National Geographic : 1947 Sep
425 Split-second Time Runs Today's World 1800 cheaper rather than better clocks were prevalent. It was customary to buy the works from a clockmaker and to have a local cabinetmaker make the case. Sometimes the works were hung on the wall without a case. These dust collectors were known as "wag-on-the-wall" clocks. An outstanding Connecticut clockmaker, Eli Terry, pioneered in using machinery for quan tity production of clocks and established the use of interchangeable parts in clock manu facturing.* Terry obtained one of the first clock patents ever granted in the United States with his now famous "pillar and scroll" shelf clock, a radical departure from the long case clock. Often Terry traveled on horseback, carrying as many clocks as he could. When the weather looked threatening, the story goes, he would leave a clock at a farmer's house with the understanding that he'd return for it in a few days. Often, when he came back, the farmer had grown so accustomed to the clock that he didn't want to part with it, and a sale was made. In partnership with Seth Thomas and Silas Hoadley, Terry contracted to make 4,000 clocks. Friends and neighbors alike shook their heads and warned him solemnly, "You are losing your mind, Eli. The first thing you know, the country will be so full of clocks that there will be no market for them." But Terry completed the order within three years. Seth Thomas, Terry's onetime partner, bought him out in 1813 and began business at Plymouth Hollow (now Thomaston), Con necticut. Here in 1853 he formed the Seth Thomas Clock Company, still outstanding in the clock-making field (page 422). The World's Biggest Clock Largest clock in the world, erected over the works of the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Com pany, in Jersey City, New Jersey, was made by the Seth Thomas people in 1927. The dial, plainly visible for miles in New York Harbor, is 50 feet in diameter. The minute hand is 2714 feet long and weighs 2,200 pounds. The tip of the hand travels 31 inches a minute, or 500 times the distance between two minute marks on an ordinary watch (page 410). Two other Connecticut sons, Joseph Ives and Chauncey Jerome, pioneered in the pro duction of rolled-brass clocks, which lowered the cost and accelerated manufacture. Jerome * See "Connecticut, Product of Ingenuity," by Leo A. Borah, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, Septem ber, 1938. () E. 0. 1Ioppe Lights Go On Again-All over Big Ben London's famous Westminster Clock takes its name from the 13'-ton hour bell, whose sonorous voice is broadcast each New Year's Eve. When blitz bomb ings shattered one of the clock's four glass faces, Big Ben's heart didn't skip a beat; later, a workman's hammer, wedged in the works, stopped its tick. Each dial is 23 feet in diameter.