David Williams. A Newport, Rhode Island mahogany cased tall clock. II72.

This fine cross-banded mahogany cased tall clock was made by David Williams of Newport, Rhode Island. He is listed in Paul Foley’s book, “Willard’s Patent Timepieces” as working in both Newport and in Providence, Rhode Island as early as 1790 until his death on June 29, 1823.

This case is primarily constructed in mahogany and New England white pine is used as a secondary wood. The case stands on four nicely shaped or flared French feet. A nicely formed apron drops down from the center of the base panel. This panel is cross-banded with a band of mahogany veneer. The waist section is long and narrow and accentuates the narrow proportions of this example. The sides of the waist are fitted with reeded quarter columns that terminate in simply turned wooden quarter capitals. The rectangular shaped waist door is framed by a cock-beaded molding around the outer edge. The panel is framed with a cross-banded border. The featured selection of veneer exhibits a grain pattern with long sweeping lines. The bonnet features a traditional New England style fretwork pattern. This lacy pattern is nicely pierced and supported by three finial plinths. Each of these is capped at the top and supports a single brass ball and spike finial. Large rectangular shaped glazed windows are positions on the sides of the hood. Through these, one can inspect the clock works. Fully turned bonnet columns ending in turn wooden capitals flank the bonnet door. The bonnet door is arched and glazed. It opens to a very colorfully paint decorated dial.

This iron dial is skillfully paint decorated and features traditional themes for the period. It is a Boston made product from the dial house of Spencer Nolen. The four spandrel areas are decorated with cross-hatched decoration, a beaded curved line that is gilded and three gilded leaves set over a green background. This is a complex design. In the arch is a red ornament. Colorful branches and swags frame the central decoration. This dial is signed below the calendar aperture by the Maker. The signature is now somewhat faded. It was originally signed in a boisterous manner. The signature is quite large in scale. It reads “David Williams / Newport.” The time track is formatted in a traditional manner. The hours are displayed in large Roman style numerals. The five minute markers are indicated in an Arabic format. This dial also displays the seconds and the date of the month. The dial is attached to the movement through a false plate mounting system. The false plate is made from thin cast iron.

This fine 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. The movement 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 clock is fitted with cast iron drive weights and its original wooden pendulum rod and brass faced pendulum bob.

This fine clock was made circa 1805 and stands approximately 8 feet tall to the top of the center finial.

II-72

About David Williams of Newport and Providence, Rhode Island. Clockmaker, watchmaker, silversmith and jeweler.

David Williams was born in Rochester, Massachusetts on March 29, 1769. His parents were John Williams (b. 1731- ) and Mary (Peckham) Williams of Middletown, RI (b. 1733-). David was a Quaker. It is not clear who trained David as a clockmaker. It is thought that he was at work in Newport by 1800. His shop was located on the corner of Duke and Queen Streets. In 1811, he moved his shop on the north side of Parade. This location was ten doors down above his old stand. This shop was most recently occupied by Zenas Fearing. In 1818, he moved again to 56 Broad Street. All the while, he must have had a retail outlet in the city of Providence. He was one of, if not the most prolific Clockmakers in Rhode Island. We have owned many tall clocks, Massachusetts Shelf clocks and other banjo clocks in the recent past. It is interesting to note that we know who made the banjo clock cases for Williams. A probate court record exists that indicates that John Young performed this service. David Williams died in Newport on June 29,1823 at the age of 54.

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