Gardner Parker of Westborough, Massachusetts. No. 144. An inlaid mahogany-cased tall clock of the finest quality. 221004

This is an outstanding Massachusetts tall clock made by Gardner Parker of Westborough, Massachusetts (1772-1816). It is numbered on the dial, No. 144.

This superb case has fantastic proportions. The mahogany wood and veneers are vibrantly figured. The modern finish highlights the grain-rich patterns, which are a visual feast. The case is elevated on four shapely formed ogee bracket feet. They are applied to the bottom of the double-stepped molding. The base panel is framed with a cross-banded border. Multiple line inlay patterns define the interior panel, which features an exuberantly grained selection of crotch veneer. The waist section is long. The front corners are fitted with brass stop-fluted quarter columns. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. An applied molding frames the outer edge of the rectangularly shaped waist door. This door is also cross-banded and line inlaid in a pattern that is borrowed from the base section. The addition of an oval is centered in the door. The veneers selected for this location are also unique. This door opens to access the interior of the case. Inside, one will find the two tin can drive weights and the pendulum. The bonnet features a traditional New England-style fretwork. Three-line inlaid and paneled finial plinths support the three ball and spike brass finials. Fully turned and fluted bonnet columns are stopped with brass rods. These columns are mounted in brass capitals and positioned on either side of the door. The two shaped columns located at the back of the bonnet are neatly fitted into the corners. The sides of the hood are fitted with tombstone-shaped sidelights. The arched bonnet door is veneered, line inlaid and is fitted with glass. The dial mask is painted black, and the interior edge of this mask is trimmed with brass piping. The brass decoration here was initially added at an additional cost. The door opens to allow one access to the skillfully painted iron dial. 

This painted iron dial is signed by the Maker, "Gardner Parker," in script lettering. The location of the signature is positioned just below the month calendar aperture. It is also numbered inside the seconds register, "No 144." The four spandrel areas feature floral themes framed with traditional gilt designs. The time track is formatted with Arabic-style five-minute markers. These are separated from the Roman-style hour numerals by a dotted minute ring. Steel hands display the appropriate time. A painted scene is located in the arch. A woman is sitting in a field. She appears to be making floral wreaths from a basket of flowers she has gathered. 
This fine movement is constructed in brass and is of 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 for 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 mounted above the movement. 

This clock was made circa 1790 and stands approximately 7 feet 6 inches or 90 inches tall to the top of the center finial. Measured at the lower bonnet molding, this case is approximately 20.5 inches wide and 10.25 inches deep. It is inventory number 2210044.

About Gardner Parker of Westborough, Massachusetts.

Gardner Parker was born in Hubbardston, Massachusetts on March 14th, 1772. He died in Westborough by his own hand on February 16th, 1816. He was the son of Isaac and Marjory Parker. They were originally from Shrewsbury and moved to Hubbardston and then to Westborough in 1777. Gardner married Assenath Sherman of Grafton. They had one child. A son name Perley Parker was born in Grafton and married Betsey Mellen. Gardner is said to have been trained in the art of clockmaking by the Willards. Paul Foley in his book, Willard’s Patent Time Pieces, speculates that he was trained by Benjamin the oldest of the Willard clockmaking brothers. He lists numerous entries where they had an on going business relationship manufacturing clock components. Most of these were charged to Benjamin. In October of 1800, Parker purchases some land in Westborough. He set up a mill at the location that is now called “Parker’s Folly.” It was named this because the dam he constructed in order to hold water back failed. This may have been an attempt to apply water power to clockmaking. Later he advertises the ability of make all types of clocks including tower clocks. One such tower clock was installed in Westborough in 1801, one was installed in Arlington in 1808 and one in Shrewsbury in before 1816. There are also records of his building church organs. Parkers reputation was a man of nervous temperament. He would go days without sleep in order to finish a project. In February of 1816, his mind could longer handle the strain. He shot himself in a fit of despondency.

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