Birge & Fuller of Bristol, Connecticut single candlestick mantel clock. A wagon spring powered steeple on steeple. AAA-26

This is a very good example of a 30-hour wagon spring powered steeple on steeple clock which was manufactured by the firm of Birge & Fuller in Bristol, Connecticut. This is a highly collectable example due to the fact that it is powered with a wagon spring mechanism and that it housed in a seldom seen single candlestick case.

This is an excellent example. Today, this unusual model is called a single candlestick steeple on steeple. The name is reflective of the single wooden candlestick shaped wooden spires that are mounted on either side of the case. It is interesting that the form that features four candle sticks, called the double candlestick model is much more easy to locate in the marketplace. This case is constructed in mahogany and mahogany veneers. It retains an older finish. Even still, one can view the variations of grain patterns and wood color exhibited in the veneer. The case is raise up on four turned compressed ball feet. Two doors access the interior of the case. The lower door is fitted with a frosted glass. The pattern allows you to view the motion of the brass faced pendulum bob when the clock is operating. The upper door is fitted with a painted tablet and a clear piece of glass is put in front of the dial. All three glass panels are original to this clock. The decorated tablets are in excellent original condition. The dial is painted on tin and features a Roman numeral formatted time ring.

The movement in this clock is brass. It is quite typical in that it is designed to run thirty hours on a full wind and strike each hour on a wire gong mounted inside the case. Where it differs from most other 30 hour movement examples is in the manner in which it is powered. (This is a Joseph Ives Patent.) The most common method of powering a Connecticut clock is with a simple coil spring. When one winds this clock, you are wrapping a cord around the winding drum which in turn wraps around hoists and pull on cast iron levers which tension the cast iron leaf springs. These are mounted or secured to the bottom of the case. The hoists actually are designed to help equalize the power put into to the movement over the period of the wind. This is an ingenious idea and an improvement in the clocks ability to keep more accurate time. Wagon spring powered models incorporate a number of cast iron parts which include a leaf spring, levers and hoists or pulleys. All of this would have been an added cost to the clockmaker and would have made this clock more expensive than the standard coil spring powered model. As a result, this clock probably didn’t sell very well. Today, because of the limited number of clocks made and the survivability of those that did, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find good examples such as this one.

This clock measures approximately 22 inches tall by approximately 11.75 inches wide and was made circa 1846.

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About Birge & Fuller Bristol, Conn.

John Birge (1785 -1862) and Thomas Franklin Fuller (1798 – 1848) shared a successful partnership in Bristol Connecticut from 1844 through 1848. They made many steeple clocks with a large variation of movements. This firm is probably best known for making steeple on steeple clocks powered by wagon spring movements.

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