A cross-banded mahogany grandfather clock of New York state origin. This clock case is attributed to the cabinetmaking firm of Wood & Taylor. XXSL56

This attractive mahogany and mahogany veneered case exhibits excellent figured wood selections throughout the construction of the case. The finish has been recently restored. It now to captures the beauty of the grain exhibited in the wood. The color is rich, warm and inviting. The form is familiar. There is a group of cases that were made in Florida, New York. Initially working in New York City, Robert Wood and James S. or Jacob Taylor moved out of the city in order to escape a small pox epidemic that raged across New York City in the summer of 1810. They moved to Florida where they are listed as residents in the 1810 Orange County census. According to the New York City directories, Robert Wood is registered as a cabinetmaker 1808-1811 and James S. Taylor’s dates are 1802-1804 and 1812-1819. Jacob Taylor, who may have been the other partner, is recorded working in 1808 in New York City. He appears again in the 1820 Federal census living in Goshen, New York, six miles from Florida, but in the same census Robert Wood has returned to New York City.? This high fashion case features many of their design characteristics.

This case stands on four flared French style feet that elevated it off the floor. The flare is aggressive. A double drop apron hangs below the base. The feet and the base are separated by a dark line of inlay. The front panel is framed with a cross-banded border. The corner treatment is interesting in that the corners are reversed by using larger blocks in the corners of the cross-banding. The veneer selected for this detail in nicely striped. The base panel features a richly grained crotch selection of mahogany veneer. This is positioned in a vertical format. The waist section is long and divided into three sections. The lower section features and Irish panel that is trimmed with an applied molding. This panel shares the same construction formatting found in the base panel. This waist door is long and is a compressed tomb-stone form. The outer edge is cross-banded in mahogany. The center panel also features a fantastic selection of crotch veneer. Through this door, one can access the weights and pendulum. Above the door is a small frieze. The book-matched veneer selected for this location is oriented in such a way that is radiates up and outwards. The sides of the case are fitted with quarter columns. These are turned smooth and veneered with figured mahogany. The columns terminate in turned wooden capitals at both ends. The bonnet is designed with a swans neck pediment. The tall and slender arches are nicely extended. They help center a brass urn shaped finial. This finial is mounted on a plinth that divides the bonnet frieze. The frieze also features a selection of wood that is striped with grain structure. The corners of the hood in this location are blocked out slightly. Above this detail are two additional urn shaped finials. Fully turned and shaped bonnet columns flank the arched glazed door. These columns are an unusual form. They are pinched in the middle with a a molding that forms a ring. It effectively divides the column in two sections. The lower section is fluted. The upper section is decorated with reeding. Both the fluting and reeding are carved details. The columns are mounted in fancy brass capitals.

This painted iron dial is a Boston product and was painted by the Nolen & Curtis dial manufactory. The beaded ring is a design aspect that they used occasionally. It defines the outer border of the ring ring. The quarter hour markers are demarked with Arabic numerals. The minute ring is divided with slashes. Large Arabic style numerals are used for the hours. This dial features automation in the arch in the form of a lunar calendar. The lunar calendar or moon phase mechanism is a mechanical almanac. This feature was most likely made on special order due to the extra work involved in producing it. This display would have been valuable to a number of occupations during the colonial era. Farmers were known to track the moon phase so they could anticipate the days that offered the most available moonlight. A bright night would be more beneficial to them in scheduling their tilling and harvesting of their fields. Sailors and merchants track the lunar phases in oder to know when the high tide would allow their ships to sail easily from port or when the fishing might be best. Numerous religious groups had an almost superstitious litany of rituals that were best performed in accordance with lunar events. The actual lunar month represents an inconvenient interval of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.8 seconds. A tall clocks lunar calendar is set constant at 29.5 days which represents a full cycle. As a result, a 9 hour setback is required at the end of a single year in order to keep the lunar display current. The four spandrel areas are colorfully decorated. The theme is a basket of fruit that includes watermelons, apples and grapes. This dial is in excellent original condition.

This fine movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. Four turned and slightly shaped pillars support the two brass plates. The brass plates feature a cutout at the bottom. The shape of which is interesting. Hardened steel shafts support the polished steel pinions and brass gearing. The winding drums are smooth. 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 fine example is nicely proportioned and stands approximately 96.5 inches tall to the top of the center finial. Measured at the upper hood molding, this clock is 20 inches wide and 10.25 inches deep. It was made circa 1815.


About Wood & Taylor New York cabinetmakers.

Robert Wood and James S. and or or Jacob S. Taylor were cabinetmakers who first worked independently in New York City during the period of 1808-1810. In 1810, they both fled the city during a smallpox epidemic. It is recorded that in 1810, they settled for a short period of time in the small village of Florida, New York which is located in Orange County. The New York City directories lists Robert Wood as a registered cabinetmaker working in New York in 1808-1818. A James Taylor is also listed in the city in 1802-1804 and again in 1812-1819. A 1820 census lists Wood as returning to New York City and Taylor working in Goshen, NY. The village of Goshen is located 5 miles from Florida. We now know of a small number of these clock cases that can be attributed to these cabinetmakers. Interestingly, a fair number of these cases are fitted with movements that feature a short pendulum and are attributed to the Newburgh, New York area. The Wood & Taylor form features narrow proportions and are coupled with the design format and layout of the numerous inlay patterns. The style is typical of Hepplewhite tall clocks made in New York or more properly New York City and northern New Jersey regions. The form is characterized by have high-pitched or elevated and very graceful or narrow swan-neck pediments, narrow waists and are usually fitted with French style feet. All of these cases seemed to have used heavily figured woods and many are elaborately inlaid to various tastes or budgets. The inlay patterns can be executed with simple highlighting of the various veneered forms or add to the overall complexity of the decoration in the form of complex stringing, a variety of panels, shells, stars, pinwheels, and urns. The wood used often included satinwood, ebony, rosewood, boxwood, mahogany and dyed wood samples. Today, there at least a dozen examples known that share very similar characteristics. These are all grounded by a clock that the New York Museum now owns. Their example retains a hand written label by the Wood & Taylor firm while working in Florida, New York. Since that clocks discovery, two others examples have been reported to have labels. These three labeled examples all share very similar inlaid decorations, including their signature star-decorated tympanums.

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