Henry Griffen of New York, New York. Case attributed to John And Thomas Seymour of Boston.

An important Hepplewhite tall case clock with dial signed by “Henry Griffen / New York.” The inlaid mahogany case is attributed to the Boston cabinetmakers John & Thomas Seymour.

ThIs colorfully painted iron dial was manufactured in England by the Osbourne firm. It is fitted with a false plate and is signed at the top. The dial is oversized measuring 14 inches across and almost 20 inches in height. In the arch of this dial one will find the automated feature of a moon phase or lunar calendar. An interesting note is that one of the scenes depicted between the moons is of a ship that is burning in the evening sky. The four spandrel areas are decorated with colorfully painted scenes. Each depicts a woman in each of the four seasons. Winter is illustrated in the lower right corner. The hours are indicated by large Roman style numerals. The five minute markers are each indicated in an Arabic format. A subsidiary seconds dial and a calendar dial are displayed in the traditional locations an indicated by separate hands. A ghost signature of who is most likely the retailer is present. This dial is signed by the clockmaker, “Henry Griffen,” in block lettering to the left of the center arbor. His working location of “New York” is written in an old English font and is positioned to the right of the center arbor.

The weight driven movement is constructed in brass and is good quality.  Four turned pillars support the two brass plates. Hardened steel shafts support the polished steel pinions and brass gearing. The winding drums are grooved. The escapement is designed as 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 movement may be English made?

This veneered and inlaid mahogany case is attributed to John and or Thomas Seymour of Boston, Massachusetts. It exhibits excellent proportions. The base proudly stands on an applied bracket base that features large flared French feet. Please note the subtle shaping or flare incorporating small pads into the form. Theses feet are gently splayed in the manner consistant of Seymour construction. The feet and the central drop apron are visually separated from the base by a complicated line inlay pattern and a molding that steps back to the base section. The front of the base panel is veneered with a highly figured selection of mahogany. An inlaid framing of mahogany and light wood 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 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 brass stop fluted quarter columns. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet features an open fretwork design that is surmounted with three cast brass ball and spiked finials. The supporting plinths are inlaid along the outer edge. Each is also fitted with a cap at the top. Fully turned and brass stop fluted bonnet columns support the upper bonnet molding. These are mounted in brass capitals and flank the bonnet or hood door. The arched bonnet door is decoratively line inlaid and the opening is fitted with glass. It is interesting to note that the mask board is painted white and is trimmed with a brass border.

This wonderful clock was made circa 1810 and stands approximately 8 feet 9 inches ( 105 inches) tall to the top of the center finial. This is a very impressive height.

About Henry Griffen of New York, New York.

Henry Griffen is listed as a clockmaker working in New York and in Brooklyn in 1791 through 1818. Very little is known of his output. This clock seems to indicate that he had some ties to Boston. I would speculate that he ordered this clock from there and then painted his name on the dial.

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