The Engle Clock at the National Watch and Clock Museum

The Engle Clock at the National Watch and Clock Museum

Postby koimaster » October 26th 2016, 3:35pm



Works in Progress; The Clock Strikes Back

By Bruce Weber

Published: August 6, 1989

IN ITS HEYDAY, THE ENGLE clock traveled the Eastern Seaboard, drawing the curious like a sideshow. Built over 20 years by a Pennsylvanian named Stephen Engle, the clock - 11 feet tall, with 48 moving figures, two organ movements that play at regular intervals and a tellurian, which maps the moon and stars -was completed in 1877. It was purchased by a Capt. and Mrs. Jacob Reid, who, recognizing a profit-making artifact, billed it as the eighth wonder of the world. (A period advertisement is at right. The people are not drawn to scale.) ''To show you how popular it was,'' says Thomas J. Bartels, ''in York, Pa., during a two-week period in January 1878, it drew 8,000 people paying a quarter apiece.''

Bartels, executive director of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Inc., a 33,000-member organization based in Columbia, Pa., is also director of its museum, which will unveil the restored clock on Sept. 16. The Engle, says Bartels, (above, with Pat Tomes, the museum curator), was ''the forefather of a whole genre of clocks'' meant to show off Yankee ingenuity and expressive of the American notion that ''bigger is better, more complicated is better.'' Exhibited regularly for decades, the clock disappeared in the early 1950's. It was not until 1983 that N.A.W.C.C. members located it, in decrepitude, in a barn in upstate New York. The museum acquired it last October.

''It was extremely well-made,'' Bartels says. ''Engle used his own alloy for cutting gears. Cleaned up, they look like the day they were made.'' The restoration, ''everything from replacing the bellows in the organ movements to replacing the gold leaf,'' has been performed largely by unpaid volunteers. How accurate is it as a timepiece? Well, Bartels says, ''its entertainment value was more important.'' -BRUCE WEBER


“Your heart was warm and happy

With the lilt of Irish laughter

Every day and in every way

Now forever and ever after."
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