Measuring time with a vintage hour-glass egg timer


Doesn’t time pass quickly? After beautiful sunny days, November decided to serve up rainy, icy cold days here in the South of France, not the ideal weather when you have to go outside to feed donkeys, goats and chicken. We now just have one chicken and a rooster left, so finding that one egg a day is always a joy. Knowing how tricky boiling an egg can be, using a vintage hour-glass egg timer, the assistant in timing the cooking of the eggs, has always been handy. One adds charm to a vintage kitchen using an hour-glass egg timer as device to mark the duration of time in order to obtain the perfect egg.

The idea of sand measuring the passage of time already appealed to people a long time ago. The first real evidence of the existence of the hourglass can be found in a 1338 fresco by Ambrogio Lorenzetti (Allegory of Bad Government and Its Effects on Town and Country).

They were fairly easy to make, nearly any glass blower could construct one. When clocks became more accurate they gave way to them but were still used to measure duration of sermons, lectures and even periods of torture…


Although not being the most accurate measuring instruments to report time, they were vital to maritime navigation in the early days. A small, ½ minute sand-timer was also used at sea to measure speed through the water. But the duration of sand’s flow could be influenced by environmental factors, even the design of the sandglass.

What expertise it took, to design it carefully calibrated, to keep into account the ratio of the neck width to the diameter of the sand particles. The type and quality of the sand is ever so important, its flow can’t fluctuate, it can’t be too coarse in order not to wear away the glass.

And of course writing about the hour glass as a woman, it comes to my mind that the word hour glass is often used to describe the physical figure of a woman, as a compliment. I was told that nowadays the word “egg timer” is used to describe a person you can only deal with for a short amount of time before you want to run away and/or hurt them .

Don’t you love the background drawings? They were made for us by artist Ruth Hogben, during one of her visits, representing our chicken.


To me it seems like this year was shorter than the last, or is it just my brain’s perception of time that might be changing more and more as I get older? Christmas is already within a month…

According to a theory from Parisian philosopher Paul Janet, “if your time seems to be passing you by faster than it used to, you’re not crazy, you’re just getting older”. We perceive time relative to the “absolute” time we compare it to. In other words, the longer we’re alive, the smaller a year becomes in relation to our entire life as a whole!

To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower. Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour. William Blake

Keeping track of time ticking away, realizing time is precious!

By the way “Happy Thanksgiving” to my American readers!


PS: The item will be for sale in the Woo Hoo Cuties’ shop!



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