William Cummens of Roxbury, Massachusetts. Warranted for Mr. Nathaniel Frost. An important inlaid mahogany case tall clock.

This is an impressive Boston example that exhibits an oversized case that is well proportioned and incorperates the finest woods. It is constructed by the Boston school of cabinetmakers. This case measures approximately 108 inches tall to the top of the center finial. The dial is 13 inches across.

This figured mahogany case is lined inlaid. The case stands on four nicely formed flared French feet. The feet are applied the bottom of the base. The base panel features a selection of crotch veneer that is formatted in a verticle position. This panel is also delicately line inlaid with a string that features cut out corners. The long rectangular shaped waist door is also vertical grained. The pattern is consistant with that found in the base panel. The door is also fitted with an applied molding that frames the outside edge. One would open this door in order to gains access to the inside of the case where the pendulum and weights are located. The sides of the case are fitted with the traditionally formatted brass stop fluted quarter columns. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet is a pierced and open fret work form and is surmounted with three large brass ball and spiked finials. These finials are supported on fluted plinths. Fully turned and brass stop fluted bonnet columns support the upper bonnet molding. They are mounted in brass capitals and are free standing. The arched bonnet door is fitted with glass and opens to access the painted iron dial.

This iron dial is of Boston manufacture and is very colorfully paint decorated. It is signed on the back by the artist. It is signed “SN” (Spencer Nolen).

Spencer Nolen was born in Roxbury in 1784. Paul Foley suggests in his book, “Willard’s Patent Time Pieces,” that Nolen may have been trained by, or worked with John Ritto Penniman. Nolen was well connected with the Willards. He married Aaron Willards daughter Nancy, in 1808 and had a partnership with her Father under the name Willard & Nolen. Nolen died in Philadelphia on June 17, 1849.

The arch of the dial depicts a water wheel sceen. This was a popular theme for Nolen. We have owned several clocks with very similar scenes. The four spandrel areas feature decorative medallions that are set on an intesteing field of color. The hours, minutes, and seconds are all displayed in a traditional format. This dial does not display the calendar day. The Maker’s name, “WM CUMMENS” is centered below the winding arbors. It is also displays the original owners name “WARRANTED FOR MR. NATHANIEL FROST “ in large block lettering just inside the upper section of the time ring.

A google search for Nataniel frost produces the partneship of Seaver and Frost (William Seaver and Nathaniel Frost), Boston area chair makers working circa 1790 -1803. There was also a Nathiel Frost who was a sea captian from Gorham, Maine.

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 beautiful clock was made circa 1800. It stands approximately 9 feet tall to the top of the center finial. It is 20.5 inches wide and 10 inches deep.

About William Cummens of Roxbury, Massachusetts.

William Cummens was born 1768 and died on April 20, 1834 at the age of 66. He worked in Roxbury as a clockmaker as early as 1789 through 1834. He was trained by Simon Willard and along with Elnathan Taber, Cummens stayed in Roxbury and made many clocks for his own clients while maintaining a close working relationship with the Willard family. In this Roxbury location, Cummens had direct access to the same suppliers, such case makers and dial painters that the Willards used. As a result, his clocks are very similar in form. He was one of the first persons authorized by Simon Willard to manufacture the new patent timepiece. Over the past 45 plus years in business, we have owned and sold many tall case clocks, Massachusetts shelf clocks and wall timepieces signed by this important clockmaker. Very few tall case examples are found with his original set up label.

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