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Topic Title: IV or IIII
Topic Summary: Roman numerals
Created On: 22 July 2013 03:16 PM
Status: Post and Reply
Related E&T article: Classic projects: H4 chronometer
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 22 July 2013 03:16 PM
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MFK

Posts: 1
Joined: 22 July 2013

Anyone else notice the error on the diagram of the Chronometer designed by john Harrison? On a clock face 4 is usually shown as IIII not the normal Roman IV. Google some images of existing Harrison Chronometers to check.
 22 July 2013 07:59 PM
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gkenyon

Posts: 4478
Joined: 06 May 2002

This could be one of the most famous exceptions to the "IIII" rule:

http://www.visitlondon.com/thi...ist-attraction/big-ben

But yes, the H4 in the Greenwich Mueseum, of which the image in the article appears to be, does indeed have "IIII" rather than "IV".

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Eur Ing Graham Kenyon CEng MIET TechIOSH
 26 July 2013 08:04 AM
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stevanjessica

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Joined: 29 April 2013

Oh that is really a interesting question that why Chronometer designed by john Harrison shows IIII not the normal Roman IV.
 05 August 2013 12:35 AM
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kengreen

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Joined: 15 April 2013

Take a look at old clocks as found in ancient houses ref. National Trust. Both forms were in use.
 05 August 2013 10:43 AM
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gkenyon

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Originally posted by: stevanjessica

Oh that is really a interesting question that why Chronometer designed by john Harrison shows IIII not the normal Roman IV.
One reason put forward, is that it's based on a French clock face designed for King Louis XIV (or should that be XIIII ? ), and it's for purely for artistic reasons. It splits the clock face into three equally-sized sectors of 4 numbers, going clockwise from "I", we have 4 numbers containing only I "I" (I, II, III, IIII), then 4 numbers containing "V" (V, VI, VII, VIII), then 4 numbers containing X (IX, X, XI, XII). Using IV instead of I breaks up this ordered approach.

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Eur Ing Graham Kenyon CEng MIET TechIOSH
 01 September 2013 01:02 AM
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justyburns

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Joined: 30 August 2013

This is brilliant.

I'm 41 years old and I've never actually noticed that before, but I reckon Graham's explanation of artistic or even maybe aesthetic reasons makes the most sense. The thirds reasoning seems most practical to me from an aesthetic principal using artistic concepts.
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