Roman Numerals on Clocks
Date: 06/04/2001 at 17:24:09 From: Jill Fleming Subject: Roman Numerals on clocks Dear Dr. Math, There is a debate in my classroom. Is the Roman numeral on a clock written as IV, or IIII? I think it is IV, but some say it is IIII but only on clocks. Thank you, Jill
Date: 06/04/2001 at 17:51:28 From: Doctor Roy Subject: Re: Roman Numerals on clocks Hello, Thanks for writing to Dr. Math. The correct way to write the Roman numeral 4 is IV. However, on clocks, an archaic form, IIII, is used. This is to "balance" the face of the clock. Clockmakers decided that a clock face would look more visually pleasing if opposite the 8 o'clock position (VIII) was another Roman numeral that had 4 parts to it, so the number of characters used to write the 4 is the same as the number used to write the 8. It's all a matter of what looks good to people. For more history from the British Horological Institute, see: Roman Numeral Clock Faces Why do some clocks use IIII and others use IV? http://www.bhi.co.uk/hints/roman.htm I hope this helps. - Doctor Roy, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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