Benjamin Clark Gilman of Exeter, New Hampshire. A tall case clock.

27146 Benjamin Clark Gilman of Exeter, New Hampshire. A tall case clock.

This is a very good example of a rural New England manufactured tall case clock. The case is constructed in cherry an retains an excellent original surface. Several moldings are highlighted in black paint. This decorative treatment is original to this example. This case stands on applied bracket base. The feet are simply shaped but transition to a decorative scrolled or scalloped skirting. The waist section centers a tombstone shaped waist door. Through this door one can access the weights and pendulum. The bonnet features an open arch design. The arches terminate in decoratively formed or carved pinwheels. Three brass ball and spike finials are mounted at the top of the case. They are supported on plinths. The center plinth is nicely shaped. Fully turned hood columns flank the sides of the arch bonnet door. The columns are mounted in brass capitals and are free standing. This door is fitted with glass and opens to access the painted iron dial.

This painted iron dial is of English manufacture. It was made by the Osbourne Manufactory in Birmingham, England. It is designed with colorful florals, strawberries and raised gesso borders. The time track displays the hours and minutes in a traditional format. A subsidiary seconds dial and calendar window are also present. The Maker’s initials are signed in large block letters below the calendar aperture. It reads “B. C. G.”

The movement is brass, eight-day duration and of good quality. It is weight driven and features a rack and snail strike system and a recoil escapement. It is designed to run for eight days on a full wind and strikes each hour on a bell.

This case measures approximately 7 feet 2 inches tall to the top of the center brass finial, 22.25 inches wide and 10 inches deep. This clock was made circa 1805.

About Benjamin Clark Gilman of Exeter, New Hampshire.

Benjamin Clark Gilman was born July 8, 1763 and died on October 13, 1835. He was youngest of eleven children born to Major John and Jane Deane Gilman. In 1788 he married his cousin Mary Thing. Together, they had eight children. He served as a selectman for the town of Exeter for eight years. Frank O. Spinney wrote in an article for the September, 1943 magazine “Antiques” titled, “An Ingenious Yankee Craftsman.” In that article, Spinney listed many of Gilman’s talents. He was a “silversmith, engraver, watch and clockmaker, builder, hydraulic engineer, merchant, landlord and instrument maker.” On the April 8th, 1791 edition of the “New Hampshire Gazetteer,” Gilman advertised, “That he carries on clockmaking at his shop in Exeter. As he has done something in the Business for several years past, he now flatters himself of having a thorough knowledge of it – and while he is endeavoring to promote so useful an Art, he requests the particular encouragement of his Friends and Customers.” As an hydraulic engineer, Benjamin was involved with the construction of several aqueducts. These were constructed by boring out the center of logs and joining them together in order to move water. He worked on projects as far away as New London, Connecticut and the coastal cities of Salem and Boston, Massachusetts as well as Portsmouth, New Hampshire. As a builder, it is known that he constructed a lighthouse at the entrance of Portsmouth harbor in 1803.

Over the years of being in the business of buying and selling clocks, we have owned over a half a dozen tall case clock made by this maker. The vast majority of which have had painted dials that were signed with his initials just under the calendar. An engraved brass dial clock has also been recorded. In addition to tall clocks, a Massachusetts shelf clock is pictured in Albert Sack’s “Fine Points of Furniture.” Another interesting shelf clock is pictured in Parsons, “New Hampshire Clocks and Clockmakers.” The collection of the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire reportedly owns several silver spoons by Gilman as well as an engraved watch paper. Several instruments which include a carriage pedometer a nocturnal and an engraved copper plate used to print dials for a surveyor’s or mariner’s compass have been recorded.

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