"The Craziest In Clock In The World"
The Story Behind

by Charles O. Terwilliger, Jr.

Reprinted from the BULLETIN
       Vol. VIII No 12, Whole No. 82 October 1959       

The name Adler Christian Clausen, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is not generally known as one who contributed to the field of horology. Yet this is the man who invented what has been dubbed "Ignatz - The Craziest Clock in the World."

Patented in 1883, and manufactured by the New Haven Clock Company (under the Jerome & Co. name) for only about a year, 1884-1885, the "Flying Pendulum Clock," which is its proper name, is sought after by collectors of American clocks and by lovers of horological gadgetry. The clock is not known for its beauty, as it is one of the homeliest clocks in the world; and it is certainly not known for its fine workmanship, as it is one of the cheapest 30-hour clocks ever made. But, for the sheer fascination of its visible escapement action, it has no equal in horological history. As one wag has put it, "Ignatz" is the ideal clock for a psychiatrist's waiting room.

Very little has been written about Clausen's masterpiece, but here is everything I've been able to turn up about it. (I'd like to acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Robert Ravel, of Bryn Mawr. Pa., who provided me with much of th historical source material.

Figures 1 to 4 show the illustration in Clausen's patent, No.286,531, for what he called an "Escapement and Regulator."

It was filed August 23, 1883, with no model. Clausen assigned one-half to J. O. Slafter, also of Minneapolis, but the record doesn't show that this man played any part in the development of the clock. Perhaps his interest was only financial. Part of the patent text is as follows:

"To all whom it may concern: Be it known that, I, Alder Christian Clausen, of Minneapolis, in the County of Hennepin and State of Minnesota, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Escapement Regulators; and I do hereby declare the following to be a full, clear, and exact description thereof, reference being had to the accompanying drawings, forming a part of this specification, and in which Figure 1 represents a sectional view of my improvement as used in connection with clock mechanisms.

"Figs. 2, 3, and 4 are detail views, showing, respectively, the first, second, and third movements of the escapement. "This invention relates to certain new and useful improvements in escapement mechanisms for controlling and regulating the release of power which is adapted to be applied to clock mechanism, time-keepers, and other gearing mechanisms; and the invention consists
of novel combination and arrangement of parts, all as will be herinafter fully described, and set forth in the hereto annexed.

Patent Figs. 1, 2, 3, and 4