James Snelling of Providence, Rhode Island. A Federal mahogany shelf clock. XXSL31

This Massachusetts Shelf Clock was made by Snelling of Providence, Rhode Island circa 1815. The case is constructed in mahogany, mahogany veneers and New England white pine. The backboard is signed with an inscription that reads, “Thomas G. Dagget & Son, Watch and Clock Makers, December 23, 1847.”

This clock stands on four flared French feet. Their lines transition from one to another by forming a drop apron in between the feet. The base panel is visually separated from the feet by a light line inlay that starts at the back of the first side panel, comes froward and then across the base panel and back to the back edge of the case. The front panel is nicely figured having a selection of wood that exhibits a long sweeping grain pattern. This panel is frames with a narrow mahogany cross-banded border. The hood is surmounted with three reeded finial plinths. Each is capped at the top and supports a brass decorative finial. A simple step back molding helps support the plinths. The bonnet or hood door aperture is fitted with glass and the door opens to access the dial. The dial is fitted to the case with a mask board. This mask board retains its original red paint.

The paint decorated dial is iron. A gold band frames the time ring. The minutes are displayed in a closed circle. The hours are indicated in an Arabic style numerals. Below the time ring is a decorative area that one will find the Maker’s signature. The signature is signed in a script format. It reads, “James Snelling.” This is framed painted drapery. The art work is simple but is also very well done. This dial was most likely painted by Spencer Nolen in Boston, Massachusetts.

The weight powered time only movement is constructed in brass. The gearing is supported by steel shafts and polished steel pinions. The escapement is a recoil format. This movement is designed to run for an eight-day duration and is good quality.

This clock was made circa 1815 and stands approximately 35.5 inches tall, 12 inches wide and 6.25 inches deep.

About James Snelling of Providence, Rhode Island.

James Snelling, Providence Rhode Island. Currently, very little is known of James Snelling. Their is a vague reference that he was born in 1782 and died in 1828. It also suggests that he was at work in Providence in 1810 through 1828. I have had a difficult time confirming this. We do know that he signed the dial of a Massachusetts shelf clock. Based on the style of the case and dial, that clock was made circa 1815. It is most certianly a Boston example. The clock mentioned was case is a tradtional Boston form and had a painted kidney shaped dial painted by the Boston ornamental artist Spencer . As a result, we speculate that Snelling had connections to the Boston Makers on some level and most likely retailed that clock. Snelling may have owned a small shop or store in Providence?


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