A peculiar business was organized in 1836 by the English spouses John and Maria Belleville. They decided to make money trading time. It looked like this - the newly minted businessmen visited the Royal Greenwich Observatory every day and set the exact time on their chronometer. History has even preserved the brand and number of the personalized chronometer: "Arnold" # 485/786.
Then the exact time had to be delivered to customers: those who needed accurate time. The Belleville family had about 200 regular customers, mainly London watchmakers.
John passed away in 1856, and his wife had to run the business alone for many years. Only in 1892 this unusual business passed to the daughter of Ruth Belleville, who was engaged in the sale of exact time even in the twentieth century. True, Ruth has competitors. For example, a certain John Wynn used the telegraph to transmit information and more than once criticized Ms. Belleville for using an antediluvian way of delivering time. But Ruth did not give up, especially since many clients continued to use her services.
A much more serious blow to the business of Ruth Belleville was dealt by the Air Force radio station, which, in February 1924, began to transmit precise time signals. After that, Ruth had only a few of the most loyal customers. But, the time saleswoman left for a well-deserved rest only in 1940, due to her advanced age - then she turned 86 and it became difficult to make a daily journey of 12 miles to the observatory and back.
After that, Belleville lived for another 3 years, she died in 1943, just a few months before her ninetieth birthday. By the way, in the last years of her life they did not forget about her - journalists often visited the old woman to interview a representative of an unusual profession. In 2008, the National Museum of Greenwich even released a book about Ruth Belleville. And her famous chronometer was donated to the Museum of the Association of Watchmakers.
By the way, the idea of transmitting the exact time using a six-point signal, which mark 55, 56, 57, 58, 59 and 60th seconds, was proposed in 1923 by the English astronomer Frank Dyson.
And on November 7, 1937, on the day of the 20th anniversary of the Great October Revolution, a precise time service appeared in Moscow. To do this, you had to dial 100 on your phone.