Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Victoria Station, 1747

Today's episode of "Dumbass Anglophile" features this handsome wall clock:

Ah, the charme of olde Londone. Imagine this "timeless timepiece" bringing history alive in your home! Experience the thrill of dashing for a train in the real Victoria Station, back in... 1747?

I don't know much about clockmaking, but you have to figure that this product was conceived, designed, approved, etc., by more than one person and over some period of time. Yet throughout this process, did no one bother to check whether "Victoria Station" and "1747" were reasonable concepts to associate on the face of a single product? Now, I don't expect everyone to know off the top of his/her head that Victoria Station was not constructed until 1860. But it seems to me that people with the savvy to mass-produce and market a consumer product should be capable of some basic research.

That aside, the continued availability of this item suggests that someone, somewhere, is buying the thing. Assuming that people don't generally intend their homes as showcases for laughably obvious horological anachronisms, we may conclude that these purchasers are unaware of the mistake. I don't, of course, hold purchasers to the same standard as the designers--we all have better things to do than dig out an encyclopedia every time we go to the mall. But one typically associates Anglophilia with a desire--however ill-conceived--to project sophistication. So it might not be too much to ask that the committed Anglophile recognize two rather glaring clues that something is amiss.

OK, first: for whom might Victoria Station be named? Hmm... famous Englishwomen named Victoria... aha! Queen Victoria? Indeed. And when did Queen Victoria reign? No exact dates needed, just a general sense. Let's see: Victorian era... Charles Dickens, Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper... sometime in the 1800s right? So is it likely that Queen Victoria was having a station named after her in 1747? Why, no.

And, second: let us think about 1747. Hell, let's just think about the entire 1700s. Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, the American Revolution--were the key players chugging around on locomotives? Did Tom Jones extricate himself from a hay-loft sex romp in time to catch the 07:28 for Taunton? No, because there were no trains! (Yes, yes, there were horse-drawn rail trams, but they didn't carry passengers until 1807.) So, in the absence of trains, is it likely that a train station was constructed prior to 1747? Again, no.

Of course, no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American Anglophile. So maybe the designers of this piece figured they'd be wasting their time coming up with a plausible date. Perhaps I'll buy one, and present it to the Townes at Cameron Parke.


  1. If you give it to them, will they promise to spell "townes" correctly? And evict any "shoppes" they had on-site? Better an anachronistic clock than anything with an extra -e.

  2. Update: a Dublin-based subscriber, the daughter of a clockmaker, has informed me that the clock's design is also a distinct anachronism, not having emerged until the 19th century.

    Another subscriber asks why I was shopping on Credit where credit is due, the existence of this timepiece was actually pointed out to me by reader Superfecta; it used to be available on the BBC America website, but is no longer. Fortunately, many retailers still stock it; just had the best picture.

  3. You can't beat Skymall, baby!

    (At least that's where I saw this quality timepiece).

    But many thanks for your kind credit. Next time you are in this area, The Family Superfecta will treat you to a fine meal as a reward.


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