A & C Edwards of Ashby, Massachusetts. No. 190. Tall case clock. BBB-3

This is a special example. Very few brass dial wooden gear clocks were made. Finding one in the marketplace today is a real treat. This numbered 190 example was made in the first third of their total output together.

This stately proportioned case is constructed in cherry and retains an older if not an original surface. This surface is consistent throughout the case construction and shows some areas of light crazing. The case is supported by an applied molding that rests flat to the floor. This molding may be a early addition or restoration to this case. If so, it is evident that it was done many years ago. The waist section is long and narrow. The length of the waist adds to the overall excellent proportions of this fine example. A large tombstone shaped waist door is centered here. This door is decorated with a carved fan in the arch. This a very unusual detail for a wooden geared clock to have. It is quite successful in adding to the overall appearance of the case design. Open this door and one would have access to the two drive tin can weights and the pendulum bob and rating nut. This interior would need to be accessed daily in order to wind the clock. This is done by pulling on the cord that raises the corresponding weight. The molded arched bonnet features a pierced and open fret work pattern. The design is quite intricate and fancy. Three fluted chimneys or finial plinths support the three decoratively turned wooden finials. These are treated in a gilded finish. The bonnet door is an arched form and is fitted with glass. Fully turned bonnet columns flank this door. These are nicely shaped and are free standing. These visually support the arched bonnet molding. The bonnet door is hinged and opens to access the dial.

This arched dial is interestingly constructed. A very thin piece of tin has been hammered flat by hand and treated with a gilt wash. This may have been done to simulate the look of brass which would have been and expensive material to use and very difficult to obtain in a rural village such as Ashby. Two wooden batons are fastened to the back of the tin sheet in order to keep it somewhat flat and straight. These wooden batons are also used to secure the movement to the dial via four dial feet. There are a total of six cast pewter spandrels on this dial. The lower four frame the applied pewter time ring. This time ring is presented in a traditional format. It is engraved with Arabic numerals to indicate the five minute markers. The minute ring is closed. Large Roman style hour numerals are positioned inside this minute ring. The upper two spandrels that frame the engraved name boss are very interesting. They feature a design that depicts a skeletal figure. Their significance is unknown to me. They frame the name engraved boss. It is engraved with the Maker’s name, working location and production number. It reads, “A. &. C. EDWARDS.- / ASHBY.- / No 190.-” The two hands that indicated the time are pewter and are a traditional form for this partnership. This dial also displays the calendar date in a small square window positioned above the hour numeral VI.

The wooden geared movement is the construction one expects from this clockmaking school having one early feature or variation. Early Ashby movement are wound by pulling a rope that is a set length. The drive side is connected to a tin can weight. The opposite end of the rope is counter weighted in an attempt to keep it true. Latter examples feature winding barrels that divided and require two strings. Each is secured to its own side of the barrel. As you pull on the one side to ind the clock, the opposite side winds up the additional string. This set of works features two cherry plates that frame the movement. Five turn posts secure them in place. The gearing, cut from wood is robust and is more substantial to the gearing designs being produced in Connecticut at this time. This wooden geared set of works is set up with a count wheel striking system that will strike each hour on a cast iron bell. The count wheel is located on the outside of the movement on the back plate. The bell is fitted to the top of the movement on a stand. It is designed to run 30 hours on a full wind. This means one needs to wind this clock daily. This is the perfect daily activity for the individual that loves routines.

This clock was made circa 1794. The overall height of this example is 7 feet 9.5 inches tall. This clock is Inventory number BBB-3.

About Abraham & Calvin Edwards of Ashby, Massachusetts.

Abraham Edwards is believed to have been born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1761. His younger brother Calvin was born two years later in 1763. Both were the sons of Samuel Edwards and Huldah Easterbrook of Concord. The family moved from Concord to Ashby, Massachusetts sometime in 1777. Ashby was then and still is today a small village located in Massachusetts on the New Hampshire boarder due North of Worcester. Both Abraham and Calvin were hard workers and owned everything in common including several pieces of land in the town of Ashby. They entered a partnership in 1792 and made wooden gear clocks. These clocks are signed on their dials A & C Edwards. This partnership lasts approximately four short years before Calvin’s death at the age of 33. While alive, the partnership appears to have produced in excess of 530 plus clocks. Often times the production number is listed at greater than 600, but the highest number that I have personally seen recorded is in the upper 530’s. It is assumed that all the clocks made after the partnership ended are signed by Abraham only. Of which, many such examples have been found. Early examples of the A&C partnership features composite metal dials. The later examples, sometime after the number 211, feature the use of a painted wooden dial. Abraham and Calvin were responsible for training other clockmakers. Some of which include Abraham’s son John, Calvin’s sons Calvin Jr. and Samuel, Alexander, Jacob and Philander Jacob Willard of Ashburnham, Wendell and his brother Whittear Perkins and possibly John Barker of Worcester. This list of names is still growing.

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