Thinking about all the things we have to time or wait for

Magnificent John Smith of Pittemweem clock
Magnificent John Smith of Pittemweem clock

One of the artefacts on display in the Queen’s Gallery Scottish Artist exhibition is this magnificent automaton and musical clock by John Smith of Pittenweem. it was exhibited in London in 1808 and put up for sale by lottery. The purchaser was not recorded but it was later acquired by William B Smith of Glasgow, exhibited in 1911 and purchased by the citizens of Glasgow in 1922. It was given to the then Duke of York (later King George VI) and Lady Elisabeth Bowes – Lyon (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother) on the occasion of their marriage.

Clock 2
Detail of one of the faces

When you think of all the the things we have to time from boiling an egg, to baking a cake, to taking a pulse and timing contractions, you have to be grateful for the invention of clocks.

Then you have to think about all the things we have to wait for – your birthday, the next post, the result of an exam, the birth of your baby and the reply from a literary agent who seems interested.

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