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  Reader's letter | November 2003 | Clocks Magazine

Mosque clocks

On a recent visit to Turkey I was interested to see some English clocks in an unexpected situation.

During visits to mosques one usually observes a clock: punctuality of time at the mosque is of importance. It is nowadays usually a standard quartz wall clock or in the poorer districts an old mass-produced German pendulum wall clock.

This month I happened to be in Konya in central/southern Turkey where there is a mosque which contains the Mevlana Mausoleum, the burial place of the philosopher poet Celaleddin Rumi. I found there no fewer than four clocks: two longcases which were by the same London maker, one table clock, probably English, and the fourth a Comtoise longcase. There was also a sundial dated 1797. Obviously timekeeping was once important! However, today although a site of Muslim pilgrimage, the mosque is no longer used for formal prayer and none of the clocks was going and the sundial was without its gnomon, so that wasn’t going either!

The two longcase clocks were virtually identical: mahogany cases, pagoda-topped, two-train and brass dialled with chapter rings engraved for the Turkish market. Both bore the maker’s name ‘Jourdain, London’. Both had arched dials with a cartouche in the arch engraved in Arabic. The hands of both clocks were C&W pattern 27. Their appearance led me to date the clocks to the last years of the 18th century. The cases were dusty, cracked and in need of restoration. The silvered chapter rings were blackened. I attach some photographs which may be of interest. On consulting Britten, I find an A Jourdain in Spitalfields in the 1790s - possibly our man?

The magnificent three-train table clock, also in mahogany with a pagoda top was, unfortunately, actually within the railed-off shrine of the saint and it would have been very impolite to impose my photographic needs and to intrude upon the pilgrims who were gathered closely round. I managed one shot with a telephoto lens, but was unable to get close enough to read the maker’s name.

The fourth clock was a straightforward Comtoise, with enamelled white dial bearing the Turkish retailer’s name ‘P Seferiadi, Smirne’.

I thought readers may be interested in this small quality collection in an unusual place.

D W Ross, UK

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