An 18thC Ebonised Oak Hourglass c.1770

Origin: English
Period: George III
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1770
Height: 7.25”
Diameter: 4”

Of typical form, the ebonised oak hourglass or sand-timer, with draught turned ends and five turned columns enclosing the original sand filled glass vial, the whole surviving from Georgian period England.

The items nature means it has been well used and loved and it could still be used for purpose today. The ebonisation has expected wear and the glass vial remains in-tact with the sand running freely. There are no cracks or damages to speak of other than general wear.

Little written evidence exists to explain why the hour glass has the external form it does. The glass bulbs used, however, have changed in style and design over time. While the main designs have always been ampoule in shape, the bulbs were not always connected. The first hourglasses were two separate bulbs with a cord wrapped at their union that was then coated in wax to hold the piece together and let sand flow in between. It was not until around 1760, when this example was made, that both bulbs were blown together to keep moisture out of the bulbs and regulate the pressure within the bulb that varied the flow.

Depictions of hourglasses in art survive in large numbers from antiquity to the present day, as a symbol for the passage of time. Unlike most other methods of measuring time, the hourglass concretely represents the present as being between the past and the future, and this has made it an enduring symbol of time itself.

In very original condition, time, it seems, has been kind to this enchanting object.