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Monday, June 5, 2023

Something About Gog and Magog

For whom the bell tolls.

From our archives, a bit about the clock jacks Anthony and Miss Eells found in the Stillwater, Wisconsin Town Hall resembling the Biblical giants Gog and Magog from The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb (1988).

What or who Gog and Magog were are somewhat confusing since, from their two references in the Bible, one could label them human, supernatural entities (giants or demons), lands, or cities.  In the Bible (Ezekiel 38:2-3), Gog was King of Magog, a northern land whose fierce hordes eventually invaded Israel.  Later Gog and Magog symbolize the enemies of the Kingdom of God (Revelation 20:7-8).

The names appeared in British history, too, though if it comes from the Bible or a misunderstanding of Welsh words is unclear.  Effigies of Gogmagog and Corineus, legendary giant figures in Welsh and Cornish mythology, were recorded in 1558 at the coronation of Elizabeth I and later installed as guardians at London's Guildhall.  In time these two became known by the familiar names Gog and Magog.

Another pair of Gog and Magog statues stood near the center of London, a few blocks south of the Guildhall, at the Sir John Bennett Jewelry Shop on Cheapside.  There the figures tolled each quarter hour between 1846 and 1929.  Years after Bennett died, the family sold the building, and soon it – well, part of the building – and the statues moved permanently to Dearborn, Michigan, and the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.  Ford had the original five-story building trimmed down into a smaller two-story with only London-based items being the clockworks and parts of the building's façade.

During the winter of 2005-06, Greenfield Village undertook an extensive restoration of the figures and the dragon weathervane to look like they had nearly 125 years before.

Ford brought the jacks to the United States in 1931.  It's tempting to think of a young Bellairs visiting Greenfield Village in the 1940s or 50s and seeing the figures.  

Had Bennett been alive, one wonders what he would have thought of seeing his clockworks up and running in another country.  Surely their faces would have rung a bell or two.

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