A very fine and rare American Federal inlaid mahogany dwarf clock with alarm signed R. Tower, Kingston, the case attributed to Henry Willard, circa 1821 - 1824
Lot 5226W
A very fine and rare American Federal inlaid mahogany dwarf clock with alarm signed R. Tower, Kingston, the case attributed to Henry Willard, circa 1821 - 1824
Sold for US$ 92,500 inc. premium
Lot Details
A very fine and rare American Federal inlaid mahogany dwarf clock with alarm
signed R. Tower, Kingston, the case attributed to Henry Willard, circa 1821 - 1824
The forward sliding hood with fretwork between three brass finials over an arched cornice supported by plain columns, sides pierced with lozenge array of circular holes, the trunk with crossbanded long door, the crossbanded plinth with applied bead molding above French feet, the finely painted white dial with foliage, urn and drapery in the arch, gilt spandrels enclosing roman chapter ring, blued steel arrow hands, two barrel weight driven brass movement with rectangular plates joined by four pillars, anchor escapement, iron rod pendulum with brass bob, separately wound alarm train planted on the side of the movement. 50.5 in. (128 cm) high

Footnotes

  • Reuben Tower (1795 – 1881) whose surviving work includes tall clocks, Willard patent timepieces and shelf clocks in addition to dwarf clocks such as the present example resided in Kingston between 1822 and 1825. (see: Paul J. Foley, Willard's Patent Timepieces, pp 321-322.) He was apprenticed to Joshua Wilder, a prolific maker of dwarf clocks, whose daughter he married.

    Dwarf clocks are the subject of a recent study by Gary Sullivan. ( in Brock et al. Harbor & Home, Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts, Hanover, 2009). Produced in a narrowly defined geographic area, they appear to have been made to answer the demand for a less expensive alternative to the tall clock. They flourished briefly, only to be supplanted by even less expensive mass produced shelf clocks. They are found in two styles: within a bell top case and within a mahogany case on French feet with pierced fretwork above the hood that resembles a miniature Roxbury tall case.

    All of the latter bear a passing resemblance to one another. The cases were made chiefly by Abiel White (1766-1844) and Henry Willard (1802 -1887). The present clock is attributed to Willard based on published examples which characteristically have a diamond shaped array of holes in the side of the hood and an applied bead molding on the base above the feet. A nearly identical fret is found on a Willard case for a Joshua Wilder dwarf clock in the collection of Old Sturbridge Village. (see: Philip Zea and Robert Cheney, Clock Making in New England, 1725 – 1825, Sturbridge, 1992)
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