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Photo: Courtesy of Gary R. Sullivan Antiques Inc., Sharon, Mass.; photo by Matthew J. Buckley
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Musical tall case clock


Object number

RIF6097

Maker

Casemaker Unknown
Clockmaker Caleb Wheaton, American, 1757?1827

Dimensions

100 1/2 × 22 1/2 × 12 in. (255.27 × 57.15 × 30.48 cm)

Date

1780–90

Current location

Private collection

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); mahogany (dial matt); pine (backboard, blocks at case front, bottom board, bracket of proper-right rear foot, blocks of feet); cherry (interior base of hood); yellow poplar (wood behind blind fret, backboard of hood, blocks at top of case, batten on underside of hood top, and top of hood)

Marks

"Caleb Wheaton / Providence," engraved, above and below center arbor and on pendulum bob

Inscriptions

in te domine speramus” (In God We Hope), engraved in dial arch below anchor and rope emblem of Rhode Island; numbers corresponding to tunes played, “1” through “6,” engraved across dial arch; "RENEWED BY / John Jenks / COMPLETED, NOVEMEBER 18, 1841 / PROVIDENCE RHODE ISLAND" encircled by the verse "O harp! within thy magic cells light, airy glee and pleasure dwells / and gentle rapture rings, while clear / voic'd echo sends around the heavenly gale of tuneful / sound from all th'accordant strings," engraved on brass plaque nailed to interior of waist door; “3 [?] St / T Daggett,” in chalk, on interior of waist door; “O M Chace,” in graphite, on interior proper-right side of case; “began to go July 7th[superscript] 1796,” in graphite, on interior case back; "O. M. Chace / 1796," in graphite, on interior case back; "T[?] the / B[o?]bb Down / to y[e?] Flo[w or rr?]," in graphite, on interior case back; illegible graphite possibly ending in “ton,” on interior backboard of hood

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Descended Howes family, Rhode Island. Private collection; sold to Gary R. Sullivan Antiques, Inc., Sharon, Massachusetts, 2013; sold to private collection, 2013

Associated names

Howes family
Gary R. Sullivan Antiques, Inc.

Construction

The removable hood has a roof of multiple transverse boards, partially covered by canvas, shaped to align with its arched façade and fixed with brads and rosehead nails to the top of the arched hood backboard and into a rabbet in the scrollboard. The uppermost board is nailed, under a strip of canvas, into a transverse batten set in a groove in the top of the hood backboard. The farthest left and right hand roof boards are nailed into triangular blocking atop the hood?s friezeboards, which meet the backboard, whose skirt is arched and rabbeted to fit over the case backboard, in dovetail joints having thick-necked pins with half-pins above and below. A single-piece cornice molding is fixed with brads and wood-filled fasteners to the friezeboards and follows the arch of the scrollboard in front, where it centers a stop-fluted keystone motif surmounted by a rectangular plinth fluted on three sides and supporting a spherical, partially fluted finial with turned base and corkscrew flame. Two similar flanking plinths, fluted on two sides only, support similar finials. The frieze of the scrollboard below is faced with an engraved brass fretwork panel of vegetal and avian motifs, attached to the hood with dome-topped and other brass brads through red cloth backing. A single-piece architrave molding at the bottom of the scrollboard and friezeboards is attached to the former with face-nailed brads and to the latter by invisible means. The friezeboards and scrollboard meet in dovetail joints, each having a single large, thick-necked pin. The single-board hood sides are fixed with four screws each into the back of the friezeboards, set into grooves in the transverse boards of the hood base, and rabbeted at their back edge to fit over the case backboard. Each hood side centers an arched and molded portal into which is set a brass fretwork panel and red cloth backing similar to that on the scrollboard above. Brass stop-fluted half-colonnettes with brass Doric capitals and bases are tenoned and nailed to the friezeboard above and the hood base below. Full partially brass-stop-fluted colonnettes with brass Corinthian capitals are set into the underside of the friezeboard above and nailed, through their brass bases, with dome-topped brads to the front corners of the hood base below. The rails of the dial mat are tenoned to their stiles without wood pins. The stiles of the arched, molded and glazed hood door are tenoned to their rails without wood pins. The transverse rails of the hood base are tenoned without wood pins to the front rail. A variety of empty holes on the transverse board?s undersides indicates former methods of attachment to the hood sides. There is a single wood pin under the proper right board and a small wood pin under the front board near its midpoint. A small single-piece molding fixed to the hood baseboards with wood-filled fasteners is proud of their underside, allowing the hood to slide over the top of the single-piece beaded cove molding which is fixed with brads and wood-filled fasteners to the top of the case waist below. The rails of the case waist front are tenoned to their stiles without wood pins. The stiles are butt-jointed (and fixed with rectangular wood-filled fasteners) to the single-board waist sides. The rails of the arched, thumb-molded waist door are through-tenoned and mitered, without wood pins, to their stiles. A convex-blocked panel is held into the door frame with chamfered molding nailed with brads into the door?s stiles and bottom rail. A carved shell is applied to the top of the panel and held on with glue and large wood pins, visible on the inside face of the arched top rail. A single-piece ogee molding is face-nailed with brads into the waist sides, the single-board base sides, and interior blocking. At the base front are stiles and rails tenoned and mitered to each other and enclosing a rectangular thumb-molded panel. Inside the front corners of the case are vertical glue blocks with rounded outside corners. The single-piece case back is nailed with brads into rabbets in the waist sides, and augmented by vertical strips at the base which are fixed with brads and rosehead nails into the case back itself and the base sides. The case bottom meets the base sides in dovetail joints with thick-necked pins and tails reinforced with brads. A base molding is face-nailed with brads to the base sides and front. The front feet consist of shaped vertical blocks attached directly to the bottom edge of the front?s bottom rails flanked by shaped glue blocks, the whole faced with ogee brackets. The rear feet (the proper left of which is replaced) are configured similarly except for the back brackets, which are simple straight-profiled diagonal brackets. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, July 1, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

Notes

Movement: 8-day brass three-train musical and quarter chiming

Bibliography

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), 97, 103, 297n5, 306–307, no. 59, fig. 1.
Gary R. Sullivan and Kate Van Winkle Keller, Musical Clocks of Early America, 1730–1830: A Catalogue Raisonné (North Grafton, Mass.: The Willard House and Clock Museum, 2017), 320–22, fig. 158, 158A–E.