Martin Cheney while working in Windsor, Vermont. An inlaid cherry case tall clock.

This is a wonderful inlaid cherry case tall clock. The painted dial is signed by the Windsor, Vermont clockmaker Martin Cheney.

This is a very good inlaid cherry cased tall clock exhibiting a good Vermont form and proportions. Applied bracket feet and a double stepped molding elevate this example up off the floor. The feet are applied to the bottom of the double steeped molding. These are a country interpretation of a sophisticated French form. These feet flare out in shape at the lower quarter of the design. The moldings incorporate two carved details. The first is a pattern that resembles the thread of a screw. The threads are positioned in a fashion so that they meet in the center. This detail is also repeated in the lower waist molding. The second display of carving is a simple chip carving which is located in the flat facing of the double step bracket. This is also an unusual detail. The base panel line inlaid with a line inlay pattern This narrow band is composed of a dark wood center line that is framed by a light wood line on each side. Three pieces of wood are used to make this detail. This inlay pattern is used as a decorative element in the hood and waist sections. The waist is long and narrow. It features a large waist door that is shaped at the top. This door is trimmed with a molded edge and is decorated with additional line inlay patterns. Open this door and one can access the interior of the case. The front corners of the waist are fitted with fluted quarter columns. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet features a New England style fret work pattern that is pierced. It is supported with three fluted finial plinths. Each is fitted with a brass ball and spiked finial. The molded arch is supported by fully turned and fluted bonnet columns. They are mounted in brass capitals. These columns flank the sides of the arched bonnet door. This door is line inlaid. It is fitted with glass and opens to access the dial of the clock.

The dial is iron and is colorfully painted decorated. The four spandrel areas and the arch are decorated with floral themes. This dial is signed by the clockmaker below the calendar aperture. It reads, “MARTIN CHENEY / WINDSOR.” in large block lettering. The time track is displayed in an traditional format. The hour are scheduled with Roman numerals. The five minute markers are indicated in Arabic numerals. This dial also shows the seconds on a subsidiary dial and the date of the month in an aperture located below the center arbor.

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. The pendulum features a brass faced bob.

This clock stands approximately 7 feet 10 inches tall. It was made circa 1805.

About Martin Cheney

In 1778, Martin Cheney was born into a well known and established clockmaking family. He was one of four clockmakers born to Benjamin Cheney 1725-1815 and Elizabeth Long Cheney in East Hartford, Connecticut. Benjamin most likely trained all four of his boys in the art of clockmaking. Asahel was the oldest and was born in 1759. He moves on into Vermont. Elisha was born in 1770 and died in 1847. He settled in Berlin, Connecticut. Russell was younger. It appears he moved North to Putney, Vermont. Martin also had an uncle Timothy 1731-1795. He becomes a well known clockmaker in East Hartford and works closely with Benjamin. By 1803, Martin moved up the Connecticut river to Windsor, Vermont. In 1804 he advertises that he has for sale fine English Watches, watch keys, chains and seals. He moves to Montreal in 1809. Here he remained for some twenty years. In 1827, Martin places an advertisement in Burlington, Vermont newspaper for a journeyman clockmaker to work with him in Montreal. In 1817 he forms a partnership with J. A. Dwight and advertised this business as Cheney & Dwight. Several clocks have been recorded by this Maker. Pictured in “The Best the Country Affords: Vermont Furniture 1765 – 1850” is a signed brass dial tall clock by Asahel Cheney. On the seat boat of the clock it is written, “This clock made by Martin Cheney.” This implies that the two work with it other on occasion. There is also a Massachusetts Shelf clock form with an engraved kidney style brass dial in the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. This clock is signed by “Martin Cheney Windsor.” This clock has a strong Boston influence.

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