Tall Case Clock

Collection Type

  • Clocks and timekeeping

Date

1750-1770

GUSN

GUSN-3913

Description

Tall case clock with a domed hood, arched case door, molded base, original brass dial with floral chasing and finials, brass works; brass capitals, dials and fluting of column; original brass escutcheon.

Details

Descriptive Terms

tall case clocks
timepieces
mahogany (wood)
Norway spruce (wood)
brass (alloy)
Chippendale
Clock
Clock, Floor
Clock, Tall Case
Clock, Tall Case

Label

Cherished Possessions: For over two hundred years, this clock has stood in parlor of the York, Maine, home of merchant Jonathan Sayward. Combining fine cabinetmaking with precision instrument making, it was probably the most valuable item in the house. During the Revolution, Sayward wrote that this clock stood watch with him at night when he lay awake, fearful of mob violence and concerned for the future of his country.
Tall case clocks were luxury items for colonists in eighteenth-century New England, and few but the wealthiest could own one. This one may well have been Sayward's most valuable belonging. Most likely made in Portsmouth, and purchased early in the 1770s, the clock represented the latest English fashion. Sayward placed it in the corner of his sitting room, the most public room in the house, screwing it into boards that still support it today. Because the clock was too tall to fit into the low-ceilinged house, Sayward cut down the base, removed the central finial, and shortened the two flanking finials. When he removed the central finial, he placed it in a drawer nearby. It remains in the room to this day.

Inscription

pencil inscription on inside of door: ""b___ Bagley/D Olier/June 24 1853: feb 13, 61/ Cyrus Sweetser/1855/Cleaned 1891""

Associated Building

Original to Sayward-Wheeler House (York Harbor, Me.),

Maker

Unknown

Dimensions

91 3/4 x 21 x 10 1/4 (HxWxD) (inches)

Credit Line

Gift of the heirs of Elizabeth Cheever Wheeler

Accession Number

1977.255

Places

Maine (United States)
New Hampshire (United States)