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Topic: Were there clocks in Middle-earth?

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Date: Sep 26, 2006
Were there clocks in Middle-earth?

Here follws a quote from The Hobbit:


"Dear me!" grumbled the hobbit. "More walking and more climbing without breakfast! I wonder how many breakfasts, and other meals, we have missed inside that nasty clockless, timeless hole?"


Now I did not know that clocks existed in Arda. That is quite revolutionary technology. What are your thoughts on this?



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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Date: Sep 27, 2006
I think clockless is meant only as a synonim for timeless here.
And remember, the Hobbit was written in a very different style, unlike LOTR.
I don't think that any clocks existed...
Of course day and night are easy to keep track of, but times of day are not measured in hours. There is of course afternoon, or noon, or evening...all depending on how high the sun is.
And for the hobbits, I'd say that they measured the time of day depending on eating...breakfast, and supper, and all the other many meals they had

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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I understand your point Tm, but the fact remains that if clocks did not exist in ME then why would Bilbo say 'clockless'?


"Well, the Road wont sweep me anywhere for an hour at least, said Pippin, unslinging his pack."


"O Fair Folk! This is good fortune beyond my hope, said Pippin. Sam was speechless. I thank you indeed, Gildor Inglorion, said Frodo bowing. Elen sla lmenn omentielvo, a star shines on the hour of our meeting, he added in the high-elven speech."



"The answer to the second question, said Merry, is that we could get off in an hour."



"He felt a compelling desire for cool water. Wait for me, Sam, he stammered. Must bathe feet a minute."



"Wait a minute! cried Sam, struck by an idea suggested by firewood. We might do something with fire!"



"My dear Gandalf! Half a minute! cried Frodo, running out of the room to the door."


 


No you wont, I said. Youll go back where you belong, double quick. I give you one minute before I call all my dogs.


 


"Ah! but wait a minute! I was going to say: after a bit of supper, Ill gel out a small waggon, and Ill drive you all to the Ferry."



All quotes above from Lord of the Rings (and only a few at that)


 


So as you see that the poples of ME used hours by there reckoning and even used minutes so there must be a form of telling the time other than the sun if they use such a fine scale as minutes.



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My Master Sauron the Great bids thee Welcome....
Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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Date: Sep 27, 2006
the system of hours and minutes was introduced quite recently, so it doesn't make much sense for Tolkien to use these words
but indeed he does, so probably he didn't want to make up a different, new system for measuring time in Arda

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Fundin, Lord of Moria - Rank 5
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Date: Nov 14, 2006

In A Long-Expected Party Bilbo was just about to set his envelope 'by the clock' (after Gandalf told him to put it on the mantelpiece).


 


 



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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very good find in my opinion, a small detail that seems to clear up the matter...
perhaps Tolkien thought that creating a totally different time measuring system would be too challenging and perhaps using other unites thatn hours or minutes would confuse readers

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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Yes very good Galin. You seem to have a nac of finding small very hard to find quotes with are very important.


Perhaps Tolkien thought that Clocks, not having electricity, would be tolerable in his myth.



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Witchking of Angmar - Rank 10
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I would personally be curious to know who exactly in ME makes the clocks...
I immediately exclude the Elves, as for them time is not worth measuring
now, considering the craftsmanship needed to create such intricate and precise devices I would think about the Dwarves, but I doubt they would care very much about the passing of time in their mansions under the earth
Men...could be a possibility, though I doubt it, considering that the clock was in the hole of a hobbit
so in the end, I personally would say the only logical explanation is that the hobbits themselves make the clocks
it makes sense, as they are probably the folk in ME for which the different periods of a day have the greatest importance, as shown by the many, clearly well established meals listed by the hobbits in LOTR
exactly how they made the clocks, and exactly how they functioned are details we will never know, still I would not be surprised if there wasn't a family in the Shire called Clockmaker

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Hobbit youth - Rank 2
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Yes, an interesting and important clue in THE HOBBIT is the mention of the clock on the mantelpiece. It speaks volumes as to the level of technology and the social fabric of The Shire at that time! In particular... it was not a free standing weight-driven pendulum clock (which date to much earlier) but a mantle clock, indicating that there must exist a mainspring... implying rather sophisticated metal work... far beyond what is needed for weapons.

The second important clue is Bilbo sitting on his stoop reading his morning letters. The simple fact of routine mail deliveries implies a very complex social network and the operation of some level of organized infrastructure. It also implies a standardization of weights and measures, and some standardized form of currency and payment, possibly including postage stamps.

Taken together these indications would put The Shire at a technical/social level analagous to somewhere in the early 1700s in England, half a century or so before the invention of the steam engine. But in Tolkien's Shire the society appears to be more or less static with regard to innovations and inventions.

Be Your Best!

Will

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Samwise Gamgee - rank 9
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It is entiely possible that the clock was a mistake by Tolkien. When writing The Hobbit he didn't have a deep lore orientated drive, it was just a bit of light-hearted tale-telling. Also, I believe the clock was left out of some illustrations for this reason.

Food for thought.

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Hobbit youth - Rank 2
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Mistake? MISTAKE? Are you suggesting that The Professor himself could make a mistake? Gasp! Choke! Wheeze! Cough Cough! I would sooner smoke pipeweed from Southlinch, drink a red wine with fish, or turn my nose up at Farmer Maggot's mushrooms simmered in fresh churned butter than to think, for even one moment, that even a single word of the sacred canonical lore could be in error! The clock is a key piece of information that tells us so much about The Shire. Leaving it out of illustrations is (in my humble opinion) simply a case in which the artists didn't know enough about clocks to choose the appropriate style and period and so they avoided the issue rather than doing the research.

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Just a small thought on the matter, would it be entirely unrealistic to suppose that sundials might of been around? Technologically they wouldnt be too advanced so I suppose its possible for there existance. I doubt the quote is refering to one, but it might be possible.

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A lord of wisdom throned he sat,
swift in anger, quick to laugh;
an old man in a battered hat
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He stood upon the bridge alone
and Fire and Shadow both defied;
his staff was broken on the stone,
in Khazad-dm his wisdom died.
Thorin Oakenshield - Rank 6
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Interesting idea Mithrandir. Never given that any thought.

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Lord Elrond of Rivendell - Rank 9
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This is from the place where Gandalf persuades Bilbo to leave The Ring to Frodo. I share it because there is a mention of a clock a mantelpiece one at that!

As for Bilbo Baggins, even while he was making his speech, he had been fingering the golden ring in his pocket: his magic ring that he had kept secret for so many years. As he stepped down he slipped it on his finger, and he was never seen by any hobbit in Hobbiton again.
He walked briskly back to his hole, and stood for a moment listening with a smile to the din in the pavilion and to the sounds of merrymaking in other parts of the field. Then he went in. He took off his party clothes, folded up and wrapped in tissue-paper his embroidered silk waistcoat, and put it away. Then he put on quickly some old untidy garments, and fastened round his waist a worn leather belt. On it he hung a short sword in a battered black-leather scabbard. From a locked drawer, smelling of moth-balls, he took out an old cloak and hood. They had been locked up as if they were very precious, but they were so patched and weatherstained that their original colour could hardly be guessed: it might have been dark green. They were rather too large for him. He then went into his study, and from a large strong-box took out a bundle wrapped in old cloths, and a leather-bound manuscript; and also a large bulky envelope. The book and bundle he stuffed into the top of a heavy bag that was standing there, already nearly full. Into the envelope he slipped his golden ring, and its fine chain, and then sealed it, and addressed it to Frodo. At first he put it on the mantelpiece, but suddenly he removed it and stuck it in his pocket. At that moment the door opened and Gandalf came quickly in
Here there is a discussion of Bilbo leaving behind things to Frodo and of Bilbos health and his leaving the Ring behind

Well, Ive made up my mind, anyway. I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains, and then find somewhere where I can rest. In peace and quiet, without a lot of relatives prying around, and a string of confounded visitors hanging on the bell. I might find somewhere where I can finish my book. I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days.
Gandalf laughed. I hope he will. But nobody will read the book, however it ends.
Oh, they may, in years to come. Frodo has read some already, as far as it has gone. Youll keep an eye on Frodo, wont you?
Yes, I will - two eyes, as often as I can spare them.
He would come with me, of course, if I asked him. In fact he offered to once, just before the party. But he does not really want to, yet. I want to see the wild country again before I die, and the Mountains; but he is still in love with the Shire, with woods and fields and little rivers. He ought to be comfortable here. I am leaving everything to him, of course, except a few oddments. I hope he will be happy, when he gets used to being on his own. Its time he was his own master now.

Then comes the strange discussion about leaving the Ring to Frodo ~ a rather bizarre and heated discussion eventually Bilbo comes to his senses and agrees to leave the Ring to Frodo

Bilbo stood for a moment tense and undecided. Presently he sighed. All right, he said with an effort. 'I will. Then he shrugged his shoulders, and smiled rather ruefully. After all thats what this party business was all about, really: to give away lots of birthday presents, and somehow make it easier to give it away at the same time. It hasnt made it any easier in the end, but it would be a pity to waste all my preparations. It would quite spoil the joke.
Indeed it would take away the only point I ever saw in the affair, said Gandalf.
Very well, said Bilbo, it goes to Frodo with all the rest. He drew a deep breath. And now I really must be starting, or somebody else will catch me. I have said good-bye, and I couldnt bear to do it all over again. He picked up his bag and moved to the door.
You have still got the ring in your pocket, said the wizard. Well, so I have! cried Bilbo. And my will and all the other documents too. You had better take it and deliver it for me. That will be safest.
No, dont give the ring to me, said Gandalf. Put it on the mantelpiece. It will be safe enough there, till Frodo comes. I shall wait for him.
Bilbo took out the envelope, but just as he was about to set it by the clock, his hand jerked back, and the packet fell on the floor. Before he could pick it up, the wizard stooped and seized it and set it in its place. A spasm of anger passed swiftly over the hobbits face again. Suddenly it gave way to a look of relief and a laugh. Well, thats that, he said. Now Im off! (The Lord Of The Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Chapter I ~ A Long-Expected Party, pgs 34-35)

This is the only sure mention of a clock I could find
Im not sure but I think there was a mention of keeping time in Bree
And while Pippin was in Minas Tirith there was mention of his standing watch and times he was on duty
I could find no mention at any time keeping device at any Elven conclave or abode


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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Your mention of Bree and time keeping was correct, Bear. After reading the chapter "At The Sign Of The Prancing Pony" I managed to find 3 references to time keeping, the last one definably suggesting the usage of clocks.

A direct mention of time happened as Frodo and company entered the Inn:

"They led their ponies under the arch, and leaving them standing in the yard they climbed up the steps. Frodo went forward and nearly bumped into a short fat man with a bald head and a red face. He had a white apron on, and was bustling out of one door and in through another, carrying a tray laden with full mugs.
''Can we--" began Frodo.
'Half a minute, if you please!' shouted the man over his shoulder, and vanished into a babel of voices and a cloud of smoke."

The next one occurs a little latter in the Inn:

"So refreshed and encouraged did they feel at the end of their supper (about three quarters of an hour's steady going, not hindered by unnecessary talk) that Frodo, Pippin, and Sam decided to join the company.

Finally this last reference definitely suggests the usage of clocks. It occurs at the vary end of the chapter:

"I shan't be doing anything of the sort again, Mr. Butterbur, I promise you. And now I think I'll be getting to bed. We shall be making an early start. Will you see that our ponies are ready by eight o'clock"

How else would they have known when it was eight o'clock if they did not have any clocks?
Just thought I'd point those instances out.

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A lord of wisdom throned he sat,
swift in anger, quick to laugh;
an old man in a battered hat
who leaned upon a thorny staff.

He stood upon the bridge alone
and Fire and Shadow both defied;
his staff was broken on the stone,
in Khazad-dm his wisdom died.
 
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