Friday, April 15, 2016

Postcard: Sundial at sunset at the 1939 New York World's Fair

Here's a peaceful and colorful postcard to mark the end of the traditional work week. This linen postcard show us 80-foot-tall "Time and Fates of Man" sundial at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Also visible, in the background, is the 60-foot statue of George Washington, by James Earle Fraser. But it's the sun dial — lit by a brilliant sunset — that steals the show.

"Time and Fates of Man" was created by American sculptor Paul Manship (1885-1966). The terrific 1939 New York World's Fair website by Paul M. Van Dort offers this description and history of the sundial:
"Manship wrote, 'The Perisphere and Trylon at the World's Fair suggests to me measurements of time and space, so my sundial ... relates to the background of the central motif of the Fair.' His white plaster sculpture was the biggest sundial in the world, standing 80 feet tall.

"The Three Fates, 'The Daughters of Necessity,' sitting under the tree that holds up the sundial's pointer, are characters from Greek mythology. The Goddess of Necessity, Themis, brought forth three lovely daughters, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, known as The Fates. All living things must eventually submit to these divine daughters of Zeus and Themis. Life is woven by Clotho, measured by Lachesis and, finally, in a very literal sense, the thread of life is cut by Atropos."
You can see additional images of Manship's sundial on Van Dort's website.

This postcard, published by the Manhattan Post Card Publishing Co., was glued into a scrapbook, so the back is somewhat damaged. It's still usable, though. If you'd like me to mail it to you, so that it can finally fulfill its intended purpose, drop me a line at chrisottopa (at)

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