COVID-19 Corona Virus
South African Resource Portal
COVID-19 Corona Virus
South African Resource Portal
COVID-19 Corona Virus
South African Resource Portal
Submit an article to Indago - a peer reviewed journal
Submit an article to Indago - a peer reviewed journal
Submit an article to Indago - a peer reviewed journal
  1. A piece of German ingenuity

Factory-produced clocks were first credited to the Lenzkirch Uhrenfabrik, located in the small town of Lenzkirch in the German Black Forest region. Lenzkirch is one of the finest German clockmakers and was founded in 1849 in Lenzkirch, Germany by Eduard Hauser (1825-1900). In 1851, Eduard Hauser and Ignaz Schoepperle joined forces with 5 other men, Franz Josef Faller, Paul Tritscheller, Johann Nikolaus Tritscheller, Joseph Wiest and Nickolas Rogy to form the Aktien-gesesellschaft fur Uhrenfabrication, Lenzkirch (Stock Holder Corporation for Clock Manufacturing, Lenzkirch). The Lenzkirch factory came into full production in 1860 and continued until 1932.

Hauser studied clock making while travelling in France, Switzerland, and England. Under his leadership the factory was modernised with steam engines powering all of the machines. The factory also owned a sawmill and foundry while tool and die makers were employed and gold and silver plating was done in house.

A 19th Century Lenzkirch enamel and bronze mantel clock is preserved in the National Museum, Bloemfontein’s history collection. The bronze work includes garlands, flowers, bows framed by two Bacchus faces. Bacchus is a Roman god primarily associated with wine, agriculture, and fertility. He was also the patron of the arts and the protector of the theatre. This piece features a cobalt blue enamel body, porcelain face with Roman numerals and finely crafted filigree gilt hands. The eight-day twin train movement carries the Lenzkirch hallmark:  Lenzkirch, the pine cone and A G U (Aktien Gesellschaft fuer Uhrenfabrikation).

Lenzkirch clocks are highly collectable because their quality and beauty set them apart from all other clocks made in the Black Forest region.

  1. King Charles II and the invention of the pocket watch

Did you know that it was the English king, Charles II (1630 – 1685) who started a new style of ‘pocket watch’?

The idea of a timepiece that could easily be carried around dates back to the early 1500s when German inventor and master locksmith Peter Henlein invented the first ever ‘pocket watch’ in Nuremberg, Germany. However, these early watches were very heavy and somewhat awkward. Hulking in shape, there were pins and wedges holding them together, and they were rather worn around the neck as a pendant because they could not fit inside a pocket.

In the years that followed many new designs and improvements followed: a minute-hand was introduced; the number of wheels within the watch mechanism was increased thus decreasing the number of times the watch had to be wound up each day, all allowing for a more accurate timepiece. But it was not until the Restoration of the British monarchy and the return of King Charles II in 1660 that watches became small enough to fit inside a pocket.

Soon after his return to England, King Charles II introduced a new male fashion indicative of England’s independence from any foreign influences, especially that of France. Noblemen had long worn variations of trousers and jackets, mostly influenced by the French doublet, until the king declared the vest part of the new fashion of clothes that should be worn at court. The vest was, unlike the French doublet, a tight-fit, knee-length garment that followed the line of the coat it was worn underneath. It was made from plain wool, devoid of any ribbon, lace or gold thread. For King Charles II this attire presented the ideals of self-reliance and independence; simultaneously giving the English wool trade a boost.

Shortly afterwards King Charles II started placing his watch inside the vest pocket, and so introduced us to the “pocket watch” that, soon enough was considered a status piece all over the world. Because of this, the shape of the pocket watch transitioned from being drum-shaped cylinders to a flat design, so it easily fitted into the vest pocket. Glass was also used for the first time to cover the face of the watch, offering the time dials reliable protection.

By 1700, the silhouette of the vest was much simplified and shortened, giving it the name waistcoat as it only reached to the waist and no further. However, by the late 20th century the significance of the waistcoat as a status symbol began to fade. It was no longer needed as a place to store a pocket watch because wristwatches became more popular by the day.

A variety of pocket watches dating from the early 20th century is housed in the History Collection.

Images: Pocket watches, circa 1900s in the History Collection. (photo: Marelie van Rensburg)
  1. An animal-drawn vehicle named for a piece of clothing

The cape cart was one of the most popular vehicles in South Africa from the late 1850s to the 1930s, and many examples of it can still be found to this day.

The name refers to the tent-like hood of this two-wheeled vehicle. In Afrikaans the cape cart is commonly known as a ‘kapkar’, referring to the kappie (bonnet) worn by many Afrikaner women at the time. The English ‘cape cart’, accordingly, refers to a type of loose coat, most often without sleeves, that is fastened at the neck and hangs from the shoulders.

The cape cart was drawn by two or more horses and could take at least two passengers, or up to four if necessary. Baggage was carried on a rack at the back, and in a pinch, passengers too. In the days before railways, the cape cart was often used to carry post. It could cover the distance at an average speed of 8 miles per hour, making it one of the fastest means of transport available at the time.

On display in the Wagon Museum, situated at 95 St George Street in Bloemfontein, is one such cape cart.

Image: Cape cart on display at the Wagon Museum
Image: Voortrekker bonnet (Afr. kappie) in the History Collection.
  1. Bloodletting: a cure for every illness…

Bloodletting (Phlebotomy) is one of the oldest medical treatments known to man. It is the practice of taking or removing blood from a person with the intention to treat, manage or cure an illness. This ancient treatment was based on the Humoral theory developed by the medical theorist Alcmaeon of Croton (c. 540–500 BCE). Hippocrates (considered the father of modern medicine) is credited for applying this theory to medicine in the fourth century BCE. In short humoral medicine was based on the principle that an imbalance in the blood fluids of a person namely blood; phlegm; yellow bile and black bile caused physical and mental sickness. This perceived imbalance was treated by bloodletting, purging or induced vomiting.

Bleeding a person was thought to rid the body of impurities and for this reason was used to treat a number of ailments – fever, madness, anaemia, smallpox, epilepsy, gout etc. Since treatment options were limited and antibiotics were unheard of, bloodletting was the go-to treatment for most physicians often with catastrophic results. It is believed that the following famous people were bled to death or at least died prematurely due to vigorous bloodletting: George Washington (1732-1799); King Charles of England (1630-1685); Queen Anne (1665-1714) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).

The first bloodletting tools were made of sharp pieces of wood and stone. By the 15th century the most popular instrument was the thumb lancet and by the 18th century spring lancets and scarificators (could make multiple cuts in one motion on the release of a trigger) were used. The bloodletting tool still readily found in antique collections today is the fleam (fleame, flem, flue or flew). A fleam consist of two- or three-blades that fold into a brass or horn case. The tips of the blades are triangular in shape and the blades are arranged from large too small. Fleam’s were intended for animal bloodletting, but the smaller blades were used on humans as well. The size of the animal determined the size of the blade a person would use. The blade was placed over the jugular vein and driven in with a wooden club known as a fleam- or blood stick.

Image: Two veterinary fleams housed in the object collection of the National Museum. G 2033 carries the makers mark James Rodgers & Co / Cutlers Sheffield which        dates to c. 1842. G 1731 carries the makers mark Encore / [Thomas] Turner & C / Sheffield

Arbittier, D. Bloodletting Antiques.

Scarifications_and_Bleeder_Medical_Antiques.htm (retrieved 27 November 2023)

Bennion, E. 1979. Antique Medical Instruments. London. Sotheby Parke Bernet Publications

Everett, G. Lenzkirch clocks. (retrieved 28 November 2023)

Fort, G.Treasures from the Rare Book Room: The Super Brief History of Bloodletting. (retrieved 27 November 2023)

Holm E., Die Klein Kapkar, Die Houtspeek no.5 (Junie 2002).

Malan J., Rytuie van Weleer (JL van Schaik, Pretoria, 1981).

Reader’s Digest, The Origins of Everyday Things (The Reader’s Digest Association Ltd, London, 1998).,the%201750s%20lacked%20complete%20accuracy.–tips


Write A Comment