Title: Tall-Case Astronomical Musical Clock
Artist: David Rittenhouse (1732-1796)
Creation Date: c. 1773
Origin: Philadelphia, PA
Medium: Mahogany, white cedar, poplar, oak, brass, silver
This is the David Rittenhouse Astronomical Musical Clock with Chinese Chippendale mahogany case, one of The Drexel Collection’s most prized objects. The Philadelphia Astronomical Society published the book by Ron Hoppes titled “The Most Important Clock in America: The David Rittenhouse Astronomical Musical Clock at Drexel University”. Why is this clock so important you might ask? David Rittenhouse was a renowned Pennsylvania astronomer and instrument maker who designed and built the clock in 1773. He was also a friend of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. The clock tells the time, month and day, location of planets, tracks several esoteric astronomical phenomena, and plays 10 different tunes on its chimes. On the top of the clock, there are six tiny planets that orbit the sun (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto had yet to be discovered). It is also outlined with the names of zodiac constellations, and just by looking at the face of the clock you are able to tell where to look for a particular planet that night. The clock is just about in complete original condition. In 1879, we know that George W. Childs purchased the clock, and it was given to Drexel Institute by his widow in 1894. To learn more, watch the video on the clock's restoration and visit the Picture Gallery to see the newly installed interactive about the clock!