Peter Gift Jr. Clockmaker working in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. An inlaid mahogany case tall clock of superb design most likely made by the Reading cabinetmakers Daniel Rhein and or his apprentice or journeyman Henry Quast. 219111

This handsome 19th century Federal mahogany tall case clock is nicely proportioned. Similar clocks, in terms of their distinctive case presentation and form, have been found with their dials signed by other Kutztown and Reading, Pennsylvania Clockmakers. A signed Daniel Rose example is currently on display in the Berks County Center. A Benjamin Whitman example exists that was sold by Philip Bradley. A Daniel Oyster example was recently offered for sale by Adams Brown in Cranbury, NJ in 2020. And lastly, a fantastic example that is signed by the Reading clockmaker Jacob Diehl is displayed in the Americana Wing, Gallery 723, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. These cases are now thought to have been constructed by the Reading cabinetmakers Daniel Rhein and his apprentice or journeyman Henry Quast.

The extensive use of carefully chosen figured mahogany throughout the case design suggests that it was most likely made for a townhouse or a metropolitan customer. The surface is clean and the finish appears to be 50 or more years older.This case stands on four flared French feet. They exhibit excellent height and transition through a delicate scroll pattern from one to the next. The feet are separated from the base section by a tiger maple veneer. The base panel formatting is complex. Numerous decorative veneer patterns attract ones attention. The center section features a crotch veneered oval panel that is framed with a three line banding. The mahogany selected for the next section is book matched. The grain pattern features contrasting radiants that seem to shoot out and away from the center section. The outer edges of the base are veneered with strips of tiger maple that run the length of the base panel. The waist section is long and narrow. It features a number of very similar design elements that are also exhibited in the base. The wood selected in first rate. The waist door is a rectangular shape. The front corners of the waist are canted and feature tiger maple rectangular panels. Above the door is a decorative dark line intersecting pattern that is set into a tiger maple panel.

The bonnet features a stylized pediment top. The rayed pediment is wonderfully formatted. Three maple panels are the dominant theme. A turned wooden urn finial is fitted above each panel. Additional light line inlays divide the mahogany panels in triangular panels. Below the pediment is a cove molding, and ebony band, a broader tiger maple band and the and additional ebony banding. The frieze is line inlaid . The arched hood door is fitted with glass. Two turned wooden columns flank this door and are nicely shaped.

The 14 inch iron dial is brilliantly colored. It is currently thought that dials like this were painted by the Reading Artist Benjamin Whitman. This is a good example. The four spandrel areas are decorated with geometric patterns or fans. In the lunette is a lunar calendar or a phase of the moon display. Between the moons are two scenes. The first is a nautical scene. A fully rigged ship is depicted sailing across the dial. Opposing this is a is a woman in a full length gold dress and a matching head band. She is sitting on a grassy knowel with her left hand out coaxing a bird to land in her hand. Along the perimeter of the lunette is the additional decoration of a painted vine that includes several bunches of grapes and multiple florals. Centered here is a gentleman’s cubby face. The time ring features Arabic quarter hour markers. The minute ring is dotted. Large Arabic numerals are used to indicate the hours. From the center arbor, one will noticed the wonderfully form steel hour and minute hands. These are a match set. The sweep second hand is delicately formed and counter balanced. The month calendar is located in the traditional location. In place of the traditional subsidiary seconds dial is an automated rocking eagle that is depicted with its wings outstretched. This eagle will move gently in a side to side motion with the movement of the pendulum. This dial is directly mounted to the movement with four dial feet. It does not require the use of a false-plate.

This fine movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. Four turned brass pillars that are shouldered at the ends and feature ring turnings support the two brass plates. The brass plates feature round cutouts at the bottom. Hardened steel shafts support the polished steel pinions and brass gearing. The winding drums are smoothly turned. Each holds approximately eight days of winding cord. The escapement is a recoil format and is displayed with a sweep second hand. The movement is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is 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 bell stand.

This clock was made circa 1805. It stands an impressive 9 feet tall.


About Peter Gift Junior of Kutztown and Maxatawny, Pennsylvania.

Peter Gift Jr. was the eldest son of Peter Gift senior who immigrated from Germany in about 1750. He came to this new land to settle in Lynn Township, Northampton (now Lehigh) Pennsylvania. He was a trained clockmaker and was soon joined by his two brothers John Adam and Nicholas Gift. Peter Jr. was born in February of 1780 in Lynn Township. He married Miss Elizabeth Moyer who was born in September of 1783 in Maeungie township now Lehigh County. They had several children. Peter Jr is thought to have been trained as a clockmaker by his father. In 1806, Peter Jr moved from Lowhill Township to Kutztown, Berks Co. Peter carried on an extensive business. His clocks are highly prized. Family records claim that the town clock located in the tower of the court house in Reading PA was constructed by Peter Jr and was still in excellent running order in 1908. During the years spanning 1806 through 1816, he is listed as working in Maxatawny Township. Peter moved back to Kutztown because he was taxed there in 1817.

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