Benjamin Cheney of Hartford, Connecticut. An 8-day brass movement tall clock. Timothy and Samuel Loomis cabinetmakers working in Windsor. 29004

This very unusual cherry case form retains an older finish. It is closely related to a group of cases that are thought to have been made by cabinetmaking brothers, Timothy and Samuel Loomis. Both cabinetmakers worked in Windsor, CT. This Queen Anne form and should appeal to the furniture collector of the earlier American colonial periods. The appeal would be the boldly shaped moldings and decorative elements.

This case stands on an applied bracket base molding which rests flat to the floor. This molding is applied directly to the base section. The base is some-what compressed reflecting an early pre-Revolutionary American form. The molding that transitions the base section to the waist features an ogee shape. The waist section is quite long. It is fitted with a narrowly shaped tombstone door that is trimmed with a simple molded edge. This is flanked on both sides by inset and spirally turned quarter columns. These are fitted into pockets that are trimmed with a cock-beaded housing or framing. The spiral turnings are complex. This design is thought to be unique to this region. The bonnet features a caddy or sarcophagus top. Two chimneys or finial plinths are mounted out on the outer corners of the hood. Each supports a turned wooden finial that is gilded. There are four nicely shaped bonnet columns which visually support the arch. There are two mounted at the back of the bonnet and the other two are mounted directly to the bonnet door. The bonnet door is an arched form and is fitted with glass. It opens to access the brass composite dial.

This style of dial predates the painted dial. It is composed of a brass base sheet that is decorated with applied brass spandrels and chapter rings. The chapter ring, name plaque and calendar dial are finished in a silver wash for contrast. In the arch of this dial is a Silent / Strike indicator and or actuator. One would turn the steel formed hand to the desired position in order to engage or disengage the striking mechanism. The large chapter ring is also applied to the dial. This ring displays the hours in a Roman numeral format. The five minute markers are indicated in each of the hour positions with Arabic style numerals. The center of this section is nicely matted. This was most likely done to aide in ones ability to located the hands while reading the dial. A brass dial will tarnish over a period of time making it somewhat difficult to read in a room lit by candles. This dial also features the subsidiary seconds dial which is engraved and silvered. The calendar day is located in the aperture below the center arbor. The steel hands are wonderfully made.

The movement is constructed in brass having nicely finished cast brass plates which are supported by smoothly turned brass posts. The gearing is brass and the pinions are steel. The movement is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. This clock strikes the hour on a bell. The strike train is located between the plates and is actuated by a rack and snail design. The winding barrels grooved. The movement is supported by a seat-board.

This is a fine example made by a well known Connecticut Clockmaker circa 1780. This example stands 7 feet 4.5 inches tall overall. It is approximately 20.5 inches wide and 13 inches deep.

A related case to this clock is in the collection of the American Clock and Watch museum.


About Benjamin Cheney of East Hartford and Berlin, Connecticut.

Benjamin Cheney was born on September 8, 1725 in East Hartford, Connecticut. His parents were Benjamin, who was originally from Newbury, MA and Elizabeth (Long) Cheney. They had three children. Benjamin was the oldest. It is thought that he served his apprenticeship, beginning about 1739 under the guidance of Seth Youngs in Hartford. Benjamin owned his own shop in Hartford in about 1745 where he made both brass and wooden geared clocks. It appears that he may have been the first clockmaker in America to make wooden geared movements. It is thought that he made far more wooden geared examples than the brass made clocks. His wooden made movements are very distinctive in that they are robustly made and oversized by comparison to other makers. Benjamin trained a number of clockmakers including his younger brother Timothy (b.1731 — d.1795) and John Fitch (b.1758 — d.1808). He also trained four of his sons, Ashel (b. 1759 — d.?), Elisha (b.1770 — d.1747), Martin (b.1778 — d.1855) and Russell (b.1772 — d.?). His most famous apprentice was Benjamin Willard of Grafton, MA (b.1743 — d.1844). Benjamin Cheney died on May 15th, 1815 at the age of 90. He is buried in Berlin, CT where he finished his life living with his son Elisha. Elisha’s home was located at he top of the hill, south of Bowers Corners. Benjamin worked there in the shop until he became enfeebled in body and mind. A single stone in the graveyard east of the Jarvis farm marks both Benjamin’s and his wife’s Deborah Olcott ( b.1738 — d.November 3, 1817) resting place.


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