Sometimes it's the unexpected things that bring the past into sharpest focus. I saw this elegant carriage clock on display last month at the Frick Collection in New York, and was immediately drawn into both its design, and its story. The clock was made by the father & son team of Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) and Antoine-Louis Breguet (1776-1858), and was purchased by General Henry William Paget, Earl of Uxbridge, later 1st Marquess of Anglesey (1768-1854) in 1813. Lord Uxbridge was a prominent British military leader, best remembered for leading a definitive cavalry charge against French troops at the Battle of Waterloo – and, of course, for one of the more striking portraits of the era, below.
As this short video about the clock shows, a Breguet timepiece like this carriage clock was not only an indispensable accessory for wealthy travelers (its features include an alarm clock!) but also a symbol of rank, wealth, and efficiency: all the generals on both sides of the Napoleonic wars carried Breguet watches. Technology aside, it's a breathtakingly beautiful work of art.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.