Elnathan Taber, Roxbury, Massachusetts. This cross banded mahogany case tall clock featuring a rocking ship automated dial.

This impressive mahogany and cross banded case exhibits excellent proportions and is constructed in the finest mahogany veneers. The case measures approximately 8 feet 5.5 inches tall to the top of the center finial, 20 inches wide and 10.5 inches deep.

This mahogany case stands on four nicely formed flared French feet that smoothly transition into a drop apron. This apron hangs below the base section. The base is designed with a cross banded framing around the perimeter of the front panel. This main panel is veneered with a large crotch section of veneer that is vertical formatted. This design is consistent with that of the design used on the waist door. This waist door is long and is trimmed with an applied molding. One would open this door in order to gain access to the inside of the case. Here, the original wooden pendulum rod, brass faced bob, rating nut and the two red painted tin can weights are accessible. The side of the waist are fitted with carved quarter columns that incorporate a twisted design. These unusual columns terminate in wooden capitals. The upper capitals a wonderfully carved. The bonnet features a traditional New England pierced and open fret work design. This is supported by three reeded and capped plinths that are surmounted by three brass finials. Two spirally turned bonnet columns visually support the upper bonnet molding. These also feature a hand carved design at the top. The sides of the bonnet are fitted with tombstone shaped side lights. The arched bonnet door is fitted with glass and opens to access the colorfully painted iron dial.

This iron dial was paint decorated by the Boston ornamental artists, Spencer Nolan. It is signed by the clockmaker, “Elnathan Taber” in script lettering. In fact the entire signature reads, “Warranted by E. Taber / Roxbury.” The location of the signature is positioned just below the month calendar aperture. In addition, you will find the stamp of George Babcock a Providence, Rhode Island retailer of clocks. As a retailer, he most likely had the opportunity to sell this clock through his business in Providence. This is also located below the calendar aperture but is printed in a much smaller font. The four spandrel areas are colorfully paint decorated with fruit themes. This includes shapely pears which are uncommon to dial decoration and apples and berries. The automated feature of a rocking ship is located in the arch of this dial. The painted ship actually moves or rocks gently from side to side with the motion of the pendulum. The painted scene behind the sailing ship includes a large lighthouse which is built out on a peninsula on the right. This nautical theme is painted on a convex piece of metal which adds to the visual depth to the scene. Automated tall clocks are difficult to find. It is thought that they would have been made as a special request and therefore more were expensive than the standard flat dial form. This dial also displays the hours, minutes, seconds and calendar date in the traditional format.

The movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. Four turned pillars support the two brass plates. Hardened steel shafts support the polished steel pinions and brass gearing. The winding drums are grooved. The escapement is designed as a recoil format. The movement is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is a two train or a time and strike design having a rack and snail striking system. As a result, it will strike each hour on the hour. This is done on a cast iron bell which is mounted above the movement.

This beautiful clock was made circa 1815. It stands approximately 8 feet 5.5 inch tall to the top of the center finial.

About Elnathan Taber Roxbury, Massachusetts

Elnathan Taber was born in Dartmouth, Massachusetts on February 14, 1768 and may have died there in 1870 at the age of 86. It appears that his grave was moved on October 29th, 1870 and he was interned at the Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. The name of his father is not currently known. His mother was Elizabeth Borne and coincidentally very little is known about her. Elnathan is the older brother of Stephen Taber who’s fortune help found Taber Academy in Marion, MA. Both brothers traveled to Roxbury and were trained as clockmakers by the Willards. After serving his apprenticeship, Elnathan stayed and worked in Roxbury. His shop was located on Union Street. Elnathan maintained a close working relationship with his mentor Simon became one of Simon Willard’s most famous apprentices. We have owned and sold numerous tall case clocks made by this Maker. In addition, we have also owned a good number of wall timepieces in the form of banjo clocks and coffin clocks as well as several Massachusetts shelf clock forms.


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