Timby Solar Timepiece mantel clock. Saratoga Springs and Baldwinsville, New York. Theodore Ruggles Timby.

This is a very interesting mantel clock and always attracts a lot of attention in our shop. This case is constructed in walnut and has been refinished in the last fifty years. The clean surface and a warm. The case design is decorated with shapely moldings and three distinctive finials. Two of which are located at the sides of the clock. They hang down and are in the form of acorns. The third finial is mounted at the top the case. The shapely break arch molding centers it. It is supported by a decorative turning. The lower section of which is gilt. This detail must represent the sun as is shines over the earth or globe. The Globe features the Joslin Label. It reads, "Joslin's Six Inch Terrestrial Globe, Containing The Latest Discoveries. Boston. Gilman Joslin, 1860." The condition of this globe is the best I have seen. It is clear and readable. When this clock is in operation, the globe actually rotates one full turn every twenty-four hours. Above this is the clocks primary dial. It is paper and applied to a ring that is affixed to the outside of the globe. The hours are indicated in Arabic numerals. The minutes are divided into ten minutes increments. All of which is in excellent original condition. A brass pointer in the form of an arrow is located at the center of the opening. This indicates the time. A lower dial or minute wheel is located behind the glass in the lower door. It is also paper and is original to this clock. This door opens from the top and falls forward. Many of these clocks are fitted with labels that are numbered. This example does not retain one. It is thought that approximately 600 of these clocks were made. To my knowledge, a number of over 600 has not yet been discovered.

The movement for this clock is located in the bottom of the case. It is brass and designed to run eight days on a full wind. It features a balance wheel escapement that is jeweled and is wound from the back of the case. This movement was most likely made by LaPorte Hubbell.

The dimensions of this case are as follows: 27 inches tall, 13.75 wide at the lower base molding and 5.25 inches deep.

A small number of these globe clocks surface in the public marketplace from year to year. Several are pictured in the horological literature. A similar example is pictured on page 174 in Lester Dworetsky and Robert Dickstein's "Horology Americana." One is on display at the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, Connecticut.

A similar example is pictured on page 174 in Lester Dworetsky and Robert Dickstein's "Horology Americana." There is one on page 137 in "An Empire in Time. Clocks and Clockmakers of Upstate New York." This book is written by G. Russell Oechsle, Helen Boyce and Collaborators.

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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