A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 10, 2017
“The third hand on a clock is also the second hand”

Many non-digital clocks have three hands—an “hour” hand, a “minute” hand and a “second” hand. A joke is that the “third hand” is the “second hand.” An article titled “Concerning the Clock” appeared in many American newspapers in 1906:

“Most clocks have only two hands, but many have three, and it is somewhat remarkable, anatomically as well as numerically, that the third hand is the second hand.”

Irish comedian and satirist Dave Allen (1936-2005) had a routine where he lectured a child (imaginary) on how to tell time. In a recording of the routine from 1993, Allen said:

“There’s the hour hand. That’s the first hand. Hour. The second hand is the minute hand and the third hand is the second hand.”


Wikipedia: Clock face
Reading a modern clock face
Most modern clocks have the numbers 1 through 12 printed at equally spaced intervals around the periphery of the face with the 12 at the top, indicating the hour, and on many models, sixty dots or lines evenly spaced in a ring around the outside of the dial, indicating minutes and seconds. The time is read by observing the placement of several “hands” which emanate from the centre of the dial:

. A short thick “hour” hand;
. A long, thinner “minute” hand;
. On some models, a very thin “second” or “sweep” hand

Wikipedia: Dave Allen
David Tynan O’Mahony (6 July 1936 – 10 March 2005), better known as Dave Allen, was an Irish comedian and satirist.

Initially becoming known in Australia during 1963–64, Allen made regular television appearances in the United Kingdom from the later 1960s and until the mid 1980s. BBC aired his “Dave Allen Show” 1972-1986, which also was exported to several other European countries. His career had a major resurgence during the late 1980s and early 1990s. At the height of his career he was Britain’s most controversial comedian, regularly provoking indignation at his frequent highlighting of political hypocrisy and his disregard for religious authority. His television shows were also broadcast in the United States and Canada.

27 March 1906, The Idaho Daily Statesman (Boise, ID), “Concerning the Clock,” pg. 4, col. 7:
Most clocks have only two hands, but many have three, and it is somewhat remarkable, anatomically as well as numerically, that the third hand is the second hand.

Chronicling America
2 April 1906, San Francisco (CA) Call, “Concerning the Clock,” pg. 8, col. 4:
Most clocks have only two hands, but many have three, and it is somewhat remarkable, anatomically as well as numerically, that the third hand is the second hand.

BBC News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 March, 2005, 14:19 GMT
Dave Allen: Your tributes
Irish comedian Dave Allen has died in his sleep at the age of 68, his agent has confirmed.
(...)
COMMENTS
One of Dave Allen’s many comic gifts was his great love of the absurdities of the English language, and his evident delight in pointing them out. One joke I’ll never forget was about explaining to a child how a clock works: “The first hand is the minute hand. The second hand is the hour hand. The third hand is the second hand...” It takes a genius to see the obvious humour in what we take for granted and show it up in such warm and chatty dialogue. Dave was one of the greats, and I shall be looking out for the DVD tomorrow.
David, Hove, UK

Twitter
Cynthia‏
@highoctane
my nephew “what’s that hand on the clock that moves all the time?” my dad “the second hand”. nephew “where’s the third hand?”
9:10 PM - 27 Apr 2008

Twitter
Fae 🧚‏
@0xFae
why is the third hand on a clock called the second?
1:05 AM - 27 Nov 2008

Twitter
Admn‏
@peterhoff11
In what other language do thay call the third hand on the clock the second hand?
11:19 PM - 7 Apr 2009

Twitter
Adam Glesser‏
@adamglesser
Thinking that the second hand on a clock should be called the third hand.
8:20 AM - 20 Apr 2009

Twitter
Wayne Mansfield‏
@WayneMansfield
Laugh a Day: Why is the third hand on a clock called a second hand? see more of life at http://is.gd/uvbD
4:33 AM - 26 Apr 2009

YouTube
Dave Allen - “Teaching Your Kid Time” - ‘93 - stereo HQ
davidwrightatloppers
Published on Oct 5, 2009
A classic standup bit from the veteran comic. After 35 years, his timing and delivery were perfect. Watch a master at work…
2:40
“There’s the hour hand. That’s the first hand. Hour. The second hand is the minute hand and the third hand is the second hand.”

Google Books
The Essential Dave Allen
Edited by Graham McCann
London, UK: Hodder & Stoughton
2014
Pg. ?:
There are three hands: the first hand is the hour hand, the second hand is the minute hand and the third hand is the second hand.

Reddit—Shower Thoughts
The third hand on a clock is called the second hand.
submitted October 26, 2015 by bobcat009

Reddit—Shower Thoughts
The third hand on a clock is also the second hand.
submitted October 10, 2017 by Piercethewizard

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTime/Weather • Tuesday, October 10, 2017 • Permalink