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[Tidbits] Life before Bulova?


Life before Bulova?

You don’t know what to get him or her for his or her birthday. Or
perhaps you want to get your significant other a little trinket to
show you understand the trials and tribulations he/she had undergone
over the years on your behalf. Or perhaps you want to give your mate
a little doo-dad for that incredible little stint last night which
defied all laws of acrobatic physics. Whatever the reason…you
decide…after much pondering…to get the very special person a
watch. It makes for a rather nice piece of jewelry…and you can get
one in gold or in platinum. With diamonds and without. In silver or
in base metal. In short… there’s one for every pocketbook. And
that’s how it is…and that’s how it always was…right? Well…

Today…as we rush for our transports…we check our watches.
Seventeen and a half minutes till the train comes in. It’s the
commuter ballet. Run to the deli…coffee…light…sweet and low.
Gotta watch the tummy…heh heh. Check again. Twelve more minutes
left. Time enough for a buttered roll? Sure. As long as that timepiece
is correct…and it better well be. You adjusted it last night.
According to your computer calculations…your recently calibrated
time-telling machine drifts thirty four and a half seconds every six
hundred years. Not as accurate as you’d like it to be…but in these
trying time…we do what little we can with what we have. You swallow
that last piece of roll and swish it all down with one last gulp of
coffee. The train’s pulling it. You jump on. The day begins.

But when watches and clocks were first invented…around the
fourteenth century…they were a tad less than accurate. Depending on
the time-piece you owned…the length of an hour could vary
considerably. So how did one calibrate…or at least check on one’s
timepiece in order to ensure that it was indeed the hour of the day it
said it was. Why…one used a sundial…of course. Now…there might
be some of you who might say…yeah yeah Benjamin…that’s all well
and good if you’re the Incredible Hulk and you can carry a sundial
mounted on a marble stand around with you all day. But what about the
average mortal…what about him? Well…I have the answer for that my
friends. And here it is.

Provided the sun was shining…an intrinsic necessity for the
operation of your everyday sundial…provided the sun was
shining…you could check your watch with your pocket sundial.
Yessiree folks. Step right up while the supply last. Get your pocket
sundial. Huzzah huzzah huzzah. Guaranteed to last while the sun doth

During the seventeenth and eighteenth century…pocket sundials were
sold as a more accurate way of telling time than the new and cheaper
line of watches. Of the pocket sundial…there were two that were
quite popular. One was called the Diptych. An Englishman by the name
of Michael Butterfield created one in silver…circa 1700. It was
housed in a case with silk-velvet lining and was whipped out
periodically and held up toward the sun in order to check to see if
they were late for the public hangings today. Never could count on
government to be on time.

And then there was something called a Ring Dial. It folded up and fit
into one’s pocket. When in use…it was opened…and held up to the
sun…which shone through a pinhole in the center strut on the hour
ring. They were made of brass or silver and were surprisingly
accurate. Also…if you’re a gizmo freak like me…you will note that
they were a beautiful site indeed to behold.

Should any of you want to behold a Ring Dial sundial of the late 17th
century…you have but to go to my home page…you have but to scroll
down the table menu till you get to Tidbit Graphics…and then you
have but to click on the link that says “Sundial”. And there ain’t no
more buts about it.

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark

TYLER-ADAM CORP.–Jewelry Manufacturers Tel: 1-800-20-TYLER
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