Collections

Clocks

The collection of clocks was created mainly because of the fact that in 1973 our museum had received a private collection of a famous Kraków collector - Wladyslaw Miodonski (1898 - 1972). He used to collect clocks for a half of a century and his collection contained 198 clocks from which 50 were incomplete. Without any professional skills in recognition and appraisal of clocks, he used to choose them according to aesthetic values. A decision whether to add one to his collection was not based on the clock's mechanical valour but rather because of its' design. It was the main criterion of creating the collection. After his death, his heirs donated a part of the collection to the museum and sold the remaining ones off.
At the current moment, there are 263 clocks in the collection. It contains clocks from Poland, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Netherlands and Hungary. These are house clocks, table clocks, fireplace clocks as well as wall, furniture (floor) and pocket clocks. The oldest date back to 12th century and go all the way to the 1950's.
The oldest clock in the collection of Wladyslaw Miodonski and the oldest in the museum's collection as well is the table clock called turret. The Augsburg watchmaker made this one in approximately 1600. It is made from engraved and gilt bronze. It looks like a square turret on the sectional pedestal with four legs.
The youngest exhibits in the collection are two clocks from the 20th century. They were bought by the museum. The first one, bought in 1985 is called "Atmos". This clock has automatic temperature - pressure spring with the hanging balance controller and it does not have to be wound up. The first "Atmos" was created in 1926 by Swiss engineer J. L. Reutter. This one in Kraków is the 4408 copy created by this clockmaker. It is even more valuable because of the fact this one used to stand on the shop window of famous Kraków's watchmaker - Josef Cyjankiewicz at 3 Slawkowska street.
In 1988, a Polish table clock with a once-a-year wound movement was bought. This one is being propelled by the spring and it has to be wind up just once a year. The controller is the hanging balance that is swinging around the horizontal axis. In spite of the fact that it does not look like as good as these ones made abroad (mainly in Germany after the war) it is very notable. It is a unique example of Polish wound once a year clocks that were made in the years of 1949 to 1956 in Lower Silesian Clocks' Manufacture in Swiebodzice.
The range of time that these clocks were made makes for the easy differentiation of them by appearance and style as well as their technical aspects. The movements of house clocks were enclosed in cases made from gild bronze, wood, marble, and a connection of wood and alabaster. Very often, they were inlaid with the nacre or engraved. Many inventive art solutions were used.
It was very similar with the small pocket watches. They used to have cases made from gold, silver or brass. These are beautiful works of craftsmen - artists. The works of these watches used to have embossed, open-works bridges called "kok" covering thread balance.
In the group of Polish clocks worth mentioning is the pocket watch from 1750 -1760. It was made by Johanna Nicolausa Delle from Gdansk. It has a silver, opened case and silver partially openwork, ornamented holder. It also has an amazing silver face made according to the technique called chapleted.
There are also two horizontal table clocks called "tiles" because their casket shaped case made from gild bronze. These look like a beautiful tile on legs. Both are signed. The first one is by Michael Wagner from Wroclaw (approx. 1700 year.) and the other by Jacob Lichte from Kraków (80's of the 18th cent.)
Very rare in the museums' collection is the wall clock in type of cartel. This one has rococo's engraved in gild wood case, made in the workshop of the most famous of Kraków's watchmakers in the second half of the 18th century - Jan Gotfryd Krosz. Very interesting is the case of clock's work made by Michael Zabydrowic from Bochnia in 1791. It has a shape of Hungarian hussar and it's made from wood.
There are also two clocks manufactured in the 1850's - 1860's. Both are called second's controller. These are in the remarkable elegant wooden cases. Both are as prestigious as English or Viennese clocks of this type. The first of these is the floor timer made in workshop of Karol Kremer in Warsaw, and the second, is the wall timer of Jan Pilecki from Kraków.
In the group of European clocks, most of them come from France and Austria. These are usually fireplace clocks from the classic period, empire, biedermeier, it means from the second half of the 18th and the first half of the 19th century. All have form of aedicule, portal, pylon or colonnade.
On the other hand, clocks manufactured in the historic period of the second half of the 19th century, used to have(very fashionable at the time)shape of historic figures (Decjusz Mus, Napoleon) and mythological figures (Ceres, Leda, Apollo, Safo, Chronos-Time).
There were also scenes like with miller, hunter, a poet or woman in the sedan-chair. The most beautiful clocks however, are gathered in rooms on the first floor of the Hipolits' tenement. The atmosphere there seems to remind us of the one of private collectors. It will surely make you think about the past and the time going by.