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June 07, 2010


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Michael Hoeflich

Al: I think that you are onto something. Don't forget that this is the period when popular magazines began to include illustrations to be removed and hung on the wall and, certainly, by the 1830s-1850s companies like N. Currier and Prang were selling engravings for the same purpose. I also seem to recall that it is during the later antebellum period when pocket watches gain popularity, something I suspect might well be connected to increasing travel by canal, and, of course, by RR. My reading of antebellum lawyer diaries makes me think that there was a growing sense of the importance of time-keeping. I feel fairly sure that someone's written a book on time-keeping during this period. I'll look in my library to see if I can find it.

By the way, did CUP send you a personal copy of my new book? I've just received copies to send out and you're at the top of the list if you haven't been sent one already.

Alfred Brophy

Thanks for the comments, Mike. This reminds me of one of my favorite antebellum quotes, something to the effect of people know more about the mechanisms of their watches than the workings of their minds. (Though I think that was a modification of another phrase, something like, people don't know how their minds or their watches work!)

The controversy about the mantle clocks in Evans' photos relates to stuff in the 1930s, of course. Seems to me to be reasonable to think that humble folks, like sharecroppers, might have had one prized possession -- a clock -- that they displayed on the mantle. The photo of the Centenary Institute house is not so humble as the sharecroppers' houses, of course. But it's further testimony of the centrality of clocks and of where Alabamians chose to put the clocks.

I do have a copy of Legal Publishing in Early America; it occupies a prominent place on my bookshelf at home. I blogged about it here:

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