William Cummens. A clockmaker working in Roxbury, Massachusetts. An inlaid mahogany tall case clock with exceptional (Super model type) proportions. OO2

This is a fine inlaid mahogany case tall clock that exhibits excellent narrow proportions and is fitted with a moon phase painted dial signed by the Roxbury, Massachusetts Clockmaker, William Cummens.

William Cummens was born in 1768 and died on April 20, 1834, at the age of 66. He worked in Roxbury as a clockmaker as early as 1789. Here he was trained by Simon Willard, and along with Elnathan Taber, Cummens stayed in Roxbury and worked alongside the Willard clockmaking family. It is thought that he worked for Simon for many years. This must have been a beneficial relationship because today, we see many clocks that are signed by Cummens, which must have been manufactured for his own clients. In this Roxbury location, Cummens had direct access to the same Willard suppliers, such as case makers and dial painters. As a result, his clocks are very similar in form. Cummens was one of the first persons authorized by Simon Willard to manufacture the new patent timepiece. Over the past 40 plus years of being in the business of buying and selling clocks, we have owned and sold a substantial number of tall case clocks, Massachusetts shelf clocks and wall timepieces signed by this important clockmaker.

This is a very attractive clock having long narrow proportions. The case exhibits a traditional Roxbury form and construction characteristics made famous by the Willard family of clockmakers. This case is constructed in mahogany, and New England white pine is used as a secondary wood. We should also point out that it is decorated with tin light line inlays and quarter fans. The current shellac-based finish is an older surface and is in excellent condition. The color and depth are to be admired. This example stands on four nicely formed applied ogee bracket feet. These are applied to a double-stepped molding that is attached to the base. The base panel is line inlaid. This delicate string detail forms a box or conforms to the square shape of the base. This pattern is repeated in the long tombstone-shaped waist door and also in the hood door. The front base panel is also decorated with inlaid quarter fans. All four fans are comprised of seven individual petals. They alternate in light and dark selections of wood. This is a very attractive detail. The base panel features a grain pattern with long sweeping vertical lines. The waist section of this clock case is fitted with a line inlaid tombstone-shaped waist door. This door is trimmed with an applied molding along its perimeter. Through this door, one can access the case’s interior. Here you will find the original tin can weights and pendulum. Brass stopped fluted quarter columns flank the sides or front corners of the waist. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet columns are also stopped fluted with brass and are fitted into brass capitals. These are free-standing and visually support the molded arch. A pierced and open fretwork design surmounts the top of the bonnet. It incorporates three brass ball and spiked finials that are mounted on fluted chimney plinths. The arched bonnet door is also lined inlaid and is fitted with glass. It opens to access the painted iron dial.

This painted dial is signed by the clockmaker below the calendar aperture. It reads, “Wm. CUMMENS.” This signature is original to this clock. A moon phase mechanism is featured in the arch or lunette of this dial. This mechanism tracts the lunar calendar, which is 29.5 days in duration. The time is displayed in a traditional format. Roman numerals mark the hours, and Arabic numerals are used to indicate the five-minute markers and ten-second increments on the seconds dial. The four spandrel areas are decorated in one color. This design is somewhat different from the more commonly found floral-themed tall clock dials. The steel hands are hand filed to a wonderfully form.

The 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 which is mounted above the movement. The strike hammer is returned to the ready position via a coil spring. This clock retains its original tin cans, weights and pendulum.

This clock was made circa 1795 and stands an impressive 8 feet 4 inches tall. It is inventory number OO-2.

About William Cummens of Roxbury, Massachusetts.

William Cummens was born 1768 and died on April 20, 1834 at the age of 66. He worked in Roxbury as a clockmaker as early as 1789 through 1834. He was trained by Simon Willard and along with Elnathan Taber, Cummens stayed in Roxbury and made many clocks for his own clients while maintaining a close working relationship with the Willard family. In this Roxbury location, Cummens had direct access to the same suppliers, such case makers and dial painters that the Willards used. As a result, his clocks are very similar in form. He was one of the first persons authorized by Simon Willard to manufacture the new patent timepiece. Over the past 45 plus years in business, we have owned and sold many tall case clocks, Massachusetts shelf clocks and wall timepieces signed by this important clockmaker. Very few tall case examples are found with his original set up label.

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