Time on your hands?

August 2, 2017

 Mantle Clock

c. 1885



The concept of time itself was radically changed during the Victorian Era. Before this period, most Americans were farmers. Time was judged by dawn, the noon sun and dusk. As the United States became more industrial, clocks became the standard for time. Towns and cities across the United States would set their clocks at noon based on when the sun was directly overhead. Confusion arose because the noon sun would be different in Cape May than it was in Philadelphia. The idea of a standardized time was first created by several railroad companies in 1883.


Victorians began to let standardized time rule their lives (a concept still prevalent today), even when it came to visiting friends or “calling.” In Rules of Etiquette & Home Culture (1893), the author stated that calls should be done between noon and 5 p.m.


The Physick family followed this trend. In fact, they had nine clocks in their home. This ornate mantle clock did belong to the Physick family. Oral tradition tells us that, upon Dr. Physick’s death, his aunt Emilie (the last surviving member of the family) actually had all of the clocks altered in the house so they would no longer chime.


Look for this clock on the mantle in the Music Room of the Physick Estate

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