Curtiss & Clark Plymouth, Connecticut. Rare miniature shelf clock circa 1824. 222033

The firm of Curtiss (Curtis) & Clark was comprised of Garner Curtis and Virtue Clark and was located in Plymouth, Connecticut. This firm is credited with making a very rare miniature shelf clock that featured the first use of coil springs in America. It was advertised that the springs used in this clock were imported from Geneva since the Americans had yet to develop the technology to produce them. This technology was not developed by E. C. Brewster until about 1838. Interestingly, the springs found in these clocks were actually from France and are signed “J. H. Marchand.” Vitrue’s brother Sylvester was contracted to do the ironwork. An 1824 contract outlines the production of 200 of these clocks. Although the contract was for 200 clocks, it is now believed that approximately only 100 of them were ever produced, and far fewer have survived. The Curtiss and Clark miniatures are numbered. The numbers can be found in several locations, including the top of the seatboard, edge of the seatboard, and top edge of the door. No numbers above 100 have been recorded to date.

Charles Platt was contracted to manufacture these highly sophisticated empire-style mahogany cases. This clock is only 23 inches tall, 14 inches wide, and 4 inches deep. It is elevated on feet. The front feet are intricately carved in the form of animal paws. The rear two feet are simply turned. The columns that flank the door are fully formed and decorated with carvings. The door is divided into two sections. The lower section is fitted with a paint-decorated tablet. This tablet is decorated from the back and features numerous Masonic themes. This glass is outstanding. The upper section of the door is fitted with clear glass that protects the dial.

The heavy sheet iron dial is also colorfully paint decorated. It is a Boston product most likely painted by Samuel Curtis Jr. The four spandrel areas are fully decorated with paint. Peaches are the main theme. They are positioned on a field of green color. Gilt patterns frame the spandrels. Roman-style numerals mark the hours. A subsidiary seconds dial is located below the hour XII. This dial is wonderfully signed. The signature reads “Curtis & Clark / Plymouth / Conn.” Steels formed hands display the time.

The movement is reminiscent of a Salem Bridge design, except that it is spring-powered. The two-train movement is brass, eight-day duration, and is of good quality. Four turned pillars or posts support the two large brass rectangular-shaped solid plates. These are beautifully finished. They support the hardened steel shafts, the polished steel pinions, and the brass gearing. The springs are totally enclosed in brass barrels. Heavy ratchets and dogs are located on the rear of the backplate. A star wheel is used in the stop-work design. The escapement is a recoil. The strike train features a rack and snail, and as a result, it will strike each hour on the hour. This is done on a cast iron bell which is mounted above the movement.

This case also retains the Clockmaker’s label, which was printed by P.B. Goodsell in Hartford. This printed label reads: “EIGHT DAY BRASS / CLOCKS, / MADE BY / CURTISS & CLARK / PLYMOUTH, CON. / This Clock combines advantages over any other Clock made in this country, for convenience. It is made of the best materials, the springs imported from Geneva. All the directions necessary for this Clock are, when the Clock is moved, take off the pendulum ball, and tie down the rod; when set up, set it in a perpendicular position, in order to its having an equal beat.”

222032.

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