A superb Federal period wall time piece or banjo clock made by Oliver Gerrish of Portland, Maine circa 1826.
Banjo clocks, as they are commonly called today, come in a variety of grades. This example, has to be considered a Maine Masterpiece. The quality of the case and design and construction of the movement is first rate. It may be on a plateau of it’s own.
? The is a gilt front example is original from the top of the wooden carved finial to the tip of the acorn drop finial mounted to the presentation bracket. The case is mahogany and the secondary wood is chestnut. The wooden frames are fitted with rope moldings. These decorative elements as well as the bracket and hand carve eagle finial retain their original gilt surfaces. The sidearms and the dial bezel are cast in brass. The bezel is fitted with glass to protect the enameled iron dial. This dial features Roman style hour figures. The time is indicated by wonderfully made and shaped steel hands. They are reminiscent of the hands that Lemuel Curtis was making in Concord, Massachusetts having cS-loops and tapering to a point. The frames support eglomisé panels. The throat panel depicts an image of Lady Liberty. Above her are various gilt designs and the inscription "PATENT." The lower door is fitted with an eglomisé tablet depicting several buildings set on the bank of a river. A stone bridge is depicted in the background. Several human figures are busy at work. The colors are excellent. Inside the case is the Clockmaker’s movement.
This weight driven movement is secured to the backboard with a single screw. Locating pins are used to aide in alignment. The construction or design of the mechanism is very unusual for the period and the form. It exhibits a high level of skill and a knowledge of watch construction. The cast plates are brass. The front plate is die-stamped with the Maker’s name and the dates (1826) (1876). The Maker’s name die-stamp is more of a hallmark which was also used by Gerrish in the imprinting of his silver pieces. The brass plates support the steel pinions and the brass gearing. The teeth in the gearing are deeply cut. The escapement is dead beat and the method of attaching or hanging the pendulum is on a knife edge. This movement is also fitted retaining or maintaining winding power. These last two elements of design were used in the construction of many high grade regulators. The clock is powered by a lead weight and is designed to run eight days before it needs to be rewound.
This wonderful clock measures approximately 40.5 inches in length.
About Oliver Gerrish of Portland, Maine.
Oliver Gerrish watchmaker, clockmaker, silversmith and jeweler was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on January 4th 1796. He was the son of Timothy Gerrish (1756-1815) a gold and silversmith and Dorothy Paterson (1756-1845). In 1810, at the age of fourteen, he went with and apprenticed to watchmaker John Gaines. Gaines was a descendant of the Gaines family of chairmakers. Oliver served his seven year apprenticeship and in 1817 went on to work as a journeyman in Boston. Her he first worked for Williams and Johnson. Their shop was located at the corner of Washington and Court streets. With in nine months, Oliver moved on and worked with Baldwin and Jones. By 1819 he moved to Portland, Maine and opened a jewelers shop on Exchange Street. On Jan 6th, 1825, he married Sarah Little in Portland Maine From 1858-77, he worked in partnership with his nephew, Nathaniel Pearson. Oliver Gerrish was an active member of the Portland community. He served as the President of the Portland Savings Bank and the Mechanics Association and Aged Brotherhood. He was a member of the Board of Trade, The National Historical Society and the Portland Athenaeum. He was a prominent Mason and held just abut every imaginable post in that organization. He was also Secretary and Treasurer of the Relief Fire Society. Oliver died on Dec 3rd, 1888.
For more information about this clock click here .