David Wood tall case clock. Newburyport, Massachusetts. A Rocking Ship example. 220052

This is a cross-banded and decoratively inlaid mahogany case. It retains an older finish that is clean and consistent. The case stands on delicately formed flared French feet. These transition into a simple spur and then a triple drop apron. This is a very nice design. The feet are separated from the base by a band of light wood inlay. The base is framed with cross-banded mahogany wood border. A satinwood line inlay separates the banding from the center panel. This panel features a wonderful selection of figured mahogany veneer. The waist of this clock is long and narrow and features reeded quarter columns which terminate in brass quarter capitals. The waist door is rectangular and trimmed with an applied molding. It shares the same cross-banded design that is exhibited in the base panel. The veneer chosen for the center panel of the door is a very good selection of wood. Positioned at either end of the waist door frame are two light wood rectangular shaped panels. The bonnet features a New England style fret work. The free flowing pattern is unusual. It is supported with three reeded finial plinths. Each plinth supports a brass finial. The finials are in the form of urns. An eagles is mounted atop each urn. The eagle is depicted with its wings extended and a branch of holey in its beak symbolizing pease. The bonnet columns are smoothly turned and subtly shaped. These are positioned to flank the arched bonnet door. These terminate in brass capitals. The hood door is arched and fitted with glass. It opens to access a painted rocking ship dial.

This colorfully painted iron dial is of local origin and was most likely painted by the Boston artists Spencer Nolen & Samuel Curtis. Similar dials have been found with this artist’s signature signed on the back of the dial. This dial is signed by the clockmaker, “David Wood / NEWBURYPORT” in large block lettering. This signature is positioned below the center of the dial where one might expect to find a calendar display. This like many of the later American made tall clock does not have that feature. The four spandrel areas are decorated with colorfully painted geometric designs or fans. The hours are indicated by large Roman style numerals. Each of the five minute markers are indicated in an Arabic style format. A subsidiary seconds dial is displayed in the traditional location. In the arch of this dial one will find the automated feature of a rocking ship. The painted warship is depicted sailing around a peninsula. On the point is a four story lighthouse and the keeper’s cottage. A second sailboat is painted in the background. This nautical scene is painted on a convex piece of metal which adds to the visual depth to the scene. The main ship moves from side to side with the steady and rhythmic motion of the pendulum. This dial is fitted directly to the movement without the use of a flaseplate.

This fine weight driven movement is constructed in brass and is good quality.  Four turned pillars support the two brass plates. Hardened steel shafts support the polished steel pinions and brass gearing. The winding drums are grooved. The escapement is designed as a recoil format. It is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind.   It is a two train or a time and strike design having a rack and snail striking system.  As a result, it will strike each hour on the hour.  This is done on a cast iron bell which is mounted above the movement. 

This very attractive clock was made circa 1815 and stands approximately 94 inches tall to the top of the center finial. It is 19.5 inches wide and 9.5 inches deep.


About David Wood of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

David Wood was born the son of John and Eunice Wood in Newburyport, Massachusetts on July 5, 1766. It is thought that he may have been apprenticed to either Daniel Balch Senior or one of the members of the Mulliken family. All of whom were prominent Clockmakers in this region. On June 13, 1792, David advertised that he had set up a shop in Market Square, near Reverend Andrews Meeting House, where he made and sold clocks. Three short years latter, he married Elizabeth Bird in 1795. It has become evident, that David Wood was also a Retailer. In 1806, he advertised that he had for sale “Willard’s best Patent Timepieces, for as low as can be purchased in Roxbury.” In the year 1818, he and Abel Moulton, a local silversmith, moved into the shop formerly occupied by Thomas H. Balch. In 1824 he advertised that he had moved on the westerly side of Market Square opposite the Market House. After his wife’s death in 1846, he moved to Lexington to live near is son David, who was a merchant in that town.

It has become quite obvious to us that David Wood was a very successful Clockmaker and Retailer of Clocks. Over the last 40 plus years of being in the business of selling clocks, we have sold many examples of wall, shelf, and tall case clocks bearing this Maker’s signature on the dial.

For more information about this clock click  here .