Roman Numerals & Clocks

Why is IV on some Clocks & IIII on Others?

roman numerals clock faces

                                                              Roman Numerals Clock Faces

The French king Louis XIV (1638-1715) is said to have preferred IIII over IV on clock faces. As a result of this he ordered all the clock makers in France to use only IIII on clock faces. We still see the results of this decision today as some clocks have IIII  on them & others have IV.

The funny thing is Louis is remembered in history as Louis the XIV rather than Louis the XIIII

So why do you think king Louis made this decision? Does one face look more symmetrical than the other? Are some numbers harder to read? Does one clock face look more ‘classy’ than the other? What do you think?

On another note, the numerals used on a clock face don’t effect your ability to read a clock. Once you learn the place of the numbers you tell time by using the shapes the hands make & prior knowledge.

Extension Activity – Find pictures of both types of clock faces. Which is the most common?

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