Samuel Fish. London. A very fine mahogany cased tall clock with a Chinese Chippendale pagoda shaped hood and brass composite signed dial. 221132

Samuel Fish is listed in Brian Loomes’ “Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World” as working London before 1794. By the time Fish had set up shop, the city of London had been the leading center of clockmaking for more that a 100 years. In fact, London was in many respects the center of the world in terms of commerce and influence. As a result, the clocks made there were of the latest styles and often of the best quality. This Chippendale case is a good example of that.

Samuel Fish certainly had access to Thomas Chippendale’s renowned furniture workshop. Chippendale’s business was also located in the Strand. In 1754, Chippendale had written a design book entitled, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Directory. This book enjoyed three separate printings and was sold in regions near and far. As a result, he enjoyed a high level success representing the current British furniture fashions. This book is regarded as the first comprehensive trade catalog of its kind. After his death, his son took over the family business and it remained there until 1813. This case was most likely ordered out of the Chippendale cabinet shop for a very well to do client. At the time, the Pagoda form was all the rage in London tall clock design. Thomas Chippendale and other English cabinetmakers and architects incorporated pagodas, lattice-work, and other elements inspired by Asian design into various furniture forms. This example is complex and successfully designed.

This case exhibits a Chinese Chippendale influence and features wonderful figured mahogany wood selections throughout its construction. In addition, highly figured mahogany veneers are positioned in the Hollywood locations of the form for maximum effect. These areas include the applied base panel and the entire length of the waist door. The mahogany wood features a rich, warm and is pleasing color. The older finish compliments this piece of animated furniture. The case is supported on a nicely formed ogee bracket feet. These are well formed and the lower line transitions into the bottom of the drop aprons on the front and sides of the case. The lower base molding is an interesting form. Here,the cove molding is slightly exaggerated and almost forms a “c.” The base section is nicely grained. An applied panel that features a very similar grain pattern is applied to the front of the base. This rectangular panel is trimmed with an applied molding. The crotch mahogany graining exhibited in the applied panel is excellent and positioned in a horizontal format. The base section transitions up into the waist through a flared molding. The waist is long and is fitted with a large, full size waist door. This door is a tombstone shaped form and it is also trimmed with an applied molding. The front surface is veneered with and outstanding selection of crotch mahogany that is impossible to dismiss. The grain pattern builds upon itself as it raises upwards. The door is hinged and secured with a lock. Open this and one can access the two brass covered lead drive weights and brass covered pendulum bob. The upper waist molding is decorated with skillfully executed cavings. The Gothic style carvings in the cove section emulate weight bering supports for the hood. The bonnet or hood can be described as a break arch form. It is obvious that it is much more complex than that. Above the arch molding is an intricate pagoda style pediment. From the arch. acanthus carvings sweep in and upwards and frame the first series of lattice-work. This interpretation of lattice work is carved and intertwines on itself. The areas that are pierced are backed in red silk. Above this is an additional caving that radiates outwards from the center. It demonstrates flow as it is turned in a downward direction. Above it, is a rectangular shaped box. It sides are decorated with an another interpretation of the lattice design. This box supports an additional series of carvings that are reminiscent of waves. The waves reach out an upwards, cradling the six sided inverted cone. This is fitted with a special carved urn finial. The Gothic style bonnet columns visually support the arched molding. Each is comprised of eight wooden turned columns. They are located on the corners of the bonnet. The sides of the hood are fitted with rectangular shaped opening. Carved frets decorate the openings. These are also backed in silk. The bonnet door is arched and fitted with glass. It opens to access the dial.

This style of brass dial predates the painted dial. Brass dials are very expensive to manufacture. This is due to the fact that brass was the most expensive material used in constructing a clock. This dial form is constructed with a sheet of brass that is decorated with applied cast brass rococo spandrels, applied rings that are treated with a silver wash, an inset subsidiary seconds dial and a calendar aperture with calendar date ring. The four spandrels are a rococo form and are cast in a yellow brass. The lunette is fitted with a lunar calendar. This is decorated with paint. The arch and the half circles are decorated with engravings. The large ring is the time ring. The hours are indicated in large Roman numerals. A closed minute ring separates the hours from the Arabic style five minute makers. The Clockmaker’s signature and working location are engraved in a script letter format across the middle of the dial. A subsidiary seconds dial is located in the traditional location. Interestingly, it features Arabic figures at ten second intervals. Aspects of this dial are treated with a silver wash for contrast.

The movement is constructed in brass having nicely finished cast rectangular shaped brass plates which are supported by ring turned brass posts. The gearing is brass and the pinions are hardened steel. This mechanism is weight driven and designed to run eight-days on a full wind. The winding barrels are grooved. This clock strikes each hour on a bell mounted above the plates. The strike train is located between the plates and is actuated by a rack and snail design. The movement is supported by a seatboard. The pendulum features a metal rod and a brass faced lead bob.

This clock was made circa 1795 and stands approximately 107 inches tall (8 feet 11 inches). At the feet, this clock is 21.5 inches wide and 10.5 inches deep. It is excellent quality.


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