11 MARCH 1922, Page 20


THE skilled craftsmen of long ago, who made the grandfather clocks that keep time, year in and year out, and give no trouble, deserve to be remembered. We are glad to call attention to a most interesting book by Mr. John Smith, an Edinburgh antiquary, on Old Scottish Clocicmakers from 1453 to 1850 (Edin- burgh: Oliver and Boyd, 24s. net), which contains a mass of information, admirably arranged and well illustrated. It is cast in the form of a biographical dictionary, and notices relating to clockmaking in the chief towns are given under the towns in their alphabetical order, but in the same list. Mr. Smith has searched the newspaper files and the printed burgh records, but he has been much assisted by the fact that clockmakers were gradually recognized as locksmiths and admitted in that capacity to the ancient Incorporations of Hammermen, whose' archives are carefully preserved. The Aberdeen records from - 1453 onwards refer to the keeping of the " inlage " (horloge) or " knok " on the Tolbooth. Clockmakers were few in Scotland until the seventeenth century, and James L's clockmaker, David Ramsay, who appears in The Fortunes of Nigel, is said to have been the first Scotsman to make a watch. Of him and - of the Roumieus of Edinburgh and other celebrated makers, Mr. Smith has much to say. In the days of George III. Fife produced three very skilful clockmakers, Thomas Reid of•

Dysart and Edinburgh, Matthew Parker of Dunfermline, and John Smith of Pittenweem. Smith excelled in the Construction of elaborate musical clocks with moving figures, after the old Nuremberg fashion. One of these, now preserved in Dalkeith Palace, plays eight tunes—for six days in the week, but not on Sundays—while the lords of Session march past in pro- cession, with their mixer before them. Another of his clocks has on the dials landscapes by no less an artist than Alexander Nasmyth. There is no more picturesque a little town in all Scotland than Fittenweem, and it is pleasant to think of the master-craftsman working at his ingenious mechanisms in that quiet haven. It would be interesting to know who designed the clock-cases, which are nearly always dignified and sometimes most graceful and appropriate to their purpose. The local carpenter or cabinet-maker probably took a greater pride in his work in those far-off days than he does now, because his skill brought a direct reward in the admiring approval of his customers.