Abel Stowell of Charlestown, Massachusetts. Wall clock. Tavern clock.

This mahogany cased clock was made circa 1830 and is signed in script on the dial, “Abel Stowell, Charlestown, Mass.” This clock is designed to hang on a wall. It’s original purpose may have had a commercial application. We have found similar clocks in limited numbers over the years signed by Aaron Willard, and J. N. Dunning. In fact, I was fortunate to appraise an Aaron Willard example on the Antique Roadshow in 2007. One can easily speculate that this form did not survive well due to the lack of a personal connection as a result of being owned and or being displayed by a business establishment of some kind. Interestingly, the form was extensively copied and slightly modified by others over the years. First the Terry’s of Connecticut made a similar style and then E. Howard, Seth Thomas, Boston Clock, etc. all offered clocks made in a similar form which was successfully sold.

This case is constructed in mahogany having New England white pine secondary woods. The mahogany features an older and possibly and original finish. The mahogany selected for the construction of this case is first rate. Please note the wonderful crotch veneered door that dominates the front of the case. The base or lower section of the case rolls back to the wall forming a quarter round. Positioned above this is the access door. This door allows one access to the brass faced pendulum bob and weight. The circular wooden bezel is nicely formed and is fitted with glass. It opens to a 12 inch circular dial. The painted iron dial is convex and features a closed time ring. Roman numerals are used to mark the hours. The quarter hours are marked with Arabic numerals. The Maker’s script signature is located below the center arbor. This dial is mounted onto a rabbeted head. The brass movement is weight driven and is designed run for eight days on a full wind. The teeth in the gear train are deeply cut. This clock measures 30.25 inches long overall.

Inside this case is a note that reads, “This clock was given to me by Mr. Spaulding at the time he gave up his Presidency of the New England Telephone & Telegraph Company, February 1, 1919. E W Langley.”

About Abel Stowell Jr., of Charlestown, Massachusetts.

Abel Stowell Jr. was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on March 14, 1789 and died in Charlestown, Massachusetts on Sept. 6, 1860. He was the son of Abel Stowell Senior who was an ingenious individual. Senior is listed in Paul Foley’s book, Willard’s Patent Time Pieces” as a clockmaker, watchmaker, screwmaker and inventor. Over his lifetime, he applied for and was granted several patents for various types of machinery. Many of these patents involved cutting the head of a screw. It is thought that he trained his sons in many of his fields of expertise.

Abel Stowell Jr. is also listed in Foley’s book. He is listed as working in the following Massachusetts towns. They include Worcester, Groton, Medford, Boston and Charlestown. Abel Stowell Jr. worked as a clockmaker, watchmaker, screwmaker and jeweler. Stowell is listed as being in partnership with his brother-in-law James Ridgeway in 1812-16. The two were working in Groton as clockmakers under the firm name, Ridgeway & Stowell. It is interesting to note that Stowell was living in Medford by 1814 and he was married there. He also operated a screw and nail making factory in this town. Sometime around 1819, it is thought that Abel dropped the use of “junior” from his name. This was shortly after his father’s death. In 1822-23, Stowell is then listed in the Boston Directories as a clockmaker. His shop is located on Cambridge street. At the same time he was also maintaining business interests in Medford and Charlestown. In 1824 Abel and his brother John J. Stowell formed a business together in Charlestown. In November of 1835, Abel advertised that he was located at No. 78, Main Street. Here he sold “Watches, Jewelry,… Eight day Timepieces,…” Shortly after, He took his son Abel Jr. III into partnership and in November of 1838, he advertised as Abel Stowell & Son. This partnership was dissolved in 1846 and Abel Jr. started to advertise as “successors to A. Stowell & Son.” It should be noted that Abel Stowell had two sons, Abel Jr. III and Alexander who also followed him in the trade.


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