Connecticut River Valley cherry case tall clock. Walpole, New Hampshire. (Isaiah Eaton?)

This late 18th century tall case clock features a very interestingly formatted case that is constructed in cherry. This case is distinctive in that it features a very unusual foot design. This case stands on five feet. This unusual foot design has been found on at least three other cherry case tall clock examples. One example is currently in the collection at Historic-Deerfield and is on display upstairs in the Flynt Center of Early New England Life. That clock features an engraved silvered dial that is signed by the Walpole, New Hampshire clockmaker Isaiah Eaton. A second signed example is currently in our inventory. The brass dial on this second example is also engraved and treated with a silver wash. This clock is signed by the Charlestown, New Hampshire clockmaker Stephen Hasham. A third example is also owned by us. Of the three it is the most similar. This example and the clock shown share the same case form and a number of decorative elements. They included the five footed molding that supports the case, the double step molding that is applied to the base panel, a decorative scalloped apron that hangs below the waist molding, boldly fluted quarter columns that terminate in turned wooden capitals, a large tombstone shaped waist door that features a carved fan in the center, Smoothly turned hood columns, shaped quarter columns are positioned in the back of the hood sides, tombstone shaped side lights a hood that is decorated with a pierced and open fret work pattern. These details are shared on both examples. They also feature painted iron dials that are executed in a similar, if not the same hand. The movements also appear to have been made in the same shop. Unfortunately, neither one of these painted dial examples is signed by the clockmaker. Interestedly, these two clocks both have Walpole histories of ownership.

This example has a number of graphite inscriptions located inside the case on the door and on the backboard that help trace the history of the clock. The most interesting of which is the following inscription. “ This clock was owned by Dr. Eb _____ Morse from Walpole, NH from about 1845 to 1869 When it was given to Henry L. Morse of Cambridge, Mass by his mother (Esther). Age of the clock not known.”

Ebenezer was the son of Reuben and Avigial (Mason) Morse of Dublin, NH. He was born on August 30, 1785. His father was a Revolutionary War soldier and a prominent citizen of Dublin. Dr. Morse graduated from Dartmouth College in 1810 and then the medical school in 1813. Once settled in Walpole he became a leading citizen by serving in many of the town offices. Thomas Bellows Peck describes him in his book “The Bellows Genealogy” as a man with a “keen sense of humor, great power of sarcasm, and a ready pen, which he employed in frequent contributions to the press. He had a talent for the production of humorous poetry, and a taste for local history and antiquities, and was the author of some historical articles that have been often quoted. His tall and Massive form, his rugged features, his humor and plainness of speech made him a marked personage in the community.” Ebenezer died December 30, 1863. He was the sixth doctor to practice in Walpole. Dr. Ebenezer Morse was married to Esther (Crafts) Morse in 1816. They had at seven children.

A son George was born in Walpole on August 27, 1821. He attended medical School at Dartmouth and eventually settled in Clinton, MA in 1846.

A daughter, Esther Crafts Morse was born on March 19,1830 and married John Hayward on June 2, 1851. Mrs John Hayward is described as a life long resident of Walpole and was identified with all the best interests of the community.

Henry Lewis was the youngest of the seven children. He was born October 1, 1832 and married Tarbell Homer in September of 1867. He lived in Boston and was the next owner of this clock.

This very nicely proportioned cherry case retains a historic surface. The case is elevated off the floor on a very unusual platform. It consists of a double step molding that is applied to the lower section of the base. The lower molding transitions into or forms five ogee bracket feet. The fifth foot is located in the center between the front two feet. All five feet are not applied to the molding. They are cut from the same piece of wood. This is an unusual presentation. The center foot has lost a little bit of its’ original height. All five feet are original to this clock and are nicely shaped. The base panel features a figured cherry board that formatted in a horizontal orientation. A scalloped molding hangs from below the lower waist molding. This decorative detail is often found on clocks that are made along the Connecticut River Valley and into Worcester, Massachusetts. The waist is section long. It is fitted with a large tombstone shaped waist door. This door is trimmed around the perimeter with an applied molding. A carved fan is centered in the door. This fan features 20 radiants. Open this door and one can access the pendulum and weights. The corners of the waist are fitted with boldly fluted quarter columns. These terminate in simply turned wooden quarter capitals. The hood is designed with a molded cornice. A pierced and open fret work pattern is positioned above the arched molding. This fret is supported by three finial plinths. Each of which supporting a brass ball and spike finial. The hood columns are turned smooth and mounted in brass capitals. These flank the arch formed hood door. This door is fitted with glass. Additional columns are located at the back of the hood. This hood is also fitted with large tombstone shaped side lights.

The painted dial is of local origin. It is iron and made from multiple pieces that were seemed together and cut into this traditional shape. This suggests that it was not made by a professional dial maker. This is also true of the artwork. The artist’s hand is looser and less refined than the artwork found being done in Boston, MA and also in Birmingham, England at this time. This dial has a folk art quality to it. The spandrel decorations include strawberries as a primary theme. In the arch is a portrait of an unidentified woman who is very well dressed. I would speculate that she must be a local resident familiar to the artist or even the original owner of the clock. The time is displayed in a traditional format. The hours are depicted in Roman style hour numerals. Each of the five minute markers are depicted in an Arabic form. A subsidiary seconds dial and calendar dial are located inside the time ring. Nicely shaped steel hands will indicate the time.

This movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. It is nicely finished. The large brass plates are supported by four turned posts. The plates have a rounded cutout at the bottom. This was often done to conserve brass. The front plate is fitted with a horizontal cross member that is interestingly shaped. This is a nice decorative detail. This cross member supports the calendar gearing. This arrangement interacts with the display on the dial once every 12 hours. 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 on a post.

This case has the following dimensions: 93.15 inches tall to the top of the center finial. It is 21 inches wide and 10.5 inches deep at the upper bonnet molding. It was made circa 1810.

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