Benjamin Swan of Augusta, Maine. A classic Maine tall case clock with excellent narrow proportions and retaining its original red wash finish.
This Birch wood case exhibits the traditional Augusta form and is unusual in that it retains what appears to be the original red wash finish. The finish is dry and is in very good condition. This case stands tall on a cutout bracket base that exhibits excellent height and a simply developed drop apron. An applied molding around three side of the base visually separates the feet from the base. The front panel on the base is designed with a large inset panel, The interior of the framing is trimmed with a molded edge. The waist is long and narrow and features a rectangular waist door. This waist door is trimmed with a molded edge along its perimeter. A cross banded mahogany border frames the veneered bird's-eye maple panel. The quarter columns are set into the corners of the waist. These are smoothly turned, subtly shaped and decorated with ring turnings. They terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet is fitted with a traditional Augusta fretwork pattern. Three finely reeded plinths support the three brass finials. The bonnet columns are also smoothly turned, shaped and decorated with ring turnings. These are mounted in brass capitals. The columns flank the bonnet door which is arched glazed opening to a very colorfully painted dial.
This dial was painted in Boston by Spencer Nolen. The use of bright reds and greens are vibrant and contrast nicely with the finish on the case. In the arch is a large ornament. Florals and swags decorated the scene. The spandrel areas are decorated with raised gesso patterns that are painted in gilt. The central theme here is a red apple. A gilt circle frames the time ring. Roman numerals are used to 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. The working location of "AUGUSTA" is printed in smaller block lettering. The steel hands are wonderfully formed. They are quite intricate.
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 approximately 7 feet 7.5 inches tall. This clock is inventory number VV-27.
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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