Plasschaert No 3 Pigeon Clock  
Written by AnubisTTP on 2021-10-24  



This unusual clock is a complicated mechanical device, one which combines the functions of a timepiece, printing press, and secure storage facility... all for the singular purpose of settling bets over which pigeon is the fastest. Manufactured by Plasschaert, this specialized machine is used to time pigeon races, and its sheer complexity suggests pigeon racing is a much more contentious hobby than one might expect. The heart of the device is a rotating brass carousel, which is equipped with an array of small numbered compartments. When sealed inside of it's locked wooden carrying case, only a single compartment can be accessed at a time through a small trapdoor in the top of the device. In operation, a numbered band is removed from the leg of each pigeon as it crosses the finish line and placed into the open compartment. Turning a large T-shaped handle on the top of the clock will retract the current compartment into the device, while simultaneously moving a new compartment into position below the trapdoor and printing the current time onto a paper register inside the clock's sealed wooden case. The high quality movement within the Plasschaert No 3 is equipped with two clock faces; one is readable through a glass window on the front of the device, while the second takes the form of a metal printing press plate with movable vanes for each of the clock's four dials. Once the current time has been printed on the paper register, another turn of the T-handle will move the most recent print to a glass window where it can be viewed by the operator. A third small glass strip on the opposite side of the device allows the current state of the paper roll to be viewed.

The Plasschaert No 3 contains a number of features designed to prevent unscrupulous pigeon racers from tampering with the clock's results. A security mechanism mounted on the right side of the printing press punches a hole in the paper register every time the lid is opened. Additionally, the balance wheel platform has an extra set of gearing attached to a spring loaded weight. If the clock is shaken or spun rapidly to try to speed up or slow down the movement, the weight will release and freeze the time on the clock face. A small button on the top of the clock movement, which is only accessible when the case is open, will reset this security lockout feature. Winding and setting of the clock is done through a series of holes and arbors on the clock's dial, which is also only accessible when the case is unlocked and open.


Plasschaert No 3 Pigeon Clock
Plasschaert No 3 pigeon clock, shown removed from case.

Plasschaert No 3 Pigeon Timer
The Plasschaert No 3 is normally sealed inside a wooden case to prevent tampering by dishonest pigeon racers.

Plasschaert Pigeon Clock Printing Press
Plasschaert pigeon clocks contain a metal printing press plate with movable hands to imprint the current time on a paper record.

Plasschaert Pigeon Timers
Plasschaert made a number of different variants of this clock, each with minor changes and improvements.

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