Edward Spalding working in Providence, Rhode Island. A Chippendale tall case clock.

This cherry tall-case clock in an old dry surface exhibits excellent narrow proportions. The composite brass dial is signed in the lunette by the Providence, Rhode Island clockmaker Edward Spalding.

This case is supported on four very nicely formed ogee bracket feet. A ogee shaped molding transitions up into the waist section which is long and narrow. Fitted here is a long tomb-stone shape waist door. This is trimmed with a molded edge. The hood is mounted above the cove shaped waist molding. Four free standing columns support the upper pediment. These are wonderfully detailed and slightly tapered. The columns are turned having shaped wooden capitals at each ends. The center sections are fluted. The back two are cut in half so they fit flat against the wall. The front two flank an arched shaped bonnet door. The side panels feature a sound slit in the panel. This is backed in silk. The double break arch pediment is a wonderful Chippendale detail. A small arched molding above the door is separated from the larger cove molding above it by an unadorned frieze. The upper molding is boldly formed. The center of this molding projects out and an architectural center fluted pilaster bisects the arch tympanum. Three carved wooden flame and ball shaped finials are mounted on wooden plinths. The plinths are capped and feature a fluted design.

The movement or works is constructed in brass and is good quality. Four turned pillars support the large brass framing. The works are weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is 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 on a stand. In addition to timekeeping and hourly striking, the mechanism also measures the progress of the day of the month. This calendar is displayed below the center arbor. These works are complemented by a particularly elaborate brass dial.

This style of dial, the composite brass dial, generally predates the more common painted dial form. It is composed of a brass base sheet that is decorated with applied brass cast spandrels, an applied chapter ring, an applied name boss and inset seconds hand. The chapter ring, name boss subsidiary seconds dial and calendar display are finished in a silver wash for contrast. The time ring displays the hours in a Roman numeral format. The five minute markers are indicated in each of the hour positions with the appropriate Arabic style numeral. A closed minute ring separates the two. The interior section of the time ring is textured or matted. The square window displays the calendar day. The subsidiary seconds dial is located below the Roman hour numeral “XII.” This is decorated with a six pointed star. One will also find the maker’s name and working location “Edward / Spalding / Providence” engraved in the applied name boss located in the lunette. The steel hands are nicely made.

This clock stands approximately 8 feet or 96 inches tall to the top of the center finial. It is 21.25 inches wide and 12.25 inches deep.

About Edward Spalding of Providence Rhode Island.

Currently, very little is known about Edward Spalding’s early life. His parents were Stephen and Marry (Lawrence) Spalding and they were living in Plainfield, Connecticut when Edward was born there in 1732. It appears that he moved to Providence at an early age and may have trained as a clockmaker in this city. To whom he served his apprenticeship is not currently known. A clock that he is known to have made while working Providence is dated 1753. This early date suggests that he made this clock shortly after he finished his indenture. As a result, he became one of Providence’s earliest clockmakers. In 1757, Edward married Audrey Safford. Together they had three children including Edward Jr., who was born in 1767. He trained under his father as a clockmaker. Edward (I) did a fair amount of advertising in the Providence Gazette during the period of 1766 — 1776. These adds suggest that he was very involved in clockmaking up until the Revolutionary War where he served as Captain and rose to the rank of Major. After the war he continued to make clocks. He died in Providence in 1785.

Prior to the American Revolution, very few Clockmakers were working in Rhode Island. The most notable of which are the Claggetts from Newport and together they made what is considered a significant number of clocks for the period. Other Clockmakers like James Wady did not fair so well in business. Their out put was much less significant making Spalding the premier clockmaker of his working period in the region.


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