William Cummens of Roxbury, Massachusetts. Automated rocking ship tall clock dial of Boston origin. -SOLD-
This is an outstanding case. It features line inlays, crossbanding and highly figured mahogany veneers. This tall case exhibits excellent proportions, superb wood selections and a painted rocking ship dial that is signed by the Roxbury, Massachusetts Clockmaker, William Cummens.
William Cummens was born 1768 and died on April 20, 1834 at the age of 66. He worked in Roxbury in 1789 through 1834. Along with Elnathan Taber, William Cummens was trained as a clockmaker by Simon Willard. After serving his apprenticeship, Cummens stayed in Roxbury and made many clocks. He had direct access to the same suppliers the Willards used such case makers and dial painters like Spencer Nolen. As a result, Cummens' clocks are very similar in form. Over the last 48 years in business, we have owned and sold many tall case clocks, Massachusetts shelf clocks and wall timepieces made by this Maker.
This is a very handsome example. The case exhibits excellent choices of mahogany, mahogany veneers and satinwood banding. All of which were selected for their strong grain pattern and formatted in a manner to command your attention. This case stands on four flared French feet. They exhibit excellent height and the front two smoothly transition into a drop apron that hangs from he center of the base panel. The feet and apron are visually separated from the base with a line inlay pattern. The base panel features a cross banded framing. This leads into an interesting inly pattern. The lightly colored banded terminates at the quarter fans positioned in each corner. All of which frames the vertically positioned crotch veneer pattern located in the canter of the base. This pattern is repeated in the long rectangular shaped waist door. This door is also trimmed with and applied molding. Through this door one can gain access to the original green painted tin can weights and the brass faced pendulum bob. The bob is supported by a metal rod. On the back of this door is a partial set up label. Brass stopped fluted quarter columns flank the waist. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet columns are also stopped fluted with brass and are fitted into brass capitals. These visually support the molded arch. Above this is a pierced and open fretwork design. It is a traditional New England style pattern incorporating three brass ball and spiked finials that are mounted on line inlaid chimney plinths. The arched bonnet door is double line inlaid and is fitted with glass. It opens to access the painted iron dial.
This 13 inch iron dial was painted in Boston and the artwork is attributed to Spencer Nolen and Samuel Curtis. It is interesting to note that this dial does not incorporate a false plate. This implies that it was on hand when the clockmaker was making the movement. The four spandrel areas decorated with lacy designs that frame a medallion in the center. The designs are highlighted in gilt paint. The time ring is formatted in a traditional display. The hours are marked in Roman numerals and the five minute markers are painted in an Arabic format. A coastal scene is painted in the arch of this dial. This arch is slightly concave. This provides the space for the automated ship to move in front of the painted scene. This sailing ship is automated by the motion of the pendulum. As a result, it will gently rock side to side with the motion of the pendulum. This automated display is a very desirable feature. The ship is depicted at sail flying an American Flag. This dial is signed by the Maker, “WARRANTED BY / W. CUMMENS ." This block letter signature can be plainly seen with in the time track below the calendar aperture.
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 was made circa 1795 an stands approximately 8 feet 1 inch tall or 97 inches tall, 21 inches wide and 10 inches deep.
About William Cummens of Roxbury, Massachusetts.
William Cummens was born 1768 and died on April 20, 1834 at the age of 66. He worked in Roxbury as a clockmaker as early as 1789 through 1834. He was trained by Simon Willard and along with Elnathan Taber, Cummens stayed in Roxbury and made many clocks for his own clients while maintaining a close working relationship with the Willard family. In this Roxbury location, Cummens had direct access to the same suppliers, such case makers and dial painters that the Willards used. As a result, his clocks are very similar in form. He was one of the first persons authorized by Simon Willard to manufacture the new patent timepiece. Over the past 45 plus years in business, we have owned and sold many tall case clocks, Massachusetts shelf clocks and wall timepieces signed by this important clockmaker. Very few tall case examples are found with his original set up label.
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