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Q&A: What time is it? IIII or IV?

What time is it? IIII or IV?

Over the past year or so, after replacing an old wall clock (I like the kind with Roman numerals), we brought one home from one of the dollar stores. Upon getting it home our son noticed that at 4, the Roman numeral was listed as IIII instead of IV. What is going on here? Who took it upon themselves to change Roman numerals and why?

No one seems 100 percent certain why some clocks use IIII for 4 o'clock and others use IV. One theory is that using IIII gives a clock a more symmetrical look than using IV because it better offsets the VIII (8 o'clock) on the other side of the clock. Another is that the use of IIII gives a clock a more ancient look.

But we can tell you it's not incorrect to use IIII. The Romans themselves used IIII on sundials, and that became the widely accepted representation of 4 o'clock in that world.

At some point in the Middle Ages, IV started to gain acceptance on clocks and other documents, and even when referring to the fourth name used in a royal line.

As you've noticed, however, there's no consistency in usage. For instance, the most famous clock in the world, Big Ben in London, uses IV.

But many other famous clocks use IIII — among them the clock at Marshall Fields in Chicago, the Ohio clock in the U.S. Capitol and the Zimmer tower clock in Lier, Belgium.

Publix effort nets more than $1M

On Nov. 4 I shopped at Publix and when checking out, the cashier asked if I wanted to donate to the Hurricane Sandy Fund. I did so and was charged for my $5 donation. My question is how much was raised by Publix by this fundraiser?

Maria Brous, director of media and community relations for Publix Super Markets Inc., issued this statement:

"The customer donation program benefitting the American Red Cross Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund concluded on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. Publix customers and associates helped raise more than $1 million for our neighbors in the Northeast. The generosity of our customers is unsurpassed; they always come through in times of need."

Mummers Parade set for Jan. 1

Can you tell me whether or not there is still a Mummers Parade conducted in the United States any more?

Weather permitting, the annual Mummers Parade is Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, in Philadelphia. It starts at 10 a.m. and lasts for hours, and is one of the more colorful New Year's traditions in the United States.

According to the city of Philadelphia website, there are four divisions competing for prizes in the 113th parade: Comic, Fancy, String Band and Fancy Brigade. For more information, visit or

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Q&A: What time is it? IIII or IV? 11/21/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 5:51pm]
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