Luther Smith of Keene, New Hampshire. Tall case clock.
This inlaid tall case clock is a diminutive size. It stands a mere 7 feet 1.5 inches tall to the top of the center finial. The case is nicely proportioned and is constructed with indigenous woods. The primary wood featured is cherry and New England white pine is used as the secondary option. The case retains its original surface or finish. Some areas have developed a wonderful crackelature that is in keeping with this clock’s sophisticated country presence.
The fine example stands on four wonderfully formed ogee bracket feet. They are shapely and retain excellent height. The base is decorated with a scalloped apron or molding. This is applied to the bottom of the waist molding and appears to hang below it. This very successful detail is one we see on numerous clock cases found in the Connecticut River Valley region. A tombstone shaped door is fitted into the waist section of this case. It is trimmed with a molded edge and an inlaid star or pinwheel is presented in its center. The Waist section is flanked by fluted quarter columns which terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet is an arched form and is surmounted by three brass ball and spike finials that sit on nicely formed wooden plinths. These plinths support the pierced and open fret work pattern. This is a complex design. Fully turned and fluted free standing bonnet columns ending in turned brass capitals flank the bonnet door. This arched door is fitted with glass and opens to access the painted dial.
It is worth noting that this dial is of local origin. It was most likely painted by Thomas Shapley who advertised in December of 1794, that he was conducting business at Smith's shop. He is listed in the local records as an ornamental artist. The arch of this dial is signed with the Clockmaker's name and place or working location. The movement is brass and of good quality. It is designed to run eight days and strike the hour on a cast iron bell. This clock was made circa 1795.
This clock is inventory number GG-49.
About Luther Smith of Keane, New Hampshire.
Luther Smith was born in Colrian, Massachusetts around 1767 and had moved to Keene, New Hampshire sometime around 1793. He married Sarah Eveleth in Bolton, Massachusetts in 1798. His shop was located on Federal Row which is now Main Street in Keene. He also purchased a mill from Nathan Blake on what is now known as West Street. In Keene, he built the first public clock which was installed in the old meeting-house at the head of main street in 1794. Its’ cost, including a ten year warranty, was 36 pounds. The clock’s one dial faced to the south and unfortunately the clock was lost in 1828 when the meeting-house was moved. Smith also built the first brick tavern house in Keene 1805. Other tall clocks as well as banjo clocks, New Hampshire mirror clocks and tower clocks have been found by this Maker. He died on October 21, 1839 at the age of 73. He is buried in the Washington Street Cemetery.
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