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Tall Case Clock

1793
Origin: America, Massachusetts, Acton
OH: 85 3/4"; OW: 19 3/4"; OD: 10"
Cherry, white pine, brass, steel, iron, lead, tin, and glass
Gift of Robert W. Ellis
Acc. No. 2013-37,A
Appearance: Tall case clock with eight day movement; case has an arched hood surmounted by three plinths supporting brass cup with turned spire finials, pierced fret between the plinths; freestanding columns at front with brass capitals and bases, engaged quarter columns at rear of hood with wooden capitals and bases supporting wide cavetto cornice molding; glazed, arched hood door; trunk with cavetto molding below hood and at waist; rectangular trunk door with double arched top; base molding over ogee bracket feet; side foot brackets extend entire depth of case.

Dial:
One piece arched 12 3/16”W x 16 13/16”H x 0.083” thick white painted dial with pink flowers painted in arch and spandrels. Roman numeral hours, Arabic minutes in five minute increments with dots below marking intermediate minutes. Arabic seconds dial in ten second increments with dots above marking intermediate seconds. Seconds hand has moon tail. Arched calendar aperture below center flanked by two grommeted winding holes.

Movement description:
Eight-day brass time, strike, and calendar weight-driven movement measuring 6 3/16” H x 4 3/8” W. Plate thickness is 0.100” and clearance between front and back plates is 2.1”. Bottom of both plates have arched cutouts. Top right corners (time side) of both plates are rounded. Clock has an anchor-recoil escapement regulated by a seconds beat pendulum. A rack-and-snail strike sounds the hours on a 2.85” diameter cast bell.

Four brass pillars are riveted into the back plate and pinned at the front plate. The movement is fastened to the seat board by screws that are threaded into but do not protrude through the bottom pillars. The brass time and strike barrels are grooved for the weight cords. All time and strike train wheels have four-arm crossings. The conventional motion work is uncrossed. The crutch-rod is round steel. The pendulum bridge base is a rounded butterfly shape. It is fastened to the back plate with two screws and two locator pins. The fly wheel pivot passes through the right leg of the bridge. The bell stand is screwed to the outside of the back plate under the right side of the pendulum bridge.

There are standard cast-brass pulleys with riveted steel stirrups. The overall length of the pendulum is 44”. The wooden pendulum rod is 0.45” wide and 0.3” thick. The bob is cast metal with a brass face. It is 4.6” diameter and 0.8” thick at its center. The pendulum rod passes through a semi cylinder cast into the back of the bob. The weights are cylindrical metal shells with cast in metal eyes. They are both 10” long. One is 3 3/8” diameter and weighs 12 pounds. The other is 3 ¼” diameter and weighs 14 pounds.

Construction: On the hood, the three board arched top is nailed into rabbets in the arched front rail and to the top edge of the arched rear rail. The front rail is nailed to the leading edge of the sides and extends beyond them where it butt joins and is possibly nailed to the end of the upper side rails. The rear rail is nailed into notches in the upper rear corner of the sides. The sides are nailed to the upper and lower side rails and the rear stiles are nailed to the upper and lower side rails and to the sides. The lower front rail is toe-nailed to the side rails. The stiles and rails of the arched dial plate frame are lap-joined with joints secured with cleated nails; it rests and is probably nailed into dados in the sides, and is nailed from the back to the lower front rail and arched upper front rail. The sides are rabbeted on the leading edge to receive the door.

The cove miter joined cornice molding, with integral molded edges, is face nailed to the upper side rails and arched upper rail, both of which are veneered where exposed on the underside. The hood base moldings are glued and nailed to the lower side and front rails. The rear quarter columns with integral turned capitals are nailed to the sides and rear stiles. The round front columns are set in brass capitals that are nailed to the upper side rails and lower side rails and moldings. The side window glass rests in rabbets formed by a frame of integral beads and held in place on the inside by metal glazing points. The finial plinths are half-lap joined and probably nailed to the ends and center of the arched upper rail. The sawn fretwork is tenoned into the finial plinths behind the rabbeted front rail.

The stiles and rails of the door are lap joined with cleated nails securing the joints, interior edges are rabbeted for the window glass which is then glazed in place. The door’s flat brass hinges are nailed to the upper and lower front rails of the hood.
On the trunk, the sides are face nailed to the edge of the one-piece backboard, which extends from the top to the floor. The sides project into the hood where they are dadoed to receive the seat board. 10” Strips (1’x ¾”) are nailed to the upper side edges of the backboard, butt joining the top of the sides and extending to the point at which the top of the back is arched, allowing the backboard width to match the outer edge of the sides. Posts (1”x1”) are nailed to the lower side edges of the backboard, butt joining the bottom edge of the sides (at the top of the base) and extending to the floor. The front rails are tenoned into the stiles. The stiles are face nailed to the sides and extend from the top of the trunk into the base with the proper right stile extending to within 4” of the floor, the proper left within 12” of the floor. The door, with integral molded edge and shaped top, is fitted with half-strap brass hinges. The upper miter joined cove shoulder molding is face-nailed to the sides and upper rail.

On the base, the two board front is miter joined and face-nailed to the sides. The front and sides of the base are face nailed to spacer blocks (behind the base molding) that are in turn nailed to the extended back, sides and stiles of the trunk. The miter joined coved waist molding is face-nailed to the sides, stiles and lower rail of the trunk and to the upper edge of the front and sides of the base.

The ogee bracket feet with integral bottom molding and full depth matching returns on the sides are face-nailed to the sides and front panel.

The primary wood is cherry, with white pine as the secondary wood.

Label:Few objects retain evidence of their original makers, owners, prices, or even the dates they were made. A descendant of the original owner of this clock documented its history in 1896. He provided details of its origin as well as the subsequent owners and prices paid for the clock. The piece descended in the family until it was donated to Colonial Williamsburg in 2013.

According to family history, clockmaker Nathaniel Edwards, Jr. of Acton, Massachusetts (just west of Boston), sold the clock to Paul Hayward in 1793 for $65. Whether Edwards fabricated the clock movement himself or simply oversaw production of the clock and case by other artisans is unknown. He procured the dial from John Minott, a Boston area dial painter who signed and numbered the back.
Provenance:A 1896 note pasted inside the clock case door states:
"This clock was made by a Mr. Edwards at Acton Mass year 1793. Bought by my greatgrandfather Paul Hayward for $65.00. At his death my grandfather Jas Hayward bought it for $15.00. At grandfather’s death uncle Thas Buebreck bought it at auction for $10.00. And he sold it to my father Jos. H. Hayward for $2.00. J Webster Hayward. Dated at Vinton Ia, Sept. 28th 1896."

J. Webster Hayward, who moved from Acton, MA to Vinton, Iowa about 1880, gave the clock to his daughter Helen Hayward Gertrude Ellis of Vinton, Iowa. By 1972, she lived in Monrovia, CA. At that time she gave the clock to her son, Robert William Ellis of Omaha, NE. He later moved with the clock to Escondido, CA and in 2013 donated the clock to Colonial Williamsburg.

A copy of a photograph taken in the J. Webster Hayward home in Vinton, Iowa about 1896 is in the object file. Donor identified the people in the photo as: J. Wester Hayward, Jenny, 2 boys (Frank and Myron), Bob's mother Helen (small girl). The clock is on the stair landing in the back center of the picture.
Mark(s):Printed label (half missing) inside trunk door: "...LLS & SON,/...hes, Clocks/...ving a Specialty,....IOWA/...9-1897/....1-"
Inscription(s):The back of the dial is signed “John Minott/ 180"

Back of trunk door has numerous pencil inscriptions, some written over others, and a handwritting statement on paper by J. Webster Hayward of Vinton, Iowa dated Sept. 28th, 1896 (see provenance).

In pencil on back of trunk door over top of earlier pencil inscriptions:
"C by BMB 2-12.99-/
C " " " 1909-32057-50452-"
Earlier inscription looks like "February 13-183../ [S or G] [?]preen""

Inside the proper right trunk side in pencil: "Dec-10-1831/ March/ 15-1838"
Inside the proper left trunk side in pencil "BMBills-16-12-1997"

On front face of proper left side below dado for seat board in pencil "Cords
2/19/04" (for 2004).

In on paper taped to inside of trunk door: "Serviced 5-1-86 by/ JAMES HOSICK/ phone: 487-0950/ Reoil in 1990"