clocks retained its symbolic public value as a magnanimous gesture undertaken at special times and special places; its subjective value in relating the identities of donors and recipients, and their feelings and beliefs to a larger social system, in this case, Brown University (Pembroke College), resisted the test of time.

While the makers of the works get to sign on the dial, it is really a combined effort of the clockmakers, cabinetmakers, inlaymakers, brassfounders, silversmiths, engravers, and decorative painters that make the clock. Similarly, this catalog came about thanks to the invaluable guidance of Prof. Robert Emlen, who was introduced to me by Prof. Dian Kriz and the help of Raymond Butti, Hay Archives Assistant.

Text and photographs by Yannling Lim '03, Brown University.
XML development by Ann Caldwell and Patrick Yott, University Library.
This project was undertaken as an independent study, Spring 2003.