Skip to content


The E-Sylum (12/15/2013)

Book Content

Franklin Noel submitted this note about the connection between a Rittenhouse clock and the design of the Fugio Cent. Thanks! -Editor

Rittenhouse Clock 2 If readers want a more concrete numismatic reason to acquire a Rittenhouse Clock, beyond the obvious, Sylvester Crosby provides this information in his description of FUGIO cents:

"This coin was issued by authority of Congress in 1787. It is generally known as the Franklin Cent, but should properly be called the Rittenhouse Cent, if named after any individual."

In a footnote, quoting Barton's Memoirs of David Rittenhouse, p. 467, Crosby explains:

Lot 6771 Fugio 4-E obverse "In the year 1756 he (Rittenhouse,) made an eight-day clock, for his brother in law, Mr. Barton; over the dial plate of which, was engraven this mementory motto -- Tempus fugit; and underneath, this blunt but too often necessary precept -- Go about your business."

The Barton quote goes on to note that these mottos also appeared on continental currency during the "American war," and on the one cent piece struck in 1787.

See Crosby, Sylvester Sage, The Early Coins of America p. 302. Recall that Crosby himself was a watchmaker by profession.

Thanks! I'd forgotten about the reference to Rittenhouse. The Franklin connection has drowned it out over the years, but one doubts Crosby only at one's peril. He may be on to something there. What do readers make of this connection?

While searching for information about this particular clock, I came across the following references. There was a big exhibit of Rittenhouse clocks and instruments at the Franklin Institute, and there has been a complete book written about one of Rittenhouse's clocks: The Most Important Clock in America. -Editor

The Most Important Clock in America To read the complete articles, see:


An Early David Rittenhouse Clock In the Philadelphia History Museum At the Atwater Kent (

Drexel University’s Rittenhouse Clock Now the Subject of a New Book - See more at: (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: THE CLOCKS OF DAVID RITTENHOUSE (

NNP is 100% non-profit and independent // Your feedback is essential and welcome. // Your feedback is essential and welcome.