Elijah Whiton A clockmaker working in Groton, Massachusetts. A banjo clock.

A fine federal Massachusetts timepiece or “Banjo clock” made circa 1830 in the rural community of Groton, Massachusetts.

This fine example features very traditional proportions. The case is constructed in mahogany and retains an older finish. The frames are very unusual. They are flat and decorated with a beaded edge along the interior and outside edges of the frames. This is a detail we do not see in frequency. These are fitted with reverse painted tablets that are original to this example. The throat tablet features a somewhat typical theme exhibited on a non-traditional black field. The contrast of the predominately gilt decoration on a black field is striking. The lower tablet is formatted in a similar manner but is not a noticeable due to the size of the decoration. The scene depicted in the red framed oval is a pastoral setting. A small country cottage sits at the base of a hill. A number of well fed cattle graze in the foreground. A large tree dominates the right side of this scene and helps provide depth to the view. An oval window in to this charming landscape is framed with a simple gilt design. One looks through this to see the motion of the pendulum when the clock is operating. The four corners of the tablet are decorated with a cluster of gilt balls laid on top of a green area. Both tablets are original to this clock and have had some minor restoration over their history. The dial bezel and the decorative side arms are cast in brass. The bezel is fitted with glass and opens to access the painted iron dial. This dial features Roman style hour numerals. This dial is also signed by the Maker. It reads “Elijah Whiton / Groton.”

The brass constructed movement is weight driven and is designed to run for eight days on a wind. The movement is mounted to the back of the case with a single screw. This screw secures the back plate to the backboard. The plates are long and rectangular. The teeth in the gear train are deeply cut. The bridge which supports the pendulum is a butterfly design.

This clock measures approximately 34.5 inches long to the top of the brass eagle finial.

About Elijah Whiton of Groton and Hingham, Massachusetts.

Elijah Whiton was born in Hingham, Massachusetts on March 6, 1799 and died there on February 10, 1871 at the age of 72. He is listed in Paul Foley’s book, “Willard’s Patent Time Pieces” as a clockmaker, watchmaker, silversmith, mathematical instrument maker and a wooden ware manufacturer. He worked in Groton for many years in various trades. Advertisements and real estate records locate him in Groton as early as 1822. It appears that he stayed and worked in several Groton locations until 1839. After which, it appears he returned to Hingham. It is easy to speculate that his clock output was very limited. In all the years that we have been in business, we have seen ony two examples signed by this clockmaker.

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