A fine country case tall clock made by Benjamin Swan. Clockmaker, watchmaker & jeweler of Hallowell and Augusta, Maine. UU-35

This country tall case clock was made by Benjamin Swan, clockmaker, watchmaker & jeweler of Hallowell, and more commonly, Augusta, Maine.

We have owned a fair number of clocks made by this Maker. I consider this example one of the more country examples exhibiting excellent proportions and being constructed in a variety of indigenous New England woods. They include birch, maple, tiger maple, and New England white pine.

This fine case exhibits the traditional Augusta form and proportions and retains an appropriate shellac finish that is now pleasing to the eye. This example stands tall on a cut-out bracket base. The feet have very good height and flow into a nicely developed apron. The lower molding is a simple design and is applied to three sides of the base section. The front surface of the base is fitted with an inset panel trimmed with a molded edge. The waist is long and narrow and features a rectangular waist door to access the case’s interior. This waist door features a broad cross-banded border and is trimmed with a simple molded edge. The center panel is veneered with bird’s-eye maple and is naturally a very light wood. The two panels beneath the quarter columns are also fitted with this interestingly figured wood. The contrast in color, as compared to the rest of the case, commands one attention. Quarter columns are set into the corners of the waist and are decorated with several ring turnings. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet features a pierced and open fretwork style pattern. This is a traditional Augusta pattern. The three finial plinths are surmounted with brass ball and spike finials. The bonnet columns are turned and end in brass capitals. They flank the arched bonnet door, which is fitted with glass and opens to a colorfully painted dial of Boston origin.

This colorfully painted dial is decorated with swags in the arch and fruit in the four spandrel areas. These decorations are highlighted with raised gesso patterns that are finished in gilt paint. A gilt circle frames the time ring. Roman numerals mark the hours. Arabic numerals are used to indicate the quarter hours only. The interior of the dial features a subsidiary seconds dial and a calendar dial. The Maker also signs this clock in this general location. The signature is written in a lovely script format. After viewing this, one could easily argue that Benjamin Swan was very proud of his this clock. The working location of “Augusta” is printed in smaller block lettering.

This movement is constructed in brass and is of good quality. It is weight-driven and designed to run for eight days on a full wind. It is 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 1815. It stands 7 feet 7.5 inches tall.


About Benjamin Swan of Augusta, Maine. Clockmaker, Watchmaker Silversmith and Jeweler.

Benjamin Swan, the son of Francis and Abigail (Eliot) Swan was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts on January 15, 1792. Sometime in 1808 the Swan family moved from Haverhill to Augusta, Maine. Previously, a number of Haverhill residents had made this same move. One of which was Frederic Wingate who had establish a clock business in that town as early as 1803. It is Wingate who is thought to have trained Benjamin Swan in the art of clock making. Benjamin worked both in Augusta and the town of Hallowell as a clockmaker, a silversmith and a jeweler from 1814 through 1867. During the War of 1812, he served as a Sergeant stationed in Wiscasset. In this year he also marries Hannah Smith of Hallowell. They had ten children. One of which, Moses Moody Swan worked with his father about 1818. Benjamin Swan died in Augusta on November 27, 1867. Tall case clocks, Massachusetts shelf clocks, banjo clocks and mirror clocks are known to us. A watch is known that is signed B & MM Swan. This is a product of Benjamin and his son Moses Moody.

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