Enoch Burnham of Paris, Maine. A cross-banded mixed woods case tall clock.

This fine example exhibits a traditional form that was popular in Augusta. The case is constructed in a number of indigenous woods such as birch, maple, bird’s-eye and maple. White pine is used as a secondary wood. Mahogany veneer is used as an accent wood. The primary woods are treated in a brown wash that adds consistency to the natural coloring. This treatment is most likely original to this example and is in excellent condition. This fine example stands on cut-out bracket feet. They have good height and transition into a drop apron below the base section. The lower molding is a simple design and is applied to three sides of the base section. A rectangular shape door is fitted into the waist section. It is framed with an applied molding. This molding is finely reeded. The door panel is framed in a mahogany cross-banded border. The central panel features a selection of bird’s-eye maple veneer. Quarter columns are set into the corners of the waist and are decorated with ring turnings. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet features a pierced an open fretwork style pattern. This is a traditional Augusta pattern. The three finial plinths are surmounted with brass ball and spike finials. The bonnet columns are turned and end in brass capitals. They flank the arched bonnet door which is fitted with glass and opens to a colorfully painted dial of Boston origin.

This dial appears to be of Boston manufacture. It is an iron dial that is attached directly to the movement with out a false plate. It was most likely painted by the Willard & Nolen firm of Boston circa 1805. It is skillfully decorated featuring traditional themes for this period. The four spandrel areas are decorated with American shields. Fanciful gesso and gilt designs frame these details. Painted in the arch, a golden delicious apple is represented. Additional gilt swags compliment the design. This dial is signed by the clockmaker below the calendar aperture. It reads, “Enoch Burnham / PARIS.” The time track is displayed in a 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 original tin can weights are still with this clock. The pendulum features a brass faced bob.

This case measures 89.5 inches or 7 feet 4.5 inches tall to the top of the center brass finial. It is 21 inches wide and 9.5 inches deep at the upper hood molding. This fine example was made circa 1805.

About Enoch Burnham of Paris and Westbrook, Maine.

It is not currently known where Enoch Burnham was born. It is now assumed that he was born in the area of Paris, Maine sometime around 1770. The town or village of Paris is located approximately 50 miles northwest of Portland in Oxford County. It is the county seat. It is a charming village having wonderful views of both Mt. Chocorua and Mt. Washington. Both of these mountains are in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The town is known for its excellent pastures and its orchards have thrived for years. It also benefits from having the Little Androscoggin River which provided water power for the industrious minded.

Burnham was well established as a clockmaker in Paris prior to 1800 and was the first clockmaker to work there. It is recorded that Burnham owned a considerable amount of land in this small farming community. He taught the trade to Augustus Bemis (q.v.) who in turn taught his brother Jonathan. Jonathan was born in Paris Hill in 1788 and died in Biddeford in 1851. (From the History of Paris, Oxford County, Maine: Wm. B. Lapham & Silas P. Maxim, 1884.) In the 1820s, Burnham is recorded as living in Westbrook, Maine until his death sometime before 1850.

Very few clocks by Burnham are known. Examples of signed Burnham clocks are difficult to come by. Most of the tall case clocks reported are signed on the dial. The place location is almost always listed as Paris. Two Westbrook examples are known. For a more complete listing of Maine clockmakers, please review Clockmakers & Clockmaking in Maine 1770 thru 1900, written by Joseph R. Katra Jr.

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