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Orologi da torre : MAT, Museo arte tempo di Clusone

by Marisa Addomine; Daniele Pons;

  Print book

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A Museum Catalog of Italian Tower Clocks   (2012-10-18)

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A Museum Catalog of Italian Tower Clocks


Orologi da Torre – MAT Museo Arte Tempo di Clusone.  By Marisa Adomine & Daniele Pons. Bi-lingual Italian/English edition. Eglish translation by Chris McKay.  ISBN 978-88-6130-947-0.  Softcover, 141 pages, copiously illustrated.  24x17 cm. Includes glossary and bibliography.  Published by Skira, Milano, 2009.  Available through the publisher’s website <a href=""></a> for Euro 20.- plus postage.


Given the great debt horology owes to Italy as the probable cradle of mechanical clockmaking it is unfortunate how little most non-Italian clock enthusiasts know about the history of clockmaking in Italy.  That must be due in part on how little has been published about Italian clocks in English:  Other than books on Giovanni da Dondi, John Leopold’s publication of the Almanus Manuscript, and a few scattered articles by Silvio Bedini or Guiseppe Brusa not much has appeared in print. 


Fortunately there is a noteworthy recent exception to that pattern.  In recent years a group of tower clock afficionados in Italy, under the leadership of Dr. Marisa Addomine, has established a scholarly organisation called the ‘Registro Italiano Orologi da Torre”, and the same people have launched the ‘MAT - Museo Arte Tempo’, located in the Palazzo Marinoni Barca, in the city of Clusone.  Suprisingly, but to be applauded, the first publication of this young museum, its catalog was published in a bilingual Italian/English edition.


The core of this book is a comprehensive catalog of the 58 tower clocks at the MAT-Museum.  Each clock is described on one full page, with the header noting the maker, the location (provenance), the era, cage dimensions, overall dimensions, and inventory number.  Each entry includes a good-size color photograph of the clock movement covering nearly half the page, and the rest is taken up by short technical descriptions of the movements in Italian and in English.  The catalog is in roughly chronological order, with 12 pieces from the 17<sup>th</sup>/18<sup>th</sup> centuries, 19 from the 19<sup>th</sup> century, and the remainder from the 20<sup>th</sup> century (primarily the pre world war I era).


In addition to the catalog the book contains four essays in Italian on tower clocks:

  • A short introduction to the history of clockmaking in general and specifically public clocks
  • A general introduction to escapements and  tower clock mechanics, with movement diagrams
  • An photo essay on the Italian tower clock factories of the 20<sup>th</sup> century
  • And last but not least an illustrated description of Clusone’s most famous – and recently recovered-  tower clock, the 1583 astronomical clock by Pietro Fanzago for which  detailed documentary evidence from the time of its creation still exists.


While the non-Italian speaker may struggle with the text of these essays he/she will still get much out of the illustrations.  This new horological book is exactly the kind of multilingual documentary evidence that local and relatively obscure museums in our field should publish to further a crosscultural look at our horological heritage. This reviewer hopes more museums around the globe will follow the example set by Dr.Addomine and her fellow Italian tower clock fans.


Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, Sussex NJ, USA (May 2010)

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