Antonio Bergo
Watch Expert
May 2022

1585 (Part 2)

In 1585, Tommaso Garzoni, a religious belonging to the order of the Lateran Canons, had one of his most important works published under the title: La piazza universale di tutte le professioni del mondo, which would be reprinted and translated for almost a century. A very fortunate work and an example then for many. It is a pity that our Tommaso (sometimes Tomaso) died in 1589 and did not enjoy the success.
An encyclopaedic, endless work, it deals with all professions, trades, human activities. From princes and lords to clergymen, from jurisconsults to agozzini, agucchiaruoli, arcari, boii, curadestri, from duellists to cunning, heretics and, of course, inquisitors, from dream interpreters to logicians, magicians, backbiters, prostitutes, cops, spies, usurers. In short, think of any human activity and here you will find a description, up to 540 entries. Yes you read that right.

It traces the history of each activity from its origins, almost always referring to the Greek world, describes what the subject matter consists of, what tools they use (when needed), names examples of important people in that occupation, cites sources. Each chapter ends with an annotation. Some brief, citing sources to consult, in others he expresses his judgement, often caustic, semi-serious.
To the profession: De’ maestri d’horologi, Garzoni devotes little space. Only three and a half pages, while to the prostitutes almost twelve!!!!

He starts by talking about how time was measured among the Greeks, then moves on to the Roman world and arrives at our time, or rather his time. He tells his contemporaries, who are much less informed than we are, that all clocks contain within them the hore, the mezhore, the quarter-hours and the minutes (this is 1585 and some people have never seen a clock). He mentions sundials, sundials, hourglasses and sand horolgi, but admits that those of his time are better.
He tells us that clocks: poi communemente o son da sole, o di acqua, o da polvere, o da ruote con le parti loro.
He affirms that: questo è mestiero assai honorato, et utile per la gran commodità, che riceve l’huomo dalla notitia dell’hore, et de’ tempi per gli esercitii suoi.

But at the end of his presentation he writes this: ma il più giusto horologio del mondo è quello de’ villani, che mai falla perché si sentono al ventre l’hora di pranso, di colatione, et della cena mirabilmente.
He then adds a criticism that even today many would subscribe to: il vitio particolare di questi maestri da horologii è questo, che per nettare, o forbir solamente un horologio dimandano dui o tre ducati, quasi che non si sappia che cosa importi il nettargli di dentro, et che l’huomo non s’accorga, che gli fanno altra fattura attorno, se ben con molte ciancie, et parole dicono havergli aggiustati, racconcie le ruote, posta la mira a segno, accomodato il tempo, raddrizzato molti ferretti, levata la ruggine, et insomma col tenergli in mano un mese, fanno sembiante d’havervi meschiato molt’opere dentro et a pena gli hanno visti, restando appesi a un muro, o serrati in una cassetta come da loro si costuma.
Hor questo basti intorno a’ formatori d’horologii.


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