Curtis & Dunning gilt framed wall timepiece or 'banjo' clock made in Burlington, Vermont.

This is a fine Federal Massachusetts timepiece or “Banjo clock” made in Burlington, Vermont circa 1825 by Lemuel Curtis & Joseph N. Dunning.

This is an excellent example. The case is constructed in mahogany and features rope turnings which are applied to the gilded frames. The original gilding remains intact and is in very good condition. It is remarkable that it has survived in such excellent shape. The frames are fitted with reverse painted tablets. The tablets are original to this clock and are executed in excellent colors. The lower tablet depicts an allegorical scene. It is Aurora in her chariot. Aurora is the goddess of the dawn. In mythology, she renews herself each day and flies across the sky announcing the arrival of the sun. Her chariot being pulled by two white winged horses. This scene is framed in a red border. The throat decoration is also framed in this same border. The center of the design features a decorative geometric pattern. Both tablets exhibit a vey high level of artistic skill. The bezel, the pierced side arms and the period eagle and ball finial which surmounts this case are brass. The bezel is fitted with a clear piece of glass and opens to a paper dial that is signed by the clockmakers.

This paper dial reads, “WARRANTED / By / Curtis & Dunning.” It is wonderfully signed. A place location is not given. This partnership used paper dials for a number of years shortly after moving from Concord to Burlington, Vermont. Because these dials are paper, they often have discolored slightly showing evidence of being approximately 190 years old. A small number of these survive today. This dial also shows some light staining. The time track is formatted with large Roman style hour numerals. The minute ring is closed. The hands are steel and lightly hand filed.

Behind the dial, is a brass movement that is weight driven and is designed to run approximately eight days on a full wind. The movement is mounted to the back of the case with a single screw. The pendulum features a “Concord” style keystone and a brass faced bob.

This clock was made circa 1825 and measures approximately 41 inches long overall. It remains in very good original condition.

About Lemuel Curtis and Joseph N. Dunning Curtis & Dunning, of Burlington, Vermont.

The partnership of Curtis & Dunning was comprised of Lemuel Curtis and Joseph N. Dunning. It was formed in 1820 in Concord, Massachusetts and moved to Burlington, Vermont in 1821. They worked together until 1832. They are listed as clockmakers, silversmiths and jewelers. Over the last 40 plus years of being in business, we have bought and sold numerous examples of their work. They produced several forms of the timepiece which include banjo clocks, tavern clocks, the girandole, lyre wall clocks, regulators and even shelf models.

Lemuel Curtis was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts on July 3rd, 1790. He died in New York on June 17th, 1857. Lemuel had two brothers who were also involved with clockmaking. He was the nephew of Aaron Willard and probably trained with Simon Willard in Roxbury. In 1811, he advertised working on his owned in Concord. He was a terrific clockmaker and the inventor of the Girandole form..

Joseph Dunning was born in Brunswick, Maine on January 2nd, 1795 and died in Burlington, Vermont on December 14th, 1841. He was first a journeyman working for Curtis in Concord before their partnership in 1820. After this arrangement dissolved in 1832, he continued to work on his own and died bankrupt at the age of 46.

For and in depth description of their clockmaking activity, please read Paul Foley’s book, “Willard’s Patent Time Pieces.”

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