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H10184 Turret clock drive for chronograph or telescope, metal, retailed by Angelo Tornaghi, Sydney, 1880-1890, used at Sydney Observatory, Observatory Hill, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Click to enlarge.

Angelo Tornaghi clock mechanism

Made in England, 1880-1890.
"Mr. Tornaghi for the Sydney Observatory has also constructed numbers of tide-gauges, standard barometers, self-registering barometers, micrometer eye-pieces, and numberless other instruments of importance."

Tornaghi was born Milan in 1831 and arrived in Sydney in 1858 to supervise the adjustment of the Negretti & Zambra instruments ordered by Sydney Observatory.

This turret clock mechanism was probably made in England during the 1880s before being imported by Tornaghi to Australia. Clock mechanisms were often imported as it was cheaper to import them than make them locally. Tornaghi was responsible mainly for the installation and construction of the cabinets.

In the late 1800s Tornaghi won contracts with the New South Wales government and as a result many of his smaller clocks mounted in government offices. His larger turret clocks were installed in Post Offices at Albury, Orange, Forbes, Maitland, Lismore, Tamworth, Dubbo and Yass.

Although there are no records of its use at Sydney Observatory it appears this clock mechanism was used to drive a telescope or chronograph. This instrument remains of national significance due to its pioneering role in Australian science and its association with Australia's earliest astronomers. It is also significant for its association with local nineteenth century instrument makers.

By Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, Total Asset Management Project, March 2008

References
Australian Men of Mark, Volume 2, Charles F. Maxwell, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, 1889
Maguire, Roslyn, 'Angelo Tornaghi; an inventive Italian of the nineteenth century, in The Australian Antique Collector, number 29, 1985
Eccles, Daniel, Powerhouse Museum Blue File, 1997

Summary

Object No.

H10184

Object Statement

Turret clock drive for chronograph or telescope, metal, retailed by Angelo Tornaghi, Sydney, 1880-1890, used at Sydney Observatory, Observatory Hill, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Physical Description

Turret clock drive for chronograph or telescope, metal, retailed by Angelo Tornaghi, Sydney, 1880-1890, used at Sydney Observatory, Observatory Hill, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

A turret clock drive with a weight drive and dead-beat escapement. The clock drive consists of a series of [brass/bronze] cogs and springs supported by two metal frames. There is a dial fixed to outside of one frame. The dial is numbered from 0-60 in gradations of 10. There are also three metal components with the clock drive which were removed when clock was cleaned in 1997.

Marks

Text engraved on a dial reads 'TORNAGHI/ SYDNEY'.

Dimensions

Height

250 mm

Width

250 mm

Depth

310 mm

Production

Made

England 1880-1890

Notes

This turret clock mechanism was probably made in England during the 1880s before being imported by Tornaghi to Australia.

Angelo Tornaghi was born Milan in 1824 and arrived in Sydney in 1858 to supervise the adjustment of the Negretti & Zambra instruments ordered by Sydney Observatory.

By 1861 he had set up his own business at 28 Bridge Street Sydney and was acting as a local agent for the London based Negretti & Zambra. It was during this period that Tornaghi also started making instruments himself and by 1864 he had moved to larger premises at 312 George St Sydney.

His first major scientific achievement in the colony was the invention in 1863 of a portable and accurate circumferentor. These were used by surveyors in place of the ordinary theodolite and were used to measure horizontal and vertical angles.

Tornaghi must have impressed staff at Sydney Observatory for he was one of the members selected by H.C. Russell to work with him on the observations of the 1874 Transit of Venus. The 1889 publication Men of Mark stated that for "the Sydney Observatory he has also constructed numbers of tide-gauges, standard barometers, self-registering barometers, micrometer eye-pieces, and numberless other instruments of importance."

However it was as a clock maker that Tornaghi is primarily remembered as he took on many government commissions including constructing and looking after "clocks in the Government offices and in various ministerial departments, which alone keeps a large staff of men employed."

On one of his biggest projects the construction of the Sydney Town Hall Tornaghi declared he would forgo all payment if the clock did not turn out. As it turned out he may have been wiser not to make this offer for his design to construct what was then the largest clock in Australia was rejected by the government. The clock is believed to have been installed in the Lismore Post Office. Other Post Office clocks by Tornaghi can be found in Albury, Kiama, Orange, Forbes, Maitland, Tamworth, Yass, Dubbo, Grafton and Goulburn.

Tornaghi was also a designer and metal worker and amongst his many accomplishments were the largest known electro-metallurgy plated statues. These monuments were 14 feet high and were placed in front of the Mutual Fire Assurance Company building.

References
Maguire, Roslyn, 'Angelo Tornaghi; an inventive Italian of the nineteenth century, in The Australian Antique Collector, number 29, 1985
Australian Men of Mark, Volume 2, Charles F. Maxwell, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, 1889

History

Notes

The clock drive was used at Sydney Observatory, Observatory Hill, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Source

Credit Line

Sydney Observatory Collection, 1984

Acquisition Date

6 February 1984

Cite this Object

Harvard

Angelo Tornaghi clock mechanism 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 4 August 2020, <https://ma.as/231099>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/231099 |title=Angelo Tornaghi clock mechanism |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=4 August 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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