An inlaid cherry case tall clock attributed to the Stillman family of clockmakers working in Westerly, Rhode Island.

This inlaid cherry cased example has nice country proportions and a very interesting inlay presentation. This case has been recently refinish and exhibits an excellent warm color. This fine example stands on slightly flared French feet. These transition into a nicely shaped apron. The base panel is framed along the outer edge with a thin string inlaid border. The cherry wood selected for the panel is nicely modeled. A circular triple line inlay is centered in the base. This also centers a circular inlay pattern that features a floral arrangement inlaid on a dark mahogany background. The waist section is also decoratively inlaid. The waist door is shaped at the top. It is framed with a double light line inlay pattern that conforms to the shape of the door. A large oval pattern using a triple line design is centered here. Smoothly turned columns are fitted into the sides of the waist. This area is also framed with a line inlay. In addition, dark mahogany ovals, four in total, are positioned above and below the columns. The bonnet is swan’s neck form. The arches are somewhat compressed and are fitted with moldings. These terminate in turned wooden rosettes. Three plinths are inlaid with floral designs. A brass ball and spike finial is fitted above each panel. Smoothly turned and shaped bonnet columns visually support the upper bonnet molding. These are free standing. The arched bonnet line inlaid door is also fitted with glass and opens to access the painted iron dial.

This painted dial is very colorful. The time track features hours that are indicated in Roman numerals. The five minute markers are painted in an Arabic form. A subsidiary seconds dial and month calendar can be seen inside the time ring. Each of the four spandrels areas are decorated with raised gesso work which is highlighted in gilt paint. These frame colorful floral patterns. A large bird with blue wings is depicted in the arch.

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.

This clock was made circa 1810. The height of this example to the top of the center finial is 94 inches tall. The case is 19.5 inches wide and 10.25 inches deep at the lower bonnet molding.

In 2017, an exhibition was put on at Yale university by Patricia E. Kane called Art & Industry in Early America. Rhode Island Furniture, 1650-1830. In that exhibition was a tall case clock that was said to have been made by Paul Stillman of Westerley, Rhode Island in 1807. It is also an unsigned clock but does have or retain its’ original bill of sale. That clock is now pictured and described in the catalog that was produced from the event. The bill of sale reads: “ Westerly December 8th 1807 / Mr. Thos Noyes 2d to / Paul Stillman Dr to an / $ [cen}ts/ Eight day Clock 38-00 / to a Clock case 30-00 / to a glass for clock head 00,75 / $68,75 / Received payment in full / Paul Stillman.” This clock case is very similar in form and proportion to the case discussed above. Unfortunately the movement is not pictured. A second example that shares this case form was found by us in 2015. That clock was signed on the snail of the movement: “Barton Stillman No. 4 AD 1814.” It can be seen here; http://www.delaneyantiqueclocks.com/products/detail/205/. Please note the the similarity in case form and inlay presentation. Also notice the similarity of the distinctive shape of the four movement posts that frame the movement. It is from these two clocks that the clock described above gets it attribution.

About Barton Stillman of Burlington, Connecticut and Westerly, Rhode Island.

Barton Stillman son of Joseph and Eunice (Stillman) Stillman. His birth date is unknown. His brother Paul was born in 1782 and died in 1810. His Cousin William Stillman is a better known Clockmaker from the same area. The family was known as a family of inventors. Barton is listed as working in Burlington, Connecticut in 1790 through 1795. He is then listed in Westerly in 1810.

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