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C. Huygens. Horologium Oscillatorium, 1673

The Vail Collection is home to a number of books on horology and the making of clocks. Some of these works discuss electric clocks, bridging the gap between electricity – the dominant subject area of the collection – and what seems like an outlying topic.

P. Le Roy. Memoire sur l’horlogerie, 1750



At the same time, most of these books address the techniques and advances of traditional mechanical clock making. Christiaan Huygens, for example, invented the pendulum clock. The Vail Collection has the first edition of his Horologium Oscillatorium, his definitive work on the mathematics of pendulums.

Pierre Le Roy, whose innovations paved the way for the modern chronometer, is also represented. Laid into the Vail copy of his Memoire sur l’Horlogerie is a print illustrating the movement of a pocket watch. According to an inscription on the back, the owner of this print received it in Stockholm from Pehr Wilhelm Wargentin, secretary of the Royal Academy of Sciences, on January 14, 1763. The pocket watch was, according to the original recipient, “much esteemed at Stockholm.”

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