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Photo: Courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Massachusetts, 57.1.107
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Tall case clock


Object number

RIF4393

Maker

Casemaker Unknown
Clockmaker Caleb Wheaton, American, 1757 - 1827

Dimensions

252.731 x 53.34 x 22.86 cm (99 1/2 x 21 x 9 in.)

Date

1785–1800

Current location

Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); white pine and chestnut (secondary)

Marks

"Caleb Wheaton / Providence," engraved on dial

Provenance

J. Cheney Wells (1874–1960), Southbridge, Massachusetts, 1936 until 1957; given by him to Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts, 1957

Associated names

J. Cheney Wells

Construction

The removable hood has a flat, single-board roof nailed into rabbets in the scrollboard and friezeboards. There are segmental compass-drawn scribe lines on its underside. The narrow hood backboard is nailed with brads into rabbets in the friezeboards, and is rabbeted to fit over the flat-topped case backboard. A small fillet molding is nailed with brads to the upper part of the entablature. At the corners of this upper portion are plain rectangular plinths with simple caps supporting apple-form finials not entirely stop-fluted, with turned bases and gold-painted corkscrew-carved flames. The scrollboard meets the friezeboards in a half-blind dovetail joints, having very large half-pins above the cornice molding. The cornice molding is a single piece, attached with brads, mitered at the corners and continuous with the scrolling cornice at the hood front, ending in stylized rosettes and centering a plain plinth with finial and gold-painted flame. Behind each rosette is a brad securing it to the scrollboard. The architrave molding is nailed with brads to the bottom of the friezeboards. At the back of the hood are half-round fluted colonnettes tenoned and nailed with brads into the friezeboards above and the transverse boards of the hood base below. Their separate capitals, bases, abaci and plinths are routed to fit around the tenons and glued. Full fluted colonnettes with separate capitals, bases, abaci and plinths at the front of the hood are nailed to it with brads through the underside of the front board of the base. The four piece hood sides are rabbeted to fit over the case backboard, set into grooves in, and nailed with brads to the transverse boards of the hood base, and nailed with brads from within to the friezeboards. They each center a rectangular glazed portal, whose glass is held in with quarter round molding. The transverse boards of the hood base are tenoned and nailed with brads to the front board. The stiles of the arched, molded, glazed door, which opens to a silvered brass dial, are tenoned to the rails without wood pins. The rails of the dial mat are tenoned and nailed to its stiles. The hood slides onto a single-piece beaded cove molding (face-nailed with brads to the waist of the case) and its triangular blocking. The case-front rails are tenoned, without wood pins, to the stiles. Above and below the waist?s fluted quarter columns are two-part corner blocks with no visible means of connection or attachment, presumably glued in. inside the front corners of the waist are triangular vertical blocks, into which are nailed brads to secure the stop-fluted quarter columns outside, which have separate capitals and bases. The blocks above and below the quarter columns are two-part. There are vertical chamfered glue blocks (some missing) in the corners of the case?s waist. The ogee molding between waist and base is held on with brads. Its chamfered corners are not integral with the chamfered portion of the base below, but are integral with the lamb?s tongue elements below. The rails of the base front meet their stiles in mitered tenon joints, without wood pins. The single-board base sides are fixed at the top with face-nailed brads. The base molding (probably replaced) is attached with wood-filled fasteners. The feet are probably replaced. The arched waist door appears to be a single piece, thumb-molded and convex-blocked, to which is applied a convex-carved shell, a small portion of which is missing. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, January 13, 2015; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

Chris Bailey, Two Hundred Years of American Clocks and Watches (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice Hall, 1975), 23, fig. 15.
Sarah Sherrill, "Current and Coming: Clocks and Folk Art," Antiques 122, no. 6 (June 1982): 1312, ill.
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), 7–8, 81, 164–165, pl. 2, ill.
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), 112n37.