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Photo: Courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Mass., 57.1.92
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Tall case clock


Object number

RIF1208

Maker

Casemaker Benjamin Baker, 1734 or 1735–1822
Clockmaker Thomas Claggett, ca. 1730 - 1797

Dimensions

241.301 x 54.928 x 28.575 cm (95 x 21 5/8 x 11 1/4 in.)

Date

1772

Current location

Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts

Geography

Made in Newport, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)

Medium

Mahogany (primary); white pine (secondary)

Marks

"Made and Sold By / Benjamin Baker / In / 1772 Newport," in ink, on paper label glued to interior waist door. The bill of sale that accompanies the clock reads, "December 30th 1772 I Thomas Claggett Do Warrant / a Clock to Abraham Brown to be A good Clock if she / Dues not prove So I promis to Pay the money back to sd / Brown whis is fifty six dollars & on[e] quarter / Witness my hand / Thomas Clagget"

Inscriptions

"E B Smith March 19th [18]56 / No. 27 Pine Street / E B Smith June 10th 1861 / No. 14 / Bank St," in graphite, on interior of waist door; "This Clock was bought by me in 1875 from / John Quincy Adams Brown of Tiverton, R.I. / grandson of Abraham Brown, the original / owner, Geo. C. Nightingale / Providence, R. I. May 30, 1922," written on label affixed to case interior; "From the Collection of / J. Cheney Wells / Southbridge, Massachusetts / No. 92," engraved on brass plaque screwed to interior of waist door

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Abraham Brown (1735–1799), Tiverton, Rhode Island, 1772; by descent to his grandson, John Quincy Adams Brown (1834–1913), Tiverton, Rhode Island; sold to George C. Nightingale (1846–1927), Providence, Rhode Island, 1875; sold to J. Cheney Wells (1874–1960), Southbridge, Massachusetts, 1936; given to Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts, 1957

Associated names

Abraham Brown
John Quincy Adams Brown
George C. Nightingale
J. Cheney Wells

Construction

The removable hood has a paper-covered multi-board roof shaped to align with its arched fašade and fixed with brads to the tops of the scrollboard and the hood backboard. The backboard?s straight bottom edge is rabbeted to fit over the top of the case?s backboard. The ends are half-blind dovetailed to blocks atop the hood?s frieze boards; the proper right tail is reinforced by a rosehead nail. The single-piece beaded cove cornice molding is fixed with brads to the friezes and arched scrollboard. At the top of the scrollboard is a multi-part keystone element with a fluted frieze, attached to the entablature with brads and wood-filled fasteners, above which is a partially apple-shaped fluted finial with a turned base and corkscrew-carved flame, flanked by matching finials atop rectangular one-piece plinths nailed into the hood with brads. A single-piece architrave molding is nailed with brads to the bottom of the frieze and scrollboard faces, which meet in half-blind dovetail joints with large, finely cut pins. The four-part hood sides are fixed to the frieze boards (through blocking) with rosehead nails, are rabbeted at the back to fit over the case?s backboard, and fit into grooves in the transverse boards of the hood base. The four boards center a rectangular glass portal glued in with a small quarter round exterior molding. The rails of the dial mat are tenoned and nailed to its stiles and held into the case with multiple rectangular vertical glue blocks. Half-round fluted colonnettes with integral molded bases and capitals and separate rectangular abaci and plinths are attached, through the inside, with nails and screws to the rear of the hood sides. They are also face-nailed. Full colonnettes at the front of the hood are secured by screws through the underside of the hood base?s front board. Its side boards are tenoned into the front board, each joint displaying four wood pins and two nails. The stiles of the arched, thumb-molded, glazed front door, which opens to a silvered brass dial and works, are tenoned to the rails without wood pins. The small molding nailed with brads to the bottom of the hood allows it to fit onto the case over the large single-piece beaded cove molding at the top of the waist, also nailed with brads. The proper right portion of the molding contains a wood-filled fastener on its upper face near the back. In the corners of the waisted case below are multiple vertical chamfered glue blocks. The rails of the case waist are tenoned, without wood pins, to their stiles which are butt-jointed to the single-board sides. The arched, thumb-molded waist door is a single piece, bearing a small hole on its inside face, possibly the mark of a compass used to lay out its arched top. The large ogee molding between waist and base is fixed with brads. The base front is a single board butt-jointed to the single-board base sides; brads in the proper right side possibly indicate old repairs. The molding below is held on with brads and wood-filled fasteners; there are face-nailed brads in the ogee bracket feet. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, January 13, 2015; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

Richard L. Champlin, "Thomas Claggett: Silversmith, Swordsman, Clockmaker," Bulletin of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc. 21, no. 2 (April 1979): 170–71, fig. 1–2.
Philip Zea and Robert C. Cheney, Clock Making in New England, 1725–1825: An Interpretation of the Old Sturbridge Village Collection (Sturbridge, Mass.: Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts, 1992), 14–15, 81, 163, pl. 1, fig. 1–5.
Dennis Andrew Carr, "The Account Book of Benjamin Baker," American Furniture (2004): 53–54, fig. 12–13.
Morrison H. Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2005), 55, fig. 46–47.
Patricia E. Kane et al., Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2016), 104–105, fig. 7.