Prix Gaïa 2006 – John H. Leopold. History-Research category
Born in the Netherlands, the historian worked as a curator at the Groninger Museum, then moved to the British Museum as Curator of Horology. He regularly travels to and from the United States - where he is currently studying - the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
An expert of writings related to watchmaking in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, he has particularly focused on the study of prestigious pieces by Jost Bürgi, Johann Reinhold and those of the Fremersdorf Collection, for which he has co-authored the catalog.
The most important work he has carried out to date is undoubtedly the retranscription of the Paulus Almanus manuscript. He was a German ecclesiastic who listed and gave a description of the most well-known clocks of his time.
The wealth of Leopold's work is mainly found in the calculations and interpretations of the movements drawn and described by Paulus Almanus. With the help of the illustrations in the manuscript, Leopold made an entire reconstruction of the described pieces and reproduced the movements of the clocks in the manuscript with unprecedented accuracy for watchmakers.
Far beyond the task of a historian collecting data, the research offered current watchmakers an understanding and a reconstruction of antique models. And so, thanks to the work of J. H. Leopold, the history of time measurement has taken a significant step forward.