John Rogers of Newton, Massachusetts. A fine mahogany cased tall clock with a very unusual dial display and retaining power. TT59.

This sheet brass tall clock dial measures 13 inches across and is considered oversized compared to the more common 12 inch examples. The brass is engraved and the treated with a silver wash that is applied to the front surface. The engravings are skillfully executed and filled with black wax. The silver does not adhere to the wax and the contrast between the two colors is excellent. This dial features the very unusual combination of displaying the seconds, minutes, hours, day of the week, calendar day and the lunar calendar or phases of the moon. The "MOON’S AGE" is displayed in the arch of the dial. The two engraved moon faces are separated by a painted blue star-filled night sky. The time ring displays the hours in Roman numerals. The five minute markers are indicated in each of the hour positions in an Arabic format. In addition, the calendar day date is engraved on the inside of this ring. The days are numbered 1-31. As a result, the unusual arrangement of three hands mounted off the center arbor is required. The minute and hour hands are a traditional form. The sweep calendar hand is also filed from steel and in is the form of an arrow. Within the time ring, at its base, is the Makers name "John Rogers / Newton". In the center of the dial one will find a subsidiary seconds dial. Within its border is the inscription, "By faith improve / Each moment as it flies/ Consider what faith is / To him that Dies." Beneath the center of the dial and visible through a large keystone aperture is a subsidiary disc which rotates to reveal the corresponding day of the week and the engraved images of the Greek God and or Goddesses; Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and Mars, etc. associated for that day.

Behind the dial, is a brass weight driven movement. The two brass plates that frame the movement are supported with four turned posts. This framing is mounted on a seat or a saddle board. These plates are interesting because they retain a higher than normal copper content as is evident by the copper coloring. The front plate also is constructed in an usual shape. This plate has four ears or extensions that are designed to capture the dial feet. These feet are located in a position on the dial that is wider than the standard movement frame. The movement is designed to run eight days on a full wind. It will also strike each hour on a cast iron bell. The strike train is actuated by a rack and snail striking arrangement. One may also notice an unusual lever mounted on the right side of the movement plate. This steel lever is part of a maintaining or retaining power arrangement. The engagement arm is located in the slot in the right side of the dial. By depressing this arm, a spring loaded pawl engages the the teeth on the first wheel, providing forward pressure on the time train. One would engage this before winding the clock so that the movement continued to run forward while in the process of being wound. This is an ingenious design. A fair number of clocks made in London by Clockmakers such as Thomas Tompion and Daniel Quare are set up with a similar arrangement. This feature is very unusual or seldom seen on American made clocks of this hand craftsmanship era.

The mahogany case exhibits classic early pre-revolutionary New England proportions. This case stands up on four applied ogee bracket feet. These feet are nicely designed and elevate the case up off the floor. The base features a mahogany panel that has its grain pattern positioned in a vertical format The lower waist molding slightly overhangs this base panel. The waist section features a large tombstone shaped waist door that exhibits an excellent selection of wood that features its grain pattern in a vertical orientation. This door is trimmed with an applied molding. The front corners of the waist a decorated with a simple molded edge. The hood or bonnet bonnet is a pagoda or bell top form. The center is fitted with a cast brass decoration that is inset. The casting pattern is pierced. Two finial plinths support large brass ball finials. The arch molding is nicely formed. It is visually supported by free standing hood columns. These are mounted in brass capitals. The back quarter columns are simply shaped and neatly fitted into the corners of the case. The sides of the hood feature tombstone shaped side lights. The bonnet door is also an arched form and fitted with glass. This door opens to access the dial.

This fine clock was made circa 1770. The overall height is approximately 94 inches tall. It is 23 inches wide and 11.5 inches deep at the arch molding.


About John Rogers of Newton, Massachusetts.

To the best of my knowledge, it is not definitively known when and where John Rogers was born. One source speculates that John Rogers was born on May 9, 1724 in Boston the son of Gamaliel Rogers and Mercy (Emms) Rogers. A second possibility is presented in The History of Newton which states that John Rogers was a descendant of John Rogers the martyr who was burned at the stake. This would indicate that he was a descendant from Rev. Nathaniel Rogers of Ipswich, who was said to be a descendant of John the martyr. We do know that he lived on Newton Corner and died in that town on October 19, 1815 at the age of 91. John is recorded as having married twice. His first wife was Hannah Williamson of Newton. They married on December 11, 1745. Hanna was born October 9, 1723 and died June 8, 1779. Together, they had at least eleven children. John married a second time to Mary (Craft) Towbridge on October 1, 1780. She was on born April 11, 1731. John is found listed as a blacksmith and as a clockmaker. It is currently thought that he trained as a clockmaker under the guidance or Joseph Ward. John is described as an ingenious man and made machines. He also held various town offices, including the position of selectman. In 1780, he served as a member of a committee to recruit soldiers. John maintained two shops. One was located in Newton and the other was in town of Waltham. It is recorded that he was involved in a number of business dealings with the clockmaker Benjamin Willard. Rogers filed a lawsuit against Willard. In about 1761, he made and gifted the gallery clock to the Congregational Church in Newton which is now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. We have owned and sold a small number of tall clocks made by this maker over the last 50 years. Several of which have featured unusual calendar displays and the movements were fitted with maintaining power.

Examples of tall clocks that feature brass composite dials, engraved brass dials and painted dials are known.

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