Royal Berkshire Hospital has been able to put a clock back on display after close to eight years thanks to an engraving, reports BBC News.
The timepiece disappeared from its position in the medical facility in 2004, but a restorer who new the clock well was able to bring it back home thanks to the "unusual picture" etched on to the back of it.
David Card said it was "terribly exciting" tracking down the piece with his son-in-law and persuading the auction house that were holding the clock to relinquish it.
He revealed that it was only be chance that he saw it, saying: "A a friend happened to come by and show me a catalogue. As I was throwing it away the page opened up and there was a small photograph of a clock that looked suddenly familiar."
The idea of using a precision engraving to identify an item is not new; homeowners are generally encouraged to add a small engraving to their valuables to help track them down if they are lost, according to times-georgian.com.
What makes this Royal Berkshire Hospital clock different is that the engraving - found on the back of the timepiece - was of a man smoking a pipe.
It is thought that the etching is a picture of W Snowdon, the 19th century clockmaker from Reading.