Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-56f9d74cfd-rbfsf Total loading time: 0.255 Render date: 2022-06-25T06:03:25.742Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

Against the clock: time awareness in early modern Antwerp, 1585–1789

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 August 2013

University of Antwerp, Centre for Urban History.
University of Antwerp, Centre for Urban History.


Traditionally a large role has been attributed to the spread of clocks and watches in fostering a ‘modern’ awareness of time. Yet, little research is available that empirically enables signs of growing time awareness to be linked to the distribution of time-keeping devices. In this article both these phenomena are brought together using two independent sets of evidence that permit the hypothesis that clocks and watches contributed to a heightened consciousness of time to be tested. While the ownership of clocks and watches was socially skewed, highly gendered and unevenly distributed over time, time awareness – as exemplified throughout numerous court cases – was essentially none of these.

Contre la montre: la conscience du temps à anvers à l'époque moderne, 1585–1789

Traditionnellement, on attribue un rôle important à la multiplication des horloges et des montres pour expliquer le développement d'une prise de conscience du temps, en tant que phénomène „moderne“. Pourtant, très peu de recherches ont pu, jusqu'à présent, apporter empiriquement des indices susceptibles de relier cette conscience croissante du temps qui passe à la disponibilité croissante d'appareils de mesure du temps. Dans cet article, ces deux phénomènes sont rapprochés − une fois réunis deux ensembles de données indépendantes −, ce qui permet de tester cette hypothèse que les horloges et les montres auraient contribué à une prise de conscience accrue du temps. Alors que la propriété des horloges et des montres a été socialement biaisée, fortement genrée et inégalement répartie selon les périodes, la sensibilisation au temps, comme en témoignent nombre d'affaires judiciaires, ne s'accompagne d'aucune de ces dernières caractéristiques.

Gegen die uhr: zeitbewusstsein im frühneuzeitlichen antwerpen, 1585–1789

Traditionellerweise wird der Verbreitung von Uhren und Taschenuhren eine große Bedeutung für die Beförderung eines „modernen“ Zeitbewusstseins zugeschrieben. Gleichwohl gibt es bisher kaum Forschungen, die es uns erlauben, die Anzeichen für ein wachsendes Zeitbewusstsein empirisch gesichert mit der Verbreitung von Zeitmessgeräten zu verknüpfen. In diesem Beitrag werden beide Phänomene zusammengefügt und zwei unabhängige Datensätze verwendet, die es erlauben, die Hypotehse zu testen, dass Uhren und Taschenuhren zu einem erhöhten Zeitbewusstsein führten. Während der Besitz von Uhren und Taschenuhren sozial, geschlechtsspezifisch und auch im Zeitverlauf ungleich verteilt war, trifft für das Zeitbewusstsein – ausweislich der Ausagen in zahlreichen Gerichtsverfahren – keine dieser Verwerfungen zu.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


1 Whether the nineteenth century was indeed the cradle for a novel time awareness is a question that remains subject to debate. For example: Schivelbush, Wolfgang, The railway journey: the industrialization of time and space in the 19th century (New York, 1986), 33–8Google Scholar; Harrison, Mark, ‘The ordering of the urban environment: time, work, and the occurrence of crowds, 1790–1835’, Past and Present 110 (1986), 134–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Landes, David S., ‘Debate: the ordering of the urban environment: time, work and the occurrence of crowds 1790–1835’, Past and Present 116 (1987), 192–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Jeremy Stein, ‘Reflections on time, time-space compression and technology in the nineteenth century’, in Jon May and Nigel Thrift eds., Timespace: geographies of temporality (London, 2001), 106–19; Zerubavel, Eviatar, ‘The standardization of time: a sociohistorical perspective’, American Journal of Sociology 88, 1 (1982), 123CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Glennie, Paul and Thrift, Nigel, Shaping the day: a history of timekeeping in England and Wales, 1300–1800 (Oxford, 2009), 24–9, 50–1CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 Thompson, Edward, ‘Time, work-discipline, and industrial capitalism’, Past and Present 38 (1967), 5697CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Robert Darnton, The business of enlightenment: a publishing history of the encyclopédie, 1775–1800 (Cambridge, 1979), 220–7. For an introduction to the anthropological conceptualisation of time, see Munn, Nancy, ‘The cultural anthropology of time: a critical essay’, Annual Review of Anthropology 21 (1992), 93123CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 Thompson, ‘Time’, 58–60, 67–9, 71–7.

4 Jan de Vries, The industrious revolution: consumer behavior and the household economy, 1650 to the present (Cambridge, 2008), 73–111; Jan de Vries, ‘Between purchasing power and the world of goods: understanding the household economy in early modern Europe’, in John Brewer and Roy Porter eds., Consumption and the world of goods (London, 1993), 85–132; Voth, Hans-Joachim, ‘Time and work in eighteenth-century London’, Journal of Economic History 58, 1 (1998), 2958CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hans-Voth, Joachim, ‘The longest years: new estimates of labor input in England, 1760–1830’, Journal of Economic History 61, 4 (2001), 1065–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 Paul Glennie and Nigel Thrift were the first to coin this concept of a horological revolution. Even though David Landes, Carlo Cipolla and other textbooks do not explicitly use the concept, they nevertheless stress the revolutionary effect of the introduction of pocket watches and other personal timepieces on early modern time awareness: David S. Landes, Revolution in time: clocks and the making of the modern world (Cambridge, 1983); Carlo Cipolla, Clocks and culture, 1300–1700 (London, 1967), especially 103. Fertile ground for this hypothesis is also found in the research on material culture: A. Pardailhé-Galabrun, La naissance de l'intime: 3000 foyers parisiens XVIIe–XVIIIe siècles (Paris, 1988), 173; Hester Dibbits, Vertrouwd bezit: materiële cultuur in Doesburg en Maassluis, 1650–1800 (Nijmegen, 2001), 280.

6 On horological inventions: Gerald Whitrow, Time in history: the evolution of our general awareness of time and temporal perspective (Oxford, 1989), 123–31; A. Borst, Zeit und zahl in der geschichte Europas (Munich, 1999), 111–35. Legislation is the main focus in: Karl Härter, ‘Zeitordnungen und Zeitverbrechen: Reglementierung, Disziplinierung und Fragmentierung von Zeit in der frühneuzeitlichen Policeygesetzgebung’, in Arndt Brendecke, Ralf-Peter Füchs and Edith Koller eds., Die Autorität der Zeit in der frühen Neuzeit (Berlin, 2007), 187–232; Klaus Schreiner, ‘Abwuerdigung der Feyertage – Neuordnung der Zeit im Widerstreit zwischen religiöser Heilssorge und wirtschaftlichen Fortschritt’, in Brendecke Füchs and Koller, Die Autorität der Zeit, 257–303.

7 Stuart Sherman, Telling time: clocks, diaries and English diurnal form, 1660–1785 (Chicago, 1997); Glennie and Thrift, Shaping the day, 199–213; Baggerman, Arianne and Dekker, Rudolf, ‘Otto's horloge. Verlichting, deugd en tijd in de achttiende eeuw’, Tijdschrift voor Sociale Geschiedenis 26 (2000), 124Google Scholar.

8 Harrison, ‘The ordering’, 134–68; Reid, Douglas, ‘Weddings, weekdays, work and leisure in urban England, 1791–1911: the decline of Saint Monday revisited’, Past and Present 153 (1996), 135–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hans-Voth, Joachim, ‘Seasonality of conceptions as a source of historical time budget analysis’, Historical Methods 27, 3 (1994), 127–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9 Voth, ‘Time and work’, 29–58; Hans-Voth, Joachim, ‘Time use in eighteenth-century London: some evidence from the Old Bailey’, Journal of Economic History 57, 2 (1997), 497–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

10 The files of the Vierschaer are now kept in Antwerp city archives: Felixarchief Antwerpen, Belgium (hereafter FeA), V 85–111, Informatiën en examinatiën (1600–1775). For more background on the Vierschaer, see Wim Meewis, De Vierschaar: de criminele rechtspraak in het oude Antwerpen (Kapellen, 1992).

11 Probate inventories are tried-and-tested sources to unearth details about private ownership of clocks and watches: Glennie and Thrift, Shaping the day, 109–13; de Vries, The industrious revolution, 3–4; Lorna Weatherill, ‘The meaning of consumer behaviour in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century England’, in Brewer and Porter, Consumption, 220–2; R. Sarti, Europe at home: family and material culture, 1500–1800 (New Haven, 2002), 217; Dibbits, Vertrouwd bezit, 275–7.

12 C. Lis, Social change and the labouring poor: Antwerp, 1770–1860 (New Haven, 1986), 7–8; A. Winter, Migrants and urban change, 69–70; Blondé, Bruno and van Damme, Ilja, ‘Retail growth and consumer changes in a declining urban economy: Antwerp (1650–1750)’, Economic History Review 63, 3 (2010), 638–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar, here 639; Bruno Blondé, Maarten van Dijck and Anton Vrints, ‘Een probleemstad? Spanningsvelden tussen burgerlijke waarden en sociale realiteiten’, in Inge Bertels, Bert de Munck and Herman van Goethem eds., Antwerpen: biografie van een stad (Antwerpen, 2010), 293; Bruno Blondé, ‘Economische groei en armoede in de pruikentijd. Het voorbeeld van de Brabantse steden, 1750–1780’, in Carl Reyns ed., Werkgelegenheid en inkomen (Antwerp, 1996), 343–58.

13 Blondé, Bruno, ‘Steenwegen, transportkosten, tijdsbesef, economische ontwikkeling en verkeerscongestie in de eeuw van de Verlichting. Het voorbeeld van de Brabantse steenwegen’, Tijdschrift voor Ecologische Geschiedenis 2 (1997), 1826Google Scholar; Blondé, Bruno, ‘At the cradle of the transport revolution? Paved roads, traffic flows and economic development in eighteenth-century Brabant’, Journal of Transport History 31, 1 (2010), 89111CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Verhoeven, Gerrit, ‘“Een divertissant somertogje”: transport innovations and the rise of short-term pleasure trips in the Low Countries (1600–1750)’, Journal of Transport History 30, 1 (2009), 7897CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

14 Daniel Roche, La France des Lumières (Paris, 1993), 81.

15 FeA, V 111, Case Cornelius Van der Planken (18 December 1774).

16 Some superseded information about the Vierschaer procedure in Meewis, De Vierschaar, 48–50, 71–80.

17 FeA, V 111, Case Cornelius Van der Planken (18 December 1774).

18 Samples were taken for the periods 1600–1635 (44 testimonies), 1700–1735 (110 testimonies) and 1750–1775 (641 testimonies). Strictly speaking, there was no sampling, as the majority of cases (85 to 95 per cent) now preserved in the Felixarchives were scrutinised.

19 Discussions on the methodological advantages and disadvantages of judicial sources are to be found in Voth, ‘Time and work’, 30–2; and Rab Houston, Literacy in early modern Europe: culture and education, 1500–1800 (Harlow, 2002), 132–7. On the methodological pitfalls of contemporary sociological research into time budgeting: Ignace Glorieux ed., De 24 uur van Vlaanderen: het dagelijks leven van minuut tot minuut (Leuven, 2006), 15–17.

20 Blondé, van Dijck and Vrints, ‘Een probleemstad’, 277–93; Pieter Spierenburg, The spectacle of suffering: executions and the evolution of repression: from a preindustrial metropolis to the European experience (Cambridge, 2008), 157–68.

21 Houston, Literacy, 133–4.

22 Upper echelons (e.g. burgomasters, aldermen, merchants, speculators, notaries, lawyers, physicians), skilled artisans (e.g. master craftsmen: carpenters, bricklayers, coppersmiths, cobblers, hatters, weavers), unskilled labourers (e.g. journeymen and apprentices of craftsmen, dock labourers, farmers, wagoners), retailers (e.g. shopkeepers, grocers, fishmongers, matchsticksellers).

23 For example, witnesses called to testify in Cornelius's case included young colleague hatters, an adult innkeeper, a surgeon, a 40-year-old locksmith and his wife, and a silversmith apprentice. FeA, V 111, Case Cornelius Van der Planken (18 December 1775).

24 This is also an issue in sociological research. Glorieux, De 24 uur, 16.

25 FeA, V 111, Case Jacobus Merckx (22 October 1775).

26 An example of the rising accuracy of Vierschaer dossiers was the age of the witness, which was stated in 85 per cent of the cases in 1600–1635, 91 per cent in 1700–1735, and 98 per cent in 1750–1775. Calculations based on G. Verhoeven, Vierschaer testimonies (1600–1775) (unpublished database).

27 FeA, V 86, Case Joris de Hout (23 April 1614).

28 FeA, V 108, Case Maria Theresia Venesoen (1772). More examples: FeA, V 114, Case Joanna Elisabeth Thienpont (18 February 1779); FeA, V 117, Case Hagens (27 February 1783).

29 Today, the dossiers of the notary are kept in the Antwerp city archives: FeA, Notarial records (1500–1800). We took four samples (1630, 1680, 1730 and 1780) from these notary proceedings, resulting in 359 probate inventories. These sources were already tried and tested, see: Blondé and van Damme, ‘Retail growth’, 642–6; Bruno Blondé, ‘Tableware and changing consumer patters. Dynamics of material culture in Antwerp, 17th and 18th centuries’, in J. Veeckman ed., Majolica and glass from Italy to Antwerp and beyond: the transfer of technology in the 16th–early 17th century (Antwerp, 2002), 295–311; Bruno Blondé and Veerle de Laet, ‘Owning paintings and changes in consumer preferences in the low countries, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries’, in Neil de Marchi and Hans van Migroet eds., Mapping markets for paintings in Europe, 1450–1750 (Turnhout, 2006), 63–84.

30 Literature on the methodological advantages and disadvantages of this source: de Vries, The industrious revolution, 126–7; Ad van der Woude and Anton Schuurman eds., Probate inventories: a new source for the historical study of wealth (Wageningen, 1980); Thera Wijsenbeek-Olthuis, Boedelinventarissen: broncommentaren 2 (Den Haag, 1995), 1–73.

31 FeA, Notarial records, 3729, 3815; Carolien De Staelen, ‘Levenswijze en consumptiepatroon van een Antwerpse weduwe. Het huishoudjournaal van Elisabeth Moretus (1664–1675)’ (unpublished MA thesis, Ghent, 2002).

32 FeA, Notarial records, 3729.

33 FeA, Notarial records, 2305.

34 FeA, V 105, Case Elisabeth van Eensbroeck (9 July 1759).

35 Natural and social phenomena were frequently used in early modern Europe to measure time: Glennie and Thrift, Shaping the day, 119–20; Paul Glennie and Nigel Thrift, ‘The spaces of clock times’, in Patrick Joyce ed., The social in question: new bearings in history and the social sciences (Abingdon, 2002), 165; Thompson, ‘Time’, 57–8. Primitive tribes use this sort of time keeping: Munn, ‘The cultural anthropology’, 96–104.

36 FeA, V 109, Case Philippus Jacobus Gevaerts (14 May 1773).

37 Ibid.

38 In the late eighteenth century more than 88 per cent of the witnesses mentioned an exact timing. G. Verhoeven, Vierschaer testimonies (1600–1775) (unpublished database). This conclusion is partially buttressed by similar – albeit more restricted – research on criminal files in late eighteenth-century England: Glennie and Thrift, Shaping the day, 213–14.

39 FeA, V 109, Case Philippus Gevaerts (14 May 1773).

40 Literature on these age-old forms of time measuring: Thompson, ‘Time’, 57–8; Emmanuel le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou, the promised land of error (London, 1979), 277–81; Primitive tribes also use this sort of timekeeping: Munn, ‘The cultural anthropology’, 96–104. More than 87 per cent of Antwerp witnesses used a time-based indication (hour, half an hour, quarter, minutes): G. Verhoeven, Vierschaer testimonies (1600–1775) (unpublished database).

41 FeA, V 103, Case Adrianus van Camp (2 December 1750); FeA, V 109, Case Joannes Laucka (23 September 1788).

42 Marie Agnès Dequidt, ‘Watch and clock ownership in Paris, 1750–1850’, in Bruno Blondé, Natacha Coquery and Jon Stobart eds., Fashioning old and new: changing consumer preferences in Europe (seventeenth–nineteenth centuries) (Turnhout, 2009), 29–42; Whitrow, Time in history, 123–7; Thompson, ‘Time’, 57–8; de Vries, The industrious revolution, 125.

43 National Archives Brussels, Belgium [hereafter NA] Court of Finances 5748–5805, Rélévé general des marchandises (1760–1789). We thank Ann Coenen for allowing access to her databases. More information in: Coenen, Ann, ‘Katoen en economische groei: de katoenhandel in de Oostenrijkse Nederlanden tussen politieke ambities en economische realiteit (1759–1791)’, Tijdschrift voor sociale en economische geschiedenis 2 (2011), 3260CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

44 FeA, Privilegiekamer, 2561–2564; NA, Fiscaal Officie Brabant, 388–405. See: Bruno Blondé, Een economie met verschillende snelheden: ongelijkheden in de opbouw en de ontwikkeling van het Brabantse stedelijke netwerk (ca. 1750–ca. 1790) (Brussels, 1999), 259–60.

45 Clock ownership grew in Antwerp inventories from barely 11.8 per cent in 1730 to 30.7 per cent in 1780. Moreover, the increase proves statistically significant: χ2=16.55 (p < 0.001), Cramér's V=0.21.

46 Glennie and Thrift, Shaping the day, 109–13; de Vries, The industrious revolution, 2–4; Dequidt, ‘Watch and clock ownership’, 123–7; Lorna Weatherill, Consumer behaviour and material culture in Britain, 1660–1760 (London, 1988), 76.

47 See for the bells of Our Lady Cathedral: FeA, KK 211–12, Onze-Lieve-Vrouwetoren. Horloge en beiaard (16de–18de eeuw).

48 Witnesses hardly ever mentioned the source of their time awareness, with the exception of 36 cases. Barely 16 per cent (5 of 36) referred to a private timepiece (pocket watch or longcase clock), while 84 per cent (31 of 36) alluded to public horloges (church bells or gate bells). Some examples: FeA, V 111, Case Bartholomeus Coels (19 February 1775); FeA, V 104, Case Jacobus Moens (June 1753); FeA, V 103, Case Jasper de Meulder (4 December 1752).

49 On these early modern soundscapes, see B. Smith, The acoustic world of early modern England: attending the O-factor (London, 1999), 53–5; Garrioch, D., ‘Sounds of the city: the soundscape of early modern European towns’, Urban History 30, 1 (2003), 525CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

50 Voth, ‘Time and work’, 29–58; Glennie and Thrift, Shaping the day, 408–9; C. Humphrey, ‘Time and urban culture in late medieval England’, in C. Humphrey and W. M. Ormrod eds., Time in the medieval world (York, 2001), 105–17. For time awareness in the Middle Ages, see in particular Jacques Le Goff, Time, work and culture in the Middle Ages (Chicago, 1980).

51 FeA, V 103, Case François Peeters (21 August 1614).

52 Early eighteenth-century witnesses used indications such as ‘a quarter of an hour’, ‘around half a quarter of an hour’ or ‘one hour and a half’ to assess small intervals of time. Some examples: FeA, V 91, Case Catharina Delen (11 May 1727); FeA, V 93, Case Jan Cluysenaer (4 November 1731).

53 FeA, V 94, Case Bernardus Rottiers (12 February 1733).

54 Gerrit Verhoeven, ‘“Le pays où on ne sait pas lire”. Literacy, numeracy, and human capital in the commercial hub of the Austrian Netherlands (1715–1775)’, European History Quarterly [forthcoming, 2014].

55 Computations on the basis of Table 2 show a χ2=3.317 (p=0.095, one-sided) but an almost negligible Cramér's V=0.065. The changes were indeed significant, but small. In order to control for the possible disturbing effects of other explanatory variables, a logistic regression was run in which time precision, with indications of quarter of an hour and half an hour, was measured as a dependent variable on the one hand and gender, literacy, social class and period were entered as covariates on the other. Of these, only the time period was statistically significant for time precision of at least half an hour. Compared with the late eighteenth century, the odds for such a precise time indication were considerably (exp(B)=0.264) smaller in the first half of the seventeenth century (p=0.006). The difference between the first half of the eighteenth century and the second half was smaller (exp(B)=0.687) and statistically insignificant (p=0.113).

56 Glennie and Thrift, Shaping the day, 109–13; de Vries, The industrious revolution, 2–4; Dequidt, ‘Watch and clock ownership’, 123–7.

57 FeA, KK 211–12, Onze-Lieve-Vrouwetoren. Horloge en beiaard (16de–18de eeuw).

58 On these ‘new luxuries’, see Weatherill, ‘The meaning’, 206–27; M. Berg, Luxury and pleasure in eighteenth-century Britain (Oxford, 2005), 6, 19, 154–8; de Vries, The industrious revolution, 44–73; Blondé and van Damme, ‘Retail growth’, 642–8.

59 See for a full comment on this methodology: Blondé and de Laet, ‘Owning paintings’, 69–86.

60 Compare with Weatherill, Consumer behaviour, 108.

61 Social variations in clock ownership were statistically significant (χ2=13.416; p<0.000; Cramér's V=0.43). Compare, for example, Weatherill, Consumer behaviour, 108.

62 Calculations based on NA, Court of Finances 5748–5804, Rélévé general des marchandises (1760–1789).

63 FeA, V 103, Case Guillelmus Wouters (19 March 1752).

64 Thompson, ‘Time’, 67–9, 90; Weatherill, ‘The meaning’, 222. Another view is offered in: Glennie and Thrift, Shaping the day, 155–60, 190; de Vries, The industrious revolution, 2–5.

65 Sociological research argues that there is a vast difference between upper-class and lower-class time budgeting and awareness: Glorieux, De 24 uur, 23.

66 Upper-class witnesses referred to clock-time in 94.6 per cent of all cases, while 92.4 per cent of the skilled artisans and 88.3 per cent of the Antwerp retailers mentioned an exact hour, half an hour, or quarter in the late eighteenth century. Calculations based on G. Verhoeven, Vierschaer testimonies (1600–1775) (unpublished database).

67 FeA, V 117, Case Anna Maria Sas (27 February 1783).

68 Smith, The acoustic world, 53–5; Garrioch, ‘Sounds of the city’, 5–25; Glennie and Thrift, Shaping the day, 116–19.

69 Weatherill, ‘The meaning’, 211; Sarti, Europe at home, 217; Moira Donald, ‘“The greatest necessity for every rank of men”: gender, clocks and watches’, in Moira Donald and Linda Hurcombe eds., Gender and material culture in historical perspective (London, 2000), 54–75; Amanda Vickery, Behind closed doors: at home in Georgian England (New Haven, 2009), 265–7.

70 Odds ratio of 8.972; 95 per cent confidence interval (hereafter CI) 2.885–27.904.

71 χ2=16.391; p < 0.000; Cramér's V=0.47. See on this issue especially Donald, ‘The greatest necessity’, 54–75.

72 In the upper social groups at the end of the eighteenth century the odds ratio (male/female) is 2.933, with men 1.6 times as likely to own a clock than were women and 0.547 times as likely not to own one. Small sample sizes render the calculation of the odds ratio insignificant (95 per cent CI 0.469–18.333). However, in the lower social groups the odds ratio for male testators' ownership of time-keeping devices was considerably larger: 9.714 and statistically significant (95 per cent CI 1.948–48.454). Overall, when controlling for social rank, the Mantel–Haenszel common odds ratio of 5.590 is statically significant (two-sided asymptotic significance 0.005). Thus, gender differences recorded in clock ownership also stand even after correcting for the unequal social composition of the probate inventory testators researched. A logistic regression, in which clock ownership functioned as the dependent variable and family situation and silver ownership (a proxy for the wealth of the probate inventory testator) as covariates, confirmed these findings. With the help of both parameters (silver ownership, which was measured as the range of silver objects testators possessed, and family situation), 86 per cent of cases of watch and clock ownership can be predicted correctly (Nagelkerke R 2=0.645). The parameter estimates yield odds (exp(B)=1.196; p<0.000) for silver ownership. This suggests that the chances of owning a clock increased with the growth of the range of silver objects. Furthermore, the calculated odds for family situation was 24.05 (p=0.001). In conclusion, when controlling for silver ownership, the presence of a male head of household considerably increased the probability of clock ownership.

73 Vickery, Behind closed doors, 264; Berg, Luxury and pleasure, 227.

74 Gazette van Antwerpen (17 February 1730). Special thanks to Dries Lyna (University of Antwerp) and Ilja Van Damme (University of Antwerp) who granted access to their database on newspaper advertisements from 1730, 1740, 1750, 1770 and 1790.

75 Gazette van Antwerpen (8 August 1730).

76 Donald, ‘The greatest necessity’, 67–9.

77 FeA, Notarial records, 3263.

78 FeA, Notarial records, 2308.

79 FeA, Notarial records, 1032.

80 FeA, Notarial records, 784.

81 FeA, Notarial records, 189.

82 Donald, ‘The greatest necessity’, 72–3.

83 It would seem that a potential ‘dark number’ is present here, as these brass and copper substitutes were much cheaper and thus not always registered by the notary and his clerks. However, most evidence appears to support the idea that these alternatives were of minor – or marginal – importance in eighteenth-century Antwerp. Indeed, not a single copper watch was recorded in the trade statistics of the Austrian Netherlands. Watchcases made from copper, brass, or even wood were scarce in Ancien Régime Paris too. Marie-Agnès Dequidt, Temps et société: les horlogers Parisiens (1750–1850) (unpublished Doctoral thesis, Université de Paris-Est Créteuil), 348–9.

84 FeA, Notarial records, 4744.

85 Cissy Fairchilds, ‘The production and marketing of populuxe goods in eighteenth-century Paris’, in Brewer and Porter, Consumption, 230.

86 Women referred to clock-time in 86.1 per cent of all cases, while male witnesses employed it in 88.8 per cent of cases. Indeed, no significant difference in male and female time awareness existed (χ2=5.53; p=0.48). Calculations based on G. Verhoeven, Vierschaer testimonies (1600–1775) (unpublished database). Contemporary sociological research shows some major difference in time budgeting between males and females: Glorieux, De 24 uur, 23–5.

87 Merry E. Wiesner, Women and gender in early modern Europe (Cambridge, 1993), 84–99; Laura Gowing, ‘The freedom of the streets: women and social space, 1560–1640’, in Paul Griffiths and Mark Jenner eds., Londinopolis: essays in the cultural and social history of early modern London (Manchester, 2000), 130–51; Laura Van Aert, Leven of overleven? Winkelhouden in crisistijd: de Antwerpse meerseniers, ca. 1648–1748 (Antwerp, 2007), 157–8, 473–5.

88 Van Aert, Leven of overleven?, 157–8, 473–5; Laura Van Aert and Danielle van den Heuvel, ‘Sekse als sleutel tot succes? Vrouwen en de verkoop van textiel in de Noordelijke en Zuidelijke Nederlanden, ca. 1650–1800’, Textielhistorische bijdragen 47 (2007), 732Google Scholar; de Vries, The industrious revolution, 106.

89 FeA, V 115, Case Laurentius Vogels (4 July 1780).

90 Cross-tabulating the data from Table 5 regrouped into four categories (quarter hour, half hour, hour, other) reveals that the null hypothesis cannot be rejected (χ2=0.89; p=0.345; Cramér's V=0.04).

Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Against the clock: time awareness in early modern Antwerp, 1585–1789
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Against the clock: time awareness in early modern Antwerp, 1585–1789
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Against the clock: time awareness in early modern Antwerp, 1585–1789
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *