I noticed the clock when walking south from Grand Central Station in Manhattan to a meeting last week. On top is a wizard with a sword and a blacksmith hammering something. On the side of the clock are mulberry leaves and silkworms. A lady emerges on the hour.
The clock was designed for Robert Schwarzenbach, silk merchant, by sculptor William Zorach in 1926.
There is more than one story about the clock. The more backed story seems to be the wizard is Zoroaster. The blacksmith is a slave. He swings at a cocoon at the feet of the wizard which brings about the emergence of the Queen of Silk. She disappears when the hour is done striking.
The other story about this clock relates to one of the King Arthur stories. According to Ephemeral New York, the Lady of the Lake comes out on the hour after the wizard hits the blacksmith’s head with a sword.
In the King Arthur Story, Le Morte D’Arthur, written by Sir Thomas Malory, Arthur needed another sword. Merlin, the wizard took him to a place where Arthur saw an arm clothed in white samite (silk) holding a sword in the middle of a lake. The lady came out of the lake holding the sword. He asked the Lady of the Lake for the Sword and she gave it to him with the condition that he do what she asked.
Whether the story behind it is Zoroaster or King Arthur, it is an interesting find in New York. I understand the clock does not fully work as it originally did, but it is almost 100 years old. Walk slow if you can and look around closely. It is amazing what you can find along the path you take.