A Connecticut River Valley tall case clock. Unsigned.
This handsome case is constructed in cherry and retains an old surface or finish. This example stands approximately 7 feet 5 inches or 89 inches tall. It was made circa 1795.
This cherry case is elevated or stands up off the floor on four wonderfully shaped bracket feet. Pads are applied to the footprint and the returns are bold and creatively designed. The feet are part of a double step bracket molding that is applied to the base. The base is decorated with an applied scalloped apron. This very interesting detail visually hangs from or below the lower waist molding. The waist is long and centers tombstone shaped waist door. Through this door one can access the two cast iron weights and brass faced pendulum bob which is supported on it's original wood rod. This arched shape door is fitted with a bold molding around the outer edge and is secured in place by a brass turn buckle. The front corners of the waist are fitted with very unusual quarter columns. These are carved in a roped tuned design. A raised bead is incorporated or positioned between a broader turning. This pattern became some what popular in the mid 1780's in the Northampton and Springfield region of Massachusetts. These columns are framed in a beaded border. They terminate in turned wooden quarter capitals. The hood features a masculine molded arch molding. This is visually supported by four columns. The front two are fluted and terminate in brass capitals. The two positioned in the back corners are not only turned smooth but are also shaped with a taper. These terminate in wooden quarter capitals. The pierced an open fret work pattern is unusual. It shares a very similar design to a pattern found on a clock made by Daniel Burnap of East Windsor, Ct and was owned by the late William H. Putnam. This example is pictured on page 142 in, Shop Records of Daniel Burnap Clockmaker which was put together by Penrose R. Hoopes. The design is less restricted and free flowing. The three capped finial plinths are fluted and three wooden finials surmount them. The bonnet door and the sides lights are arched in form and fitted with glass. The door opens to access the painted iron dial.
This colorfully painted dial features a moon phase or lunar calendar mechanism in the arch. The time track features large Roman numeral hour markers. The five minute markers are painted in an Arabic form. A subsidiary seconds dial and month calendar can be found in their traditional locations inside the time ring. The four spandrel areas are colorfully decorated in floral themes. A gilt border frames this painted design. This dial was painted by the Wilson dial Manufactory in Birmingham, England and imported into this country.
This fine movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. Four turned brass pillars that taper from a center ring support the two brass plates. Hardened steel shafts support the polished steel pinions and brass gearing. The winding drums are smooth and hold approximately eight days of winding cord. The escapement is a recoil format. The movement is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is a two train or a time and strike design having a rack and snail striking system. As a result, it will strike each hour on the hour. This is done on a cast iron bell which is mounted above the movement.
This cherry case has a number of design elements that suggest it's origin to be placed along the Connecticut river Basin. Due to the fact that the dial is not signed. It is very difficult to assign a specific location two were it was built. What we do know is the following. The general form and proportions reflect a Connecticut and central Massachusetts origin. The feet are a form that is commonly seen on cases constructed in the Norwich area with dials signed by Thomas Harland. The use of a drop apron that is applied to the upper section of the base is commonly found on clock made in Norwich, Hartford and towns located along the Connecticut River as far north as Windsor, Vermont and in the Worcester, Massachusetts area. This is also true of the fret work pattern which we know call a "Whale's tails" fret pattern. The quarter columns are very usual and reflects a style found on several chests thought to be constructed in the Northampton and Springfield area. A good discussion about this case pieces can be found in the book titled, Connecticut Valley Furniture, Eliphant Chapin and His Contemporaries, 1750 – 1800 written by Thomas P. Kugelman and Alice K. Kugelman with Robert Lionetti.
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