Wake-up call

In an attempt to distract myself from the heat over here (I know at least half of the world is laughing at the UK’s idea of a heatwave, but believe me, it’s more than hot enough for me), I’ve been reading about the history of alarm clocks. This came about when I needed an alarm clock to feature in a Regency piece I’m working on, and realised I knew nothing about how they looked at that time.

I’d always assumed that alarm clocks dated back to the first mechanical clocks, and over the years it’s occasionally occurred to me to wonder just how people before that roused at a certain time. I hadn’t realised, however, that alarm clocks go back at least as far as Plato, who apparently had an alarm of some sort rigged to his water clock.

Interesting though all that was, there was one clock I stumbled upon that instantly assured itself of a starring role in my story – it’s this one:Ambrose's alarm clockWhen the timer gives the signal, a flint strikes a metal plate, causing sparks, which light powder. This ignited powder lights the candle, which is then lifted into place so it stands vertical. Oh, and the sound that this process makes? It’s like the shot from a gun.

Apart from the cases of heart failure it probably caused, the idea is brilliant. No more fumbling around in the dark for the means to light a candle. So of course, the rakish duke, who will not exert himself for anything except pleasure, has to have one of these. Whether Our Hero survives being woken in such a way is, of course, another matter entirely.

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2 Responses to Wake-up call

  1. Anna Butler says:

    Oh, the *delights*of research! What a great post. It lightened my hot and humid evening, too.

  2. Research is fantastic, isn’t it? You never know just what you might stumble upon! I’m glad I could help with the heat.

    I could do with an alarm clock like this – the snooze button is simultaneously the best and the worst thing ever invented.

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