Maths Lessons - Roman Numerals & Clocks - Some Clock Faces Use IIII & Others Use IV. Why?

Roman Numerals, Clock Faces

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Why IV on Some Clocks & IIII on Others

During the reign of the French king Louis XIV (1638-1715) it is said that he prefered IIII over IV on clock faces. As a result he ordered all the clock makers in France to only use IIII on clock faces. We still see the results of this decision today in that some clocks have IIII & some have a IV.

NB I find this a little bit funny as Louis is remembered in history as Louis the XIV rather than Louis the XIIII

So why do you think king Louis made this decision? Does one face look more symmetrical than the other? Are some numbers harder to read? Does one clock face look more 'classy' than the other? What do you think?

On another note, the numerals used on a clock face don't effect your ability to read a clock. Once you learn the place of the numbers you tell time by using the shapes the hands make & prior knowledge.

Extension Activity - Find pictures of both types of clock faces. Which is the most common?

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Roman Numerals Subtractive Principle

Roman Numerals


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