Thomas Crow of Wilmington, Delaware. John Erwin cabinetmaker.

This is a very fine clock made by Thomas Crow of Wilmington, Delaware. The case is attributed to John Erwin. This fine example was made circa 1790.

This case was made in the shop of the Erwin Family. This is according to Charles Gilpin Dorman, author of "Delaware Cabinet Makers" written in 1960. The use of a recessed door panel and base panel are trademarks of cased clocks made in this shop. John Erwin, worked from the 1750's until the early 1790's. His son James worked with him as early as the 1770's. James took over the family business after John Erwin retired. The Erwin's were often called upon to case many of Thomas Crow's clocks. They always chose outstanding pieces of figured wood for the fronts of their clock cases. A similar case is illustrated in DELAWARE CLOCKS written by Philip D. Zimmerman. It is illustrated on page 49. That clock was also advertised by David Stockwell in Antiques 128, no. 4 (October 1985). 555.

This well proportioned example stands on boldly formed ogee bracket feet. The front panel used in the construction of the base is recessed and is nicely figured. The waist section is quite long which accentuates the proportions. It is fitted with a nicely shaped waist door. This waist door also features a recessed panel. The wood selected for this use is quite good having a crotch grain pattern. The bonnet features a swan's neck design that terminate in two wonderfully carved wooden rosettes. Three turned wooden finials surmount this case. Four fully turned bonnet columns are fitted on the four corners of this hood. The hood door is arched and fitted with glass. It is hinged and opens to access the painted iron dial.

This painted dial is fitted to the movement with a false plate. This dial is signed by the clockmaker in an unusual location. It is signed just above the hour twelve on the time track. It reads, "Thomas Crow – Wilmington." The spandrel areas are decorated with gilt design that features urns that are oriented in a vertical fashion. Much of design is raised off the surface of the dial with applied gesso. The dial displays the hours with Roman numerals. The five minute markers are an Arabic form. A subsidiary seconds dial and the calendar date are displayed inside the time ring.

This fine 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. Thomas Crow was in the habit of carefully inscribing his heavily constructed movements, especially those having the newly introduced white enameled iron dials with the words " MADE BY THOMAS CROW." This was often followed by "WILMINGTON" and then less commonly the date of manufacture. This particular clock bears the inscription on the front plate: "Made by Thomas Crow / January 1790."

This clock stands and impressive 8 feet 4 inches tall. It is inventory number LL-115.

About Thomas Crow of Wilmington, Delaware.

Thomas Crow was the son of George Crow who was also a Wilmington, Delaware clockmaker. Thomas appears to have been involved in clockmaking as early as 1770. He becomes one of Delaware’s most prolific and best known clockmakers. He is recorded to have served the public in several local government positions. In 1805, he moves through Philadelphia and later to West Chester, Pennsylvania during the period 1808 to 1810. One can find examples of his work in the collections of Winterthur Museum and the Briggs Museum of Art.

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