Timby Solar Timepiece or Globe Clock. Saratoga Springs and Baldwinsville, New York. This very unusual case may have been a special order since it is the only example known. 221035

These “Timby’s Solar Timepieces” were made in Saratoga Springs and then later in Baldwinsville, New York. These distinctive clocks were manufactured and sold by L. E. Whiting, who advertised that they were the “Best made in America and unsurpassed in Europe… making it (the clock) an excellent timekeeper…” They were designed to illustrate the earth’s diurnal revolution and thus marketed as a geographical educator for the school room and family. The company was formed in 1863 and lasted two short years (1865). It appears, from existing numbered labels, that they produced approximately 600 clocks. A small percentage of the clock found have movements are reported to have been made in Saratoga by E. F. Rawson. However, the majority of the movement production used was supplied by LaPort Hubbell.

This is a very unusual example due to the distinctive shaping and finish of the case design. The common versions are constructed in walnut, lack many of the three-dimensional moldings and are finished to accentuate the wood’s natural color and grain. The predominate molding is fitted to the top of the case and fitted with three distinctive finials. Two are mounted just below the cornice molding in a hanging position. The third finial is centered at the top of the case. This finial is often treated with gilding.

The unique version offered here is much more shapely in its case presentation. The curved moldings are well-formed and frame the information presentation of the clock. The walnut wood is treated with a jet black finish. Many of the moldings are decorated with an applied string of brass beads. The top of the case is fitted with a turned wooden finial. The bottom of this decoration is finished in gold. The gold represents the sun positioned over the earth/globe. This globe measures six inches in diameter and rotates once every 24 hours. The globe was manufactured in Boston and is marked with the Joslin Label. This label reads, “JOSLIN’S / Six Inch / Terrestrial Globe, / Containing the latest Discoveries. / BOSTON. / Gilman Joslin, / 1860." The condition of this globe is excellent, and it is easy to read. The globe is set on its meridian and can be viewed from both sides of the case. The time dial is mounted around the circumference of this globe along the equator. The time of the day is indicated by a brass arrow pointer mounted to the case. A second dial display is located in the lower section of the case. This lower paper dial is a minute display, and it also rotates. It makes one full revolution per hour. An alcohol Fahrenheit scale thermometer is mounted in front of this minute dial. This is an unusual feature for this manufacturer. The temperature standards of “FREEZING, SUMR HEAT” and “FEVER HEAT” are indicated. The movement for this clock is located behind this dial and the thermometer at the bottom of the case. It is brass construction and designed to run for eight days on a full wind. It features a balance wheel escapement and is wound from the back of the case with a key.

The approximate dimensions of this case are as follows: 23.5 inches tall, 13.75 wide at the lower base molding, and 6.5 inches deep. This clock was made circa 1865.


About Theodore Ruggles Timby of Saratoga Springs, New York.

The Timby Solar Timepiece. Lewis E. Whiting, a local jeweler who is listed as working within the period of the 1860s. During that time, he worked with an ingenious designer named Theodore Ruggles Timby. A company was formed in 1863 and lasted only two short years (1865). Based on the surviving production, it is thought that they sold approximately 600 of these unusual clocks in total. The cases were fitted with spring-powered 8-day brass movement that featured balance wheel escapements. A small number of these were made in Saratoga by either E. F. Rawson. The vast majority of the clocks have movements made by LaPort Hubbell. Inside many of the cases of these very unusual clocks, usually attached to the back of the lower door, is a label that reads: “TIMBY’S SOLAR TIMEPIECE, MANUFACTURED BY L. E. WHITING, SARATOGA SPRINGS, N. Y.” It then describes the clock as, “Illustrating the Diurnal Revolution of the Earth, and serving as a GEOGRAPHICAL EDUCATOR for the SCHOOL ROOM and the Family, Ornamental in the Parlor, and useful everywhere. The old and unmeaning clock face may now be banished from use as no longer desirable. The movements in these Time – pieces is the best ever made in America, and unsurpassed in Europe; the balance wheel is set in jewels, making it as a time – keeper equal to the best lever watch and regulated in the same way. WIND ONCE A WEEK REGULARLY. WARRANTED accurate and of perfect workmanship throughout.” This label is often numbered in ink. The highest number I have recorded to date is “497.”

Theodore Ruggles Timby was born in New York State on April 5th, 1822. He was a very bright and industrious person and is credited with a number of inventions. He designed a floating dry dock system for the shipping industry. He also designed a revolving gun turret, which was installed on the Union’s ironclad, the U.S.S. Monitor. He also designed a sighting system and electrical firing system for heavy guns. Timby died in Brooklyn, New York, in 1909.

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