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Time for some clock trivia

January 03, 2009|By ROSEMARY SADEZ FRIEDMANN / Scripps Howard News Service

Trivia question: What was the original name of the grandfather clock? Give up? Back in the 17th century, it was called the tall case clock. Not until 1875, when a song titled "My Grandfather's Clock" became popular, did the current name take over.

Here's another question. What is different about the Roman numeral VI on all but the most recent grandfather clocks? Tick, tock, tick, tock ... OK, time's up. The answer is that the VI on the older clocks is placed upside down.

One more question. How was the number 4 depicted on the face of the older clocks? Today we know it is the numeral IV, but back before 1850 it was printed as IIII.

In 1809, Simon Willard made a clock that resembled a banjo. Because of its shape, it has always been known as the banjo clock. There aren't many around that are the real McCoy, as there were mercenaries then as there are now and many of these "authentic" banjo clocks with the "Simon Willard" on them aren't actually genuine at all. The authenticity would have to be determined by a professional.

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The largest cuckoo clock in the world is in Amish country in Ohio, but the original cuckoo clocks were made in Switzerland and Bavaria in 1730. And there really is a hickory dickory dock clock where a mouse indicates the time.

Ever heard of a wag-on-the-wall clock? The weight and pendulum dangle and wag un-encased, hence the wag-on-the-wall. There are many of these clocks still made today, though their original name is no longer in vogue.

Write to Rosemary at DsgnQuest@aol.com.

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