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HOLY NOT LOOKING, BATMAN! Readers - you have an assignment, QUICK!

By Andrew Pollack on 11/14/2006 at 11:30 PM EST

* Updated: I was shown to be completely wrong here -- but in the interest of honesty in blogging I'm going to leave the post as it was. If you care to see, just view the comments.
I'm staying at the Marriott West Philadelphia tonight and tomorrow night. I just was down at the front desk paying for some Doritos (I hadn't met all the parts of my food pyramid yet). The staff were all looking at the clock hanging behind the main lobby counter. Though it had been hanging there for years, it took a 5 year old to notice that the Roman numerals on the clock are WRONG! The number 4 is written on the face of this clock as IIII. -- as I said, nobody had ever noticed before.

Marrriott probably doesn't buy 1 of anything. I would bet that any full service Marriott which had been decorated at about the same time has the exact same clock hanging over the desk in the lobby. Your assignment -- first chance you get -- is to stop at the nearest full service Marriott and check. I'd love to see pictures of these clocks in all the locations.

I'll snap one of the clock in this lobby in the morning, unless the guys in black suits and dark glasses take it away before morning.

There are  - loading -  comments....

re: HOLY NOT LOOKING, BATMAN! Readers - you have an assignment, QUICK!By Bruce Elgort on 11/14/2006 at 11:48 PM EST
Check out this link:

Says iiii is an acceptable numeral.
re: HOLY NOT LOOKING, BATMAN! Readers - you have an assignment, QUICK!By Andrew Pollack on 11/14/2006 at 11:54 PM EST
... acceptable is even not enoughBy Jens on 11/15/2006 at 05:27 AM EST
in fact IIII is the Usual way Romans have written that number. IV was a
"modern" "shorthand", that was only used in later times and hence was less
found in Roman timeframe. I have no idea, how it was in the middle age.

BTW, same is true for VIIII versus IX

... and if you go on, there are in fact wrong combinations like IC for 99 or IM
for 999, subtracting is only allowed from the next decimal place, so 99 must be
constructing starting at 50 ... LXXXXIX or starting at 90 XCIX .....
re: HOLY NOT LOOKING, BATMAN! Readers - you have an assignment, QUICK!By Rock on 11/17/2006 at 02:56 PM EST
Actually you see that a lot on clock and watch faces using Roman numerals. In
fact, Rolexes with Roman numeral faces also use IIII for four.I also believe it
is to cut down on confusion of four (IV) and six (VI) when looking at them
inverted, as on a clock face.

re: HOLY NOT LOOKING, BATMAN! Readers - you have an assignment, QUICK!By John Newland on 11/20/2006 at 02:01 AM EST
Roman Numerals for "4" can be displayed correctly in both forms IV or IIII.
Note following..
"There is a story that a famous clockmaker had constructed a clock for Louis
XIV, king of France. The clockmaker had naturally used IV for four. When the
clock was shown to the king, he remarked that IIII should have been used
instead of IV. When it was explained to him that IV was correct, he still
insisted, so that there was nothing to do but change the clock dial. This
introduced the custom of using IIII for four. This is probably only a story,
however, as IIII occurs long before the time of Louis XIV. And this same story
is also told in connection with other monarchs. There is one reason why IIII is
preferable to IV, and it may have caused the change. On the other side of the
clock dial the VIII is the heaviest number, consisting of four heavy strokes
and one light one, as it is usually made. It would destroy the symmetry to have
the IV with only two heavy strokes on the other side. Thus IIII with four heavy
strokes is much to be preferred. The change may therefore have been made for
reasons of symmetry."

From Time & Timekeepers, W. I. Milham, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1947,
p. 196:
Regards from John Newland, Cookernup, Western Australia

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