Cornelius Miller of Elizabeth Town, New Jersey
This is a very rare clock. The case is typical of the Queen Anne form that was popular until the American Revolution. The case is constructed in Gumwood which is sometimes called “Sugar pine.” Gumwood is a closed grain hard wood that is somewhat light colored with occasional dark brown streaks. This examples retained a wonderful original finish that is in keeping with the early form. This example stands on a cut out bracket base. A large molding is applied to the base panel. A relief cut in the front forms the feet. The waist is section is long. It is fitted with a large tombstone shaped waist door. This door was never fitted with a lock. The bonnet retains it's original caddy top. Very few bonnets have survived with this architectural feature in tact. It is easy to speculate that this example retains it's original form because it measures a mere 81 inches in overall height which is consider a diminutive size for a tall case example. Four turned bonnet column are incorporated in the bonnet design. The front two are mounted directly or attached to the arched bonnet door. This door opens to access a composite brass dial that is signed by the Maker.
This style of brass dial predates the painted dial form. It is composed of a brass sheet that is decorated with applied cast brass spandrels, applied and engraved name boss and an engraved time or chapter ring. The name boss, which is located in the arch of the dial is signed by the Maker “Cornelius Miller” in a script format. It is interesting to compare this boss to those that are signed with his father’s name. They are decorated in a similar manner.
The movement is constructed in brass having roughly cast brass plates which are supported by smoothly turned steel posts. The gearing is brass and the pinions are steel. The plates are notched at the bottom and the back plate is notched in the upper corner. It is thought that this was done in an attempt to conserve brass material. The movement is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. This clock strikes the hour on a bell. The strike train is located between the plates and is actuated by a simple count wheel design. The countwheel is attached to the strike barrel or the main wheel of the strike train. It is interesting to note that both of of the winding barrels are constructed of wood.
This clock is inventory number MM-181.
About Cornelius Miller
Cornelius Miller was the son of the now well known Elizabeth Town clockmaker Aaron Miller. Aaron was one of the earliest clockmakers in the state of New Jersey advertising and constructing clocks as early as 1747. Very little is known of son Cornelius. It is thought that his father trained him as a clockmaker. Aaron also trained his son-in law-Isaac Brokaw who produced numerous clocks. Cornelius on the other produced very few. I am not currently aware of another Cornelius Miller tall case example to have survived. Cornelius Miller died in 1779, the same year his father past.
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