A most beautiful tall case clock made by Benjamin Swan clockmaker, watchmaker & jeweler of Hallowell and Augusta, Maine.
This fine formal mahogany case exhibits the traditional Augusta form and proportions. The fact that it is constructed in mahogany is unusual. The typical case woods used in this region are indigenous. Woods such as birch, maples and cherry wood are more commonly used in the construction of furniture in this region. The mahogany used in this example must have been requested as a special order. Please note the long gentle grain pattern found throughout the case construction. This example retains an older finish that has mellowed over the years and is now pleasing to the eye. This example stands tall on a cutout bracket base. The feet have very good height and flow into a nicely developed apron. The lower molding is a simple design and is applied to three sides of the base section. The front surface of the base is fitted with an inset panel which is trimmed with a molded edge. The waist is long and narrow and features a rectangular waist door to access the interior of the case. This waist door features a broad mahogany cross banded border and is trimmed with a simple molded edge. Quarter columns are set into the corners of the waist and are decorated with ring turnings. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet features a pierced an open fretwork style pattern. This is a traditional Augusta pattern. The three finial plinths are surmounted with brass ball and spike finials. The bonnet columns are turned and end in brass capitals. They flank the arched bonnet door which is fitted with glass and opens to a colorfully painted dial of Boston origin.
This colorfully painted dial features a moon phase or lunar calendar in the arch. The four spandrel areas are decorated with seashells. A gilt circle frames the time ring. Roman numerals mark the hours. Arabic numerals are use to indicated the quarter hours only. The interior of the dial features a subsidiary seconds dial and a calendar dial. This clock is also signed by the Maker in this general location. The signature is written in a lovely script format. After viewing this, one could easily argue that Benjamin Swan was very proud of his this clock. The working location of "Augusta" is printed in smaller block lettering.
This movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. It is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is 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 clock was made circa 1810. It stands 7 feet 9 inches tall. It is most reasonably priced at $14,000.
About Benjamin Swan of Augusta, Maine.
Benjamin Swan, the son of Francis and Abigail (Eliot) Swan was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts on January 15, 1792. Sometime in 1808, the Swan family moved from Haverhill to Augusta, Maine. Previously, a number of Haverhill residents had made this same move. One of which was Frederic Wingate who had establish a clock business in that town as early as 1803. It is Wingate who is thought to have trained Benjamin Swan in the art of clock making. Benjamin worked both in Augusta and the town of Hallowell as a clockmaker, a silversmith and as a jeweler in 1814 through 1867. During the War of 1812, Benjamin served in the military as a Sergeant and was stationed in Wiscasset. In this year he also marries Hannah Smith of Hallowell. They had ten children. Benjamin Swan died in Augusta on November 27, 1867. Tall case clocks, Massachusetts shelf clocks, banjo clocks and mirror clocks are known.
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