A book entitled George Nelson in the Compact Design Portfolio series succinctly summarizes its subject’s career in words and pictures. Original Nelson/Harper/Miller clocks are available from dealers who focus on vintage items. One of them, Evan Snyderman of R 20th Century ( / 212-343-7979), says prices range from less than $2,500 for the most common to the mid-five-figure range for rare ones.Read more »

The 3 Faces Of George Washington

How Mount Vernon Rebuilt The First President

What did George Washington really look like? We have a lot of familiar pictures of him, but they never quite agree with one another, and more were made when he was old than when he was young. So when the people who run Mount Vernon, Washington’s estate on the Potomac River in Virginia, wanted exact life-sized likenesses of him at the ages of 19, 45, and 57 for their new visitors’ center, they turned to the tools of forensic anthropology.Read more »

The Buyable Past

George Nelson Clocks

George Nelson said he got into furniture design by accident, and indeed the architect didn’t actually create many of the mid-twentieth-century modernist icons synonymous with his name. The bubble lamp, the coconut chair, the sling sofa, and others he’s commonly credited with were styled by associates in his New York City office. Read more »

History Now

The 3 Faces of George Washington The Buyable Past Resources The Gettysburg Gospen

They Didn’t Know What Time It Was

On November 18, 1883, the nation finally settled on the method of synchronizing all clocks that we call standard time. Why did it take so long to figure that one out?

THROUGHOUT MOST of the last century, very few Americans could agree on the time of day. Every town kept its own time. A pocket diary for the year 1873 contains two tables, one showing the difference in time between Boston and other cities, the second giving the time in other cities when it was noon in New York. With a little calculating, a Boston salesman bound for St.Read more »

Past Time



To its owners it was “The Eighth Wonder of the World … The Acme of Mechanical Science,” and even if those claims seem a little inflated, the Great Historical Clock is undeniably a wonder. It was built by Roland Hurlburt, a Boston carpenter who apparently was enchanted by a similar monumental clock he saw at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. Working with his son, he completed it around 1884, and probably exhibited it at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.Read more »

The Great Detroit Clock

There seems to be a paucity of ingenious Bicentennial projects, especially compared to the ones that flourished during the 1816 Centennial. Consider, for instance, Felix Meier, a Detroit clockmaker who, imbued with the spirit of the time, produced this masterpiece. He spent ten years constructing his clock, which stood eighteen feet high and weighed two tons. It indicated the time in thirteen cities, as well as the day, month, season, the signs of the zodiac, and the revolutions of the planets around the sun.Read more »