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Clocks Magazine Editorial January 2016
Editor of Clocks Magazine By the time you read this it will be 2016, the beginning of the New Year, but now, as I write, Christmas is fast approaching. It is a busy season for us. Many people purchase gift subscriptions for their loved-ones at this time. Many more buy our beginner’s guides. It is very heartening to see how interest in horology is being maintained. It has long been a worry, often expressed in these pages, that as the present generation of horologists retires there will be no-one to replace them. Well from where I stand now, I can see plenty of new faces. Long may the process continue!

On another matter entirely, I picked up a book recently in a charity shop, the autobiogaphy of Thomas Bewick, an artist well known for his engravings of birds, animals and rural scenes. It has long been known that Bewick was apprenticed to Ralph Beilby, in whose business he later became a partner.

The name Beilby is well known in north of England horology. Beilby and Hawthorne clocks dials are often encountered, and Ralph Beilby was indeed an engraver of items including clock dials.

In horological research, it is relatively easy to find information such as names, dates, apprenticeship details etc. It is much harder—often impossible—to establish any realistic impression of what the people concerned were like to work with and to be with.

From Bewick, however, we get a little more information about the Beilbys. Ralph, for example, ‘had laid down plans for the regulation of his own conduct through life, begun with me upon a system of rigid discipline, from which he never varied or relaxed’. In other words, he was a disciplinarian.

Elsewhere we find that after an initial stint, Bewick was never given a drawing lesson from anyone, not even ‘from William Beilby and his brother Thomas, who ... were also drawing masters’. Perhaps he was considered talented enough to get by on his own without further instruction.

Unfortunately he nowhere mentions doing any work on clock dials!

John Hunter, Editor
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