Benjamin Swan of Augusta, Maine. A tall case clock with a rocking ship automated dial.

A most beautiful tall case clock made by Benjamin Swan clockmaker, watchmaker & jeweler of Hallowell and more commonly 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 a jeweler from 1814 through 1867. During the War of 1812, he served as a Sergeant 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.

We have owned a fair number of clocks made by this maker. This is one of the more desirable examples in that it features a dial with an automated rocking ship in the arch.

This fine birch constructed case exhibits the traditional Augusta form and proportions and is highlighted with mahogany accents. This example retains a light finish that has mellowed over the years. This allows for a good contrast between the reddish coloring found in the birch and the deep brown tints in the mahogany. It is pleasing to the eye. This example stands on a tall cutout bracket base. The feet have very good height and flow into a simply shaped drop apron. The lower molding is a simple design and is applied to the base section on the three facing sides. The waist is long and narrow and features a rectangular waist door. This waist door features a mahogany cross banded border that is laid out just inside the applied door molding. Quarter columns are set into the corners of the waist. These are subtly shaped and aggressively decorated with ring turnings. These columns terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet is a fretwork style. This features a traditional Augusta pattern. Three reeded plinths each support a cast brass finial. The bonnet columns are turned and shaped. These are mounted 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 iron dial was paint decorated by the Boston ornamental artists, Spencer Nolen. The four spandrel areas are decorated with a warm color combination of gilt, reds, yellows and muted greens. The spandrel themes are of fruits and berries. The automated feature of a rocking ship is located in the arch of this dial. The painted ship is depicted flying the American flag. It actually moves or rocks gently from side to side with the motion of the pendulum. The painted scene behind the sailing ship includes a cottage which appear to be sitting out on a peninsula to the right. Stone cliffs are located to the left. This nautical theme is painted on a convex piece of metal which adds to the visual depth to the scene. 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.

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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