James Doull of Charlestown, Massachusetts. Cabinetmakers John & Thomas Seymour of Boston, Massachusetts.
An important Hepplewhite tall case clock with an automated rocking ship painted dial signed by James Doull of Charlestown, Massachusetts. The inlaid mahogany case is attributed to the Boston cabinetmakers John & Thomas Seymour and is pictured in John and Thomas Seymour Cabinetmakers in Boston 1794-1816 written by Vernon C. Stoneman. This clock is pictured on page 350.
James Doull was born in Scotland in 1785 and immigrated to the United States in 1806 at the age of 29. In 1807, he is listed in the Boston tax records as working with Clockmaker Aaron Willard as a journeyman. This suggests that he came to this country highly skilled and must have been trained overseas. Because he is listed for only one year in Boston, it is assumed he moved to Charlestown shortly after this date. In 1823 he moves to Pennsylvania and he took up residence in Philadelphia. He is listed there until 1856. Over the years we have owned several tall case clocks, shelf clocks and a timepiece made by this fine Maker.
The colorfully painted iron dial is of local origin and was most likely painted by the Boston artists Spencer Nolen & Samuel Curtis. Similar dials have been found with this artist's signature signed on the back of the dial. It is interesting to note that this dial has a die-stamped Patten & Jones False Plate. One other Doull tall clock known is fitted in the same manner. Curtis & Nolen are known to have manufactured dials and false plates for this Philadelphia firm. Doull must have intercepted a couple before they were shipped. This example is signed by the clockmaker, "James Doull," in script lettering below the center arbor. His working location "Charlestown" is written in block lettering and is positioned below the signature. In the arch of this dial one will find the automated feature of a rocking ship. The painted ship is depicted flying the American flag and moves from side to side with the motion of the pendulum. The painted scene behind the sailing ship includes a large windmill built out on a peninsula to the left and the open sea is to the right. Several other sailing ships are depicted in the background. This nautical scene is painted on a convex piece of metal and adds to the visual depth to the scene. The four spandrel areas are decorated with colorfully painted American or Federal shields. The hours are indicated by large Roman numerals. The five minute markers are indicated in an Arabic style format. A subsidiary seconds dial and a calendar are displayed in the traditional locations.
The weight driven movement is brass construction, eight-day duration and of good quality. This clock is designed to strike each hour on the hour on a bell. The bell is mounted above the movement on a bell stand.
This inlaid mahogany case is attributed to John and or Thomas Seymour of Boston, Massachusetts. It exhibits excellent proportions. The base proudly stands on flared French feet. Please note the subtle shaping or flare. The feet and the central drop apron are visually separated from the base by a complicated line inlay a pattern that features pyramids laid out along the same horizontal plane. This complex pattern is very difficult to construct. The front of the base panel is veneered with a highly figured selection of mahogany. An inlaid framing of mahogany and satinwood stringing defines a cross banded outer border. The waist is long and features a rectangular waist door. This door provides access to the interior of the case where one will find a brass covered pendulum bob and two red painted tin can weights. This door is fitted with an applied molding along the outer edge. The center of the door is veneered with a figured panel of mahogany and the outer edge is crossbanded. The sides of the case are fitted with finely reeded quarter columns. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. They are elevated on satinwood stiles. The bonnet features an open fretwork design that is surmounted with three brass ball and spiked finials. The lower third of the fretwork is original to this clock The lacy pattern has been restored with an appropriate pattern. The arched bonnet door is decoratively line inlaid and the opening is fitted with glass. Fully turned and reeded bonnet columns support the upper bonnet molding.
This wonderful clock was made circa 1810 and stands approximately 8 feet tall.
About James Doull of Charlestown, Massachusetts.
James Doull was born in Scotland in 1785 and immigrated to the United States in 1806 at the age of 29. In 1807, he is listed in the Boston tax records as working with Clockmaker Aaron Willard as a journeyman. This suggests that he came to this country highly skilled and must have been trained overseas. Because he is listed for only one year in Boston, it is assumed he moved to Charlestown shortly after this date. In 1823 he moves to Pennsylvania and he took up residence in Philadelphia. In 1823 he is listed at 112 High. in 1825 at 3 Castle. 1828 – 1833 on hte south east corner of South and Spruce. 1835 through 1849 south east corner of 4th and Spruce. in 1856 on South 4th. He is listed there until 1856. Over the years we have owned several tall case clocks, shelf clocks and a timepiece made by this fine Maker.
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