William Thompson. Watch and clockmaker of Baltimore, Maryland. An impressive inlaid mahogany cased tall clock.

This very attractive Federal period mahogany tall case clock stands a full 103.5 inches (8 feet 7.7.5 inches) tall. It widest dimension measures on the hood molding. Here it is 23 inches wide and 11 inches deep. The extensive use of carefully chosen figured mahogany veneers used throughout the case design suggests that this example was well planned out for a sophisticated customer.

This case stands on four boldly formed applied ogee bracket feet. These are mounted to simple molding that is applied to the base. The base is nicely formatted. The front panel features a cross-banded border. An interior light line inlay pattern separates this perimeter framing from the central panel. Here, a pair of wonderfully figured book matched veneers are positioned in a vertical orientation. The crotch mahogany grain pattern selected for this location is vibrant. The waist section is long and is fitted with a long rectangular shaped door. This door is veneered with another wonderfully figured selection of mahogany. This is also trimmed with a light wood string border and a cross-banded frame. The outer edge of the door is trimmed with an additional thin line of light inlay. The sides of the waist are fitted with fluted quarter columns. These terminate at both ends in carved wooden quarter capitals. The bonnet features a cornice molding that is inlaid with a dental design. This molding supports an applied swans neck pediment. This is designed with a pierced fret and the horns terminate in inlaid light wood pinwheels. A central veneered inlay plinth supports a carved urn and flame finial. The front facade is veneered with an excellent selection of mahogany. It is also inlaid with a bell flower pattern in each corner. Fully turned and fluted bonnet columns ending in simple wooden capitals flank the arched glazed door which opens to a colorfully painted iron moon phase dial.

This colorfully painted dial displays hours, minutes, sweep seconds and calendar from the center arbor. The lunar calendar or phases of the moon are displayed in the arch. The spandrel areas are decorated with floral designs. This painted dial is signed by the clockmaker in block lettering. It reads, “Wm. THOMPSON / BALTIMORE.”

The weight driven movement is constructed in brass. It is designed to run for an eight day duration and to strike each hour on the hour on a cast iron bell. The bell is mounted above the movement on a stand. The positive motion of the dead-beat escapement is translated or displayed in the sweep second hand. This movement is good quality.

This clock was made circa 1797.

About William Thompson of Baltimore, Maryland.

It is suggested that William Thompson may have been British trained. He is listed as a watch and clockmaker in Baltimore during the period of 1795 through 1800. His first recored location is at 55 Gay Street in 1795. In 1797, he forms a partnership with William Elliot that lasted approximately one year until January 25, 1798. It is thought that Thompson was the clockmaker. Thompson is then listed as working at his home on 4 Center Market. It is also recorded that he had five apprentices learning the watchmaking trade and one learning clockmaking. He died in 1800.


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