Stephen Taber. New Bedford, Massachusetts. A inlaid mahogany tall clock with lunar dial. BBB-6

This fine clock is wonderfully proportioned, having long slender lines. The inlaid case is constructed in mahogany with white pine secondary woods. The case stands on four nicely shaped or flared French feet. The base is line inlaid along the outer edge, which helps frame an excellent selection of figured mahogany wood. The waist is long and narrow and accentuates the narrow proportions of this case. The sides of the waist are fitted with brass stop fluted quarter columns that terminate in brass quarter capitals. The center of this waist section features a rectangular-shaped waist door that shares the same construction found in the base panel. The banded incorporated in this line design uses a wood called She-oak. This decorative wood is found in numerous Southern Massachusetts cases. The bonnet is the traditional fretwork style and is surmounted by three brass ball and spike finials which are mounted on inlaid plinths. The fully turned bonnet columns are fluted and feature brass stopping. They are mounted in brass capitals and flank the door. This bonnet door is an arched form. It is line inlaid, and the opening is fitted with glass. This door opens to a nicely paint decorated dial.

This painted dial is signed by the Maker, “S. Taber,” above the numeral six on the time track. The spandrel areas are colorfully decorated with floral themes. The arch of the dial features a lunar calendar or moon phase mechanism.

The movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. It is weight-driven or powered and designed to run for an eight-day duration. It will also strike each hour on a cast iron bell. The bell is mounted above the movement on a stand attached to the backplate.

This clock was made circa 1810. Dimensions: 98 inches tall, 20 inches wide, and 10 inches deep.

Inside the case is a note. It Reads, “Biddleford June 21st, 1833. Bought this clock of widow Donnell. Samuel Jordon. June 17th, 185?

Inventory number BBB-6

About Stephen Taber of Achusnet and New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Stephen Taber was born on October 23, 1777 in New Bedford, Massachusetts and died there on September 10th, 1862. His older brother Elnathan, was nine years his senior and had moved North to Roxbury where he served his clockmaking apprenticeship under Simon Willard. Simon considered Elnathan a highly skilled mechanic and his best apprentice. Elnathan remained in Roxbury after his indenture and continue to build clocks for himself and others in the Roxbury group of Clockmakers. It is because of Elnathan’s success, that it is logical to assume that Stephen was also attracted to the clockmaking community in Roxbury. Stephen was trained in Boston by Aaron Willard, Simon’s younger brother. By 1798, Stephen is recorded in the town of Roxbury’s Tax Records as being a resident of Roxbury. This would suggest that he moved to Roxbury to start his apprenticeship some time in 1791-92 at the age of 14. After having served his apprenticeship, he stayed in Roxbury for one year and then returned to New Bedford in 1799. Here he advertised in October of that year that “Stephen Taber, (Late apprentice to Mr. Aaron Willard, Clock-Maker in Boston,) Respectfully informs the public That he carries on the Clock Making Business… at his shop in Union Street…” From this time period, until his death in 1862, it appears that he lived and worked primarily in New Bedford. He is also listed as working in Achushnet for a short period of time. Over the later part of his life the extent of his clockmaking seems to have trickled off as the years passed. This is assumed because he is listed more commonly as a merchant or as a trader by 1810. By 1860, his estate was valued at over $100,000. At the time of his death in 1862, his wealth had almost doubled. His wife Elizabeth, was one of the founding members of Tabor Academy in the town of Marion.

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