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The Uneasy Authority of Clocks and Watches in Antebellum America

(p.41) Chapter 2 Clockwatching
Marking Modern Times
Alexis McCrossen
University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses how “lovers of correct time” supported the installation of more clocks and bells in American cities, the founding of astronomical observatories, the efforts of the U.S. government to provide accurate time using its own observatory and a relatively-new device called “time ball,” and the manufacture and distribution of inexpensive household clocks and pocket watches. It also describes this particular time during the nineteenth century as the period in which both public and private timepieces accumulated. It explores the absence of synchronicity, the distrust which was generated, and the concomitant efforts to secure standard time.

Keywords:   time, standard time, time ball, clocks, pocket watches, bells

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