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Volume VII, Number 4 | fall 2014


The duke of Milan, Azzo Visconti, commissioned a clock to be built in the campanile of San Gottardo; upon its completion in 1336 his secretary, Galvano Fiamma, wrote that the “admirable” timepiece had bells that struck “twenty-four times according to the number of the twenty-four hours of the day and night.” He concluded, “This is exceedingly necessary for people of all estates.” It is the first documented hour-striking clock in a public setting. A Milanese chronicle later reported Visconti’s time of death as August 14, 1339, in the twentieth hour—the first modern reference to an hour indicator in such a context.

Time is a veil interposed between God and ourselves, as our eyelid is between our eye and the light.

- François-René de Chateaubriand, c. 1820




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