Isaac Pearson of Burlington, New Jersey. A tiger maple tall cased clock. Considered by many to be New Jersey's first Clockmaker. ZZ-51

This is an important tiger maple cased tall clock made by Isaac Pearson of Burlington, New Jersey. Pearson is considered by many to be New Jersey’s first clockmaker. Very few American Pre-Revolutionary clocks were made in this country and fewer have survived. This 260 year old American clock is a very fine example. The case retains an older re-finished surface. The color is excellent.

This style of dial predates the painted dial form. It is composed of a brass sheet and is decorated with a number of decorative elements. Four cast corner spandrels frame the applied time ring. These feature a woman’s head as the central theme. There are two additional spandrels in the arch. These dolphin themed castings center a circular shaped ring that is engraved with the positions of Silent / Strike. The hand located in the center of this ring is used to turn on or off the striking mechanism of the clock. The silvered time or chapter ring, features Arabic style five minute markers, a closed minute ring and large Roman style hour numerals. Inside this ring the dial surface has been textured. Here one will also find a display for the calendar day through the small square hole and the applied subsidiary seconds dial. This dial is also engraved. A large plaque is engraved with the Maker’s name extends from 4:45 up over the calendar display window and returns to approximately 7:15 on the time ring. This engraved name plate reads. "Isaac Pearson." The hands are wonderfully hand filed. This dial is very well made.

The two train movement is brass, eight-day duration and is good quality. Five turned pillars or posts support the two large cast 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. The strike train is designed 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 bell stand.

This early American case is supported on a boldly formed applied bracket base. This cutout design rests on four pad feet. A simple drop pendant is centered in the design. The base section is somewhat compressed. This is a common design detail for clock cases manufactured in the Colonies during this early period. You should also note the tiger-maple striping exhibited in the grain of the wood. The waist section is long and centers a large tomb-stone shaped waist door. This door is trimmed along its perimeter with a simple molded edge. It is hinged and opens to allow one access to the interior of the case. This is where one will find the two drive weights and the brass faced pendulum bob. This door and the framing exhibit additional areas of tiger-maple grain striping. The large bonnet features a caddy or sarcophagus top. This style of bonnet is also an early form. The sarcophagus positioned on this clock has been recreated. It is very well designed and the construction is consistent with the cabinetry used in the main structure of the hood. Please review the front corners of the bonnet and notice the exposed dovetails. The corners of the caddy top are constructed in the same fashion. This caddy rises up and back with the use of a large ogee molding terminating in a flat top. Three finial plinths each support a turned wooden finial that is in the form of an urn. The caddy top is positioned above cornice molding. This molding is complex and exhibits bold tiger grain striping. The molded arch is visually supported by turned hood columns or colonettes. These are smoothly turned and shaped out of boldly figured tiger maple wood. They are attached to the hood door. Additional columns, quarter columns are positioned at the back of the hood. A tomb-stone shaped side light, fitted with glass allows one to view the mechanism. The bonnet door is arched in form and opens to access the composite brass dial.

This clock was made circa 1740 and stands approximately 8 feet 2 inches (98 inches) tall to the top of the finials, 20.25 inches wide and 10.5 inches deep at the cornice molding. This clock is pictured in The AMERICAN CLOCK. A comprehensive Pictorial Survey 1723-1900 with a listing of 6,153 Clockmakers written by William H. Diston and Robert Bishop on page 27 plate no. 36.


About Isaac Pearson of Burlington, New Jersey.

Isaac Pearson of Burlington, New Jersey. A blacksmith, iron-master, button manufacturer silversmith, goldsmith and master clockmaker and watchmaker. He was a Quaker.

Isaac Pearson is considered by many to be New Jersey’s first clockmaker. It is thought that his first clock was made sometime around 1705 – 1710. He was a man of many talents. Throughout is life he was active in politics. He served as a state Assemblyman, state Essay Master of weights and measures and as a Seal Master. He was the proprietor of the Mount Holly Ironworks on the Rancorous Creek east of Pine Street. Issac married twice. He married Hannah Gardiner in 1710. On 17 May 1740, his daughter Sarah from his first wife married Joseph Hollinshead. Issac and Joseph formed a partnership, Pearson & Hollinshead in about that year called. Issac married a second time in 1746. This time to Rebecca Lovett. Issac died about 1749. He willed his clockmaking, watchmaking and silversmithing tools to his son and law Joseph.

Very few clocks are currently known. One fine example of his work is in the collections of the Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Delaware.

For more information about this clock click  here .