image of object
Photo: Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1927, 27.57.2
Click the image to enlarge

Tall case clock

Object number



Casemaker John Townsend, American, 1732/33–1809
Clockmaker William Tomlinson, 1699–1750


Height: 91 3/8 in. (232.093 cm) Width, cornice: 21 1/8 in. (53.658 cm) Width, shaft: 13 7/8 in. (35.243 cm) Width, pedestal: 17 3/4 in. (45.085 cm) Width, feet: 19 3/4 in. (50.165 cm) Depth, cornice: 10 1/2 in. (26.67 cm) Depth, shaft: 7 in. (17.78 cm) Depth, pedestal: 8 7/8 in. (22.543 cm) Depth, feet: 9 7/8 in. (25.083 cm) Dial, less lunette: 12 × 12 in. (30.48 × 30.48 cm)



Current location

The Metropolitan Museum of Art


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


Mahogany (primary); chestnut (backboards of hood and waist and medial brace in hood top); white pine (hood top); maple (seat board); yellow poplar (hood top)


" MADE BY / John Townsend," printed on a paper label with inscription in ink, "Newport Rhode Island 1789," glued to backboard; "William / Tomlinson / London," engraved on dial name boss


"A" with superimposed "M"[?], in chalk, on backboard behind movement; "Jan 29[?] 1825 / cleaned Dec [m superscript] 27 1831 By J.S. / October 20th 1839 / J. S. [King or Krig or Ring] Aug 17th 1847 / cleaned 1887 GHC / John Hamun [Hanum?] Northampton Mass / cleaned / Sept 11th 1865 / cleaned /Sept 4 1878," in pencil and ink, on seat board


George Champlin (died 1809), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to his niece, Mrs. Caleb Jewett Tenney (née Ruth Channing, died 1842) and her husband, Reverend Caleb Jewett Tenney (1780–1847), Newport, then Wethersfield, Connecticut, and Northampton, Massachusetts; by descent to their daughter, Elizabeth Tenney Allen (born 1820), Northampton; by descent to her daughter, Clara Channing Allen (born 1860), Northampton; sold to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1927

Associated names

George Champlin
Ruth Channing Tenney
Caleb Jewett Tenney
Elizabeth Tenney
Clara Channing Allen


The arched hood is crowned by three double-reeded, spherical finials with corkscrew flames, each set upon a rectangular plinth, reinforced by a metal strap and nail. The back of each finial is unreeded and shaved. The hood?s arched, partial backboard is fixed with brads to blocking within the entablature. In front is an arched, single-piece crown molding. The sides of the entablature are dovetailed to the front, the finely cut, narrow-necked pins visible behind at the sides. Below the central finial is a carved keystone with a fluted panel below. Stop-fluted colonnettes, with turned bases and capitals and plain backs stand at the front corners of the hood, flanking the arched, glazed and molded door, where stiles are tenoned and single-wood-pinned to the arched and flat rails. Stop-fluted half-colonnettes at the rear of the hood are reinforced by chamfered strips. There is a beaded cove on the case below above stop-fluted quarter columns, centering an arched, convex-blocked, shell-carved door, with three pairs of brass hinges. The arched top of the door is double-tenoned and single-wood-pinned to the tops of the stiles. The carved shell is applied; the convex-blocked door front is wood-pinned to the stiles. The medial rail at the back of the door is dovetailed to the stiles. The lower rail is tenoned and single-wood-pinned to the stiles. The rails of the base front, to which a raised panel with incurvate corners is applied, are continuous across the front. Notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd from photographs supplied by Morrison Heckscher.


Charles O. Cornelius, "John Townsend: An Eighteenth-Century Cabinet-Maker," Metropolitan Museum Studies 1 (1928): 75, 79–80, fig. 2, 5.
Brooks Palmer, The Book of American Clocks (New York: MacMillan Company, 1928), fig. 18.
Anne Lee, "Colonial Furniture, Part VI: The Mirror: The Bed: The Clock," Good Furniture and Decoration 35 (December 1930): 294–295, ill.
R. T. Haines Halsey and Charles O. Cornelius, A Handbook of the American Wing, 6th rev. ed. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1938), 116, 118, 121, fig. 58.
R. T. Haines Halsey, Charles O. Cornelius, and Joseph Downs, A Handbook of the American Wing, 7th rev. ed. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1942), 116, 118, 121, fig. 58.
Joseph Downs, "The Furniture of Goddard and Townsend," Antiques 52, no. 6 (December 1947): 430, fig. 7.
Brooks Palmer, The Book of American Clocks (New York: MacMillan Company, 1950), 30, fig. 18.
Wallace Nutting, Furniture Treasury (New York: MacMillan Company, 1963), no. 3265, ill.
Marshall B. Davidson, The American Heritage History of Colonial Antiques (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1967), 226–227, fig. 315.
Joseph K. Ott, "John Townsend: A Chair and Two Tables," Antiques 94, no. 3 (September 1968): 389, fig. 1b.
Morrison H. Heckscher, "John Townsend's Block-and-Shell Furniture," Antiques 121, no. 5 (May 1982): 1146, 1148, 1150, fig. 4.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 103, 137–138, pl.12, fig. 3.10–3.11, 3.62–.
Morrison H. Heckscher, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Late Colonial Period, The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles (New York: Random House, 1985), 297–98, 362–63, no. 192, ill.
Albert Sack, The New Fine Points of Furniture: Early American (New York: Crown Publishers, 1993), 135, ill.
William C. Ketchum Jr., American Cabinetmakers: Marked American Furniture, 1640-1940 (New York: Crown Publishers, 1995), 345.
Morrison H. Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005), 6–7, 120–23, no. 21, fig. 4.
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), 106, 112n26, 209n3, fig. 9.