This card of the Great Westminster Clock (Big Ben) also includes the House of Parliament from a perspective looking east toward the River Thames and the Westminster Bridge.
The card includes the music score for The Westminster Chimes, and it is an advertisement for E. Dent & Co. Ltd.
Edward John Dent and Company won a competition in 1852 to manufacture and fix-in-place the massive mechanism that became the world’s most famous public clock. Sir George Airy, the astronomer royal for Queen Victoria arranged to pay £1,800 to Dent to build the clock based on plans drawn by Edmund Beckett Denison.
Edward John Dent died in 1853 and it was left to his son, Frederick, to complete the job. The satisfactory completion of the project provided the company with the privilege of using Big Ben’s image in any future advertising.
It may be somewhat misleading to add ‘Big Ben’ after the words ‘The Great Westminster Clock’ as Big Ben is neither the name of the clock nor the tower, but a nickname given to the bell within the tower. And certainly, the word “bell” perhaps underplays this device, since Big Ben weights 13½ tons!
The tower building was completed in 1859 although it was newsworthy well before that. The London correspondent of the Glasgow Herald on October 24, 1856 wrote:
It is unclear what accident is referred to in the above article although there was a further accident in 1857 reported by the Brighton Gazette of October 29, 1857, titled, ACCIDENT HAS OCCURRED TO BIG BEN. “In the new palace of Westminster, for some time past, it has been the custom to toll the bell for a short time at one o’clock on Saturdays. On Saturday the proceeding was commenced as usual, and after the hammer had struck for the third time, it was found that the sound was not the old familiar E natural, but a cracked and uncertain sound. The crack in the bell rises perpendicularly from the rim, or lower lip, to about half-way the side, and it is directly opposite to the spot on which the bell was struck by the large hammer.”
It may be commonly known that Big Ben cracked early in the life of the tower although, it is doubtful that a second crack is known. This Oxford Journal of October 8, 1859, reports: