Levi Pitkin of Montpelier, Vermont. An inlaid cherry case tall clock.
This cherry case has excellent proportions and decorative inlay work. The case stands on an applied bracket base. The four feet feature an unusual form. They are slightly splayed and as a result are three dimensionally formed. They exhibit excellent height, subtle return and are line inlaid in an unusual manner. This treatment is very successful. The base panel is line inlaid. The line inlay is a combination of two light maple and a contrasting darker line. The corners are of this pattern are rounded on the inside. These pie shaped pieces are appear to be maple. In the center of the base is a large six pointed star. This is comprised of twelve pieces of veneer. They alternate with light and dark selections of wood. This star is framed with a circular line inlay pattern. The waist section is fitted with a rectangular shaped door that is also decorated with line inlays. The outer edge is trimmed with a maple stringing. Another pattern makes a frame that is fitted with quarter fans in each corner. Through this door one can access the weights and pendulum. The sides of the waist are fitted with line inlaid quarter columns. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The hood or bonnet features an interesting variation of a "Whale’s tails" fret. This pattern has been seen on another Vermont made tall clock. The fret is supported by three fluted final plinths. They are capped at the top and are surmounted by ball and spike brass finials. The bonnet columns are smoothly turned and also line inlaid. These flank the arch inlaid bonnet door. This door is fitted with glass.
The painted iron dial is boldly signed by the clockmaker. It reads, "LEVI PITKIN / MONTPELIER." The time ring is formatted with Roman numeral hour figures. Arabic numerals are used as the five minute markers. This dial also displays the date of the month calendar and the seconds on a subsidiary dial. Each of the four spandrel areas are colorfully decorated with floral patterns. The arch of the dial features a bluebird.
The time and strike movement is of good quality and is designed to run eight days on a full wind and to strike each hour on a cast iron bell mounted above the plates. It is weight driven or weight powered. One can see the Influence of Pitkin’s master, Daniel Burnap. Please note the shape of the four movement posts and the manner in which the seatboard hooks secure the movement to the wooden platform. Also note that the winding barrels are not grooved.
This clock was made circa 1800. It stands approximately 7 feet 7 inches tall or 91 inches tall overall.
About Levi Pitkin of Montpelier, Vermont.
Levi Pitkin was the son of Joshua Pitkin and Anna Stanley and was born on February 23rd, 1774 in East Hartford, Connecticut. About 1787, he served an apprenticeship with the accomplished Windsor, Connecticut clockmaker, silversmith and engraver Daniel Burnap. We know that he moved north to the town of Montpelier, Vermont by 1796. It is recorded that he was an original member of the Aurora Lodge No. 9, F & AM which was chartered in that year. Jacob Kimball, a second clockmaker was also working in Montpelier at the time. In Montpelier, Levi is listed as a jeweler, silversmith and clockmaker and soon married Abigail Belden. Together they had three children. Eliza 1798-1870, Abigail 1803-1856 and Nathan 1800-1859. In April of 1800, Levi is recorded as one of 83 members that formed the first Congregational Society of Montpelier. In June of the same year, they formed the Congregational Church. In 1808, Levi’s wife died. This must have broken his heart because he moved to Marshfield and became one of several people “warned out of town.” (Between 1803 and 1817, the selectboard would “warn out of town” those people who might become indigent, thus relieving the town of responsibility for their care.) In 1811, Levi moves to Ogendensberg, NY and advertises his skills. In 1827, he is listed as living and working in Rochester, NY until about 1827. Levi died on June 1st, 1854 back in Ogendensberg.
Currently, only two tall clocks are known by this maker. One is owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution and is displayed in the John Strong Mansion in Addison, Vermont. A second clock is currently in a private Vermont collection.
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