James C. Cole of Rochester, New Hampshire. A birch case tall clock. PP162.

This tall case clock exhibits traditional New England proportions. It is constructed in birch and retains its original red wash. It is also a manageable size measuring approximately 7 feet 10 inches tall to the top of the center finial. It is 20.5 inches wide and 9.75 inches deep.

This case stands on a cut out bracket base. The feet retain excellent height and the scrolled apron that connects them is subtly formed. The waist section is long. A large rectangular waist door is centered in this section of the case. The door is trimmed with a molded edge. Through this door, one can access the weights and pendulum. The sides of the case are fitted with smoothly turned quarter columns. These terminate in brass mounted quarter capitals. The bonnet is surmounted with an open fret work pattern. The three reeded chimney plinths are capped at the top and each supports a brass ball and spike finial. The bonnet columns are also turned smooth. These are free standing and mounted into brass capitals. They flank the arched door which is fitted with glass.

The iron dial is decoratively painted. The four spandrel areas are decorated with colorful floral themes. The arch of this dial features a lunar calendar or moon phase mechanism. The time track is formatted with Roman numeral hour markers and Arabic numerals are used to mark the five minute increments of the hours. With in the time track is a subsidiary seconds dial and a day of the month calendar. This dial is signed by the clockmaker. The signature has faded. It the right light, one can plainly see that it was signed "James C. Cole / ROCHESTER / N. H." This signature is positioned just below the calendar aperture.

This fine movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. The four turned pillars that support the two brass plates are steel. Both plates have been aggressively cut or shaped in an attempt to conserve brass. 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 1800.

Inventory Number PP-162.

About James Cole of Rochester, New Hampshire.

James Charles Cole was born in Boston in 1791 and died in Rochester, NH, in 1867. At an early age, James traveled from Boston to Rochester to learn the trade of clockmaking with Edward S. Moulton. Moulton is listed as moving from Rochester to Saco, Maine, in 1813. In Rochester, James married Betsey Nutter, daughter of John D. Nutter and Hannah Dennett. Betsey Nutter was born on 27 Mar 1802 in Barnstead, NH. Her younger brother John learned clockmaking in Rochester as well. James fathered two sons and three daughters and became a prominent citizen. As well as manufacturing many clocks, James was an active silversmith and repaired watches and jewelry. He was also involved in town affairs serving on a committee to build a new church. He was a trustee of a local savings bank. He did a ten-year term as the secretary to the Masonic lodge. James also found time to serve 13 years as town clerk and two years in the State legislature. We have owned numerous examples of tall case clocks, banjo clocks, and New Hampshire mirror clocks with his signature on the dial. Based on the large numbers we have seen and owned, James Cole must have been a successful clockmaker.

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