David Williams inlaid mahogany cased shelf clock. A Newport, Rhode Island clockmaker.

This rare Federal Massachusetts Shelf Clock was made by David Williams in Newport, Rhode Island.

This Massachusetts Shelf Clock was made by David Williams of Newport, Rhode Island circa 1815. The case is constructed in mahogany, mahogany veneers, maple string inlays and New England white pine is used as a secondary wood. The case is standing on nicely shaped or flared French feet centering a fanciful scrolled apron that visual drops down off the base section. The base section is cross-banded with a broad mahogany veneered border. This is joined together with a miter in each corner. A delicate inlay pattern frames this section of the case. The access door is formatted with a large figure maple oval which is also framed with a delicate string inlay pattern. The bonnet features a traditional New England fretwork pattern that supports a single brass finial. The hood door is arched glazed and opens to an arched painted iron dial.

The dial is signed in the lower half of the center section by the Maker. It plainly reads, “David Williams / New Port.” The spandrel areas are decorated with lacy gilt themes. This is theme repeated in the arch. The addition of a colorfully painted medallion is centered in this location. This dial was most likely painted in Boston by the Nolen & Curtis firm. It is interesting to note that this firm appears to be responsible for many of the shelf clock dials constructed during this period, regardless of the Maker. This dial attaches directly to the movement. The time only weight driven movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. It is designed to run eight-days on a full wind.

This clock was made circa 1815. The case has the following dimensions in inches: 37 to the top of the finial. Measured at the feet, the case is 11 wide and 5 deep.

We have owned a fair number of clocks made by this Maker. The majority of which have been tall case clocks and wall timepieces. Very few shelf clocks have been recorded.


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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