John McNiesh of New York City, New York. Tall case clock.
This is a very unusual mahogany case tall clock. Please notice the bonnet area. The dial is circular yet the bonnet door is arched. As a result, the dial door has been painted to accommodate the two styles. One can easily speculate why this clock was constructed in this unusual manner.
The case is veneered in wonderfully figured mahogany. Flared French feet support the case and elevate it up off the floor. The feet transition into a fancy drop apron that exhibits an unusual form. The base panel is cross banded with a wide mahogany border. This helps to frame the richly grained crotch veneered panel. The waist section is fitted with a simply shaped waist door. This door features a skillfully executed veneer pattern. Please look closely. The design is quite intricate. Flanking the sides of the case are two fully turned and nicely shaped columns. These are inset into the front corners of the case. The bonnet or hood features a swan's neck pediment. The upper moldings terminate in inlaid floral style rosettes. Three finial plinths support the set of brass ball and spike finials. The bonnet columns are free standing. They are decoratively carved and nicely detailed. The hood door is arched and fitted with glass. The glass in this door is painted to form a frame around and circular shape of the dial.
The painted iron dial is a circular form. It is signed by the clockmaker in the traditional location. It reads, “J. McNiesh, New York.” This dial displays the the hours, quarter hours, quarter seconds and calendar day in an Arabic format. A painted gilt trim ring can be seen on the outside edge. This dial was painted in Philadelphia by William Jones. Jones was a prolific dial painter and most likely sold this to a supply store near where McNiesh worked.
The time and strike movement is of good quality and is designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is constructed in brass and the levers are nicely shaped. It is weight driven or weight powered. This clock strikes the hours on a cast iron bell which is mounted above the movement on a bell stand. This movement is good quality.
This clock was made circa 1820. It stands approximately 7 feet 11 inches tall to the top of the center finial. It is inventory number LL-114.
About John McNiesh, (Sr.) of New York City.
John McNiesh (Sr.) was born a native of Scotland sometime around 1777. At the age of 35, he immigrated to New York city in 1812. At this time, he had been trained as a clock and watchmaker. He was married to Janet (Drisdale) McNiesh and had six children. Their first child, Jane, died in Scotland in infancy. Their second child, also named Jane, grew up in New York and married John Phyfe of that city. The third child, Elizabeth did not marry. She lived to be 86 years old. The fourth child, Janet married John Ferguson of New York City. John, the fifth son, was educated in New York and was trained by his father as a clock and watchmaker. His first shop was located on Wall Street and the corner of William Street. Successful, he remained there until 1842 when he relocated to Brooklyn and emerged himself in the mercantile trade. In 1844 he retired the family homestead at Woodrow in the Borough of Richmond. He died on January 12, 1882 at Huguenot Park. Their last child, James died at Woodrow in 1851. He did not marry. John (Sr.) is listed in the NYC Directories as a Watchmaker in 1820 and 1835. He became a naturalized citizen on February 5th, 1828. His occupation was listed as a merchant. He and Janet resided on Water Street for a number of years. They later moved to Woodrow, borough of Richmond, where the family purchased a farm and homestead. John passed away in 1846.
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