James Collins of Goffstown, New Hampshire.

This is a rare New Hampshire striking banjo clock made by James Collins of Goffstown, New Hampshire. Full striking banjo clocks are very difficult to find. This is probably due to the fact that one they would have been much more expensive that the timepiece versions and two, they required an additional weight to power the strike train. This made the clock very heavy and would be subset able to falling off the wall if not secured properly.

Today, we see very few of these on an annual basis in the marketplace. It is unusual in its’ form, its’ oversized case and its’ construction. This clock measures approximately 42 inches long from the bottom of the bracket to the top of the center final, 10.5 inches wide across the lower box and has a painted dial that measures 9 inches in diameter. The frames are fitted with rope and are gilded. The gilding is original to this clock. The decorated frames support the decorative tablets. They are painted from the back in good colors. They are also original to this fine example. Unfortunately they are cracked. They have been since professional stabilized and are solid. They are hand painted in excellent colors. The throat features traditional themes. An American eagle is depicted in this location in an unusual position. It is powerful. The lower tablet depicts a lovely river scene. A tower bridge spans the river. The colors are excellent. The case structure is constructed in mahogany and retains an older finish. The sidearms cast cast in brass. They are nicely formed and fitted to the sides of the case. The bezel and finial are also brass. The iron dial is original to this clock. It is painted and features a Roman numeral time ring. The dial is protected by glass that is fitted into the bezel.

The movement is constructed in brass and features a full striking train. This weight driven clock is designed to run eight days on a full wind and strike the hour on the hour. Please note that the plates of this movement feature an unusual shape. Several other movements have been found that share this unusual shape. These clocks have had dials signed by James Collins. Besides the unusual shape of the plates, other characteristics include having plates that are supported by three posts, the bells are mounted at the top of the movement, rack and snail striking and the weights are marked for the appropriate sides of the movements. For a more detailed discussion, please read, New Hampshire Clocks and Clockmakers written by Charles Parson and Paul Foley’s book, Willard’s Patent Timepieces.

This clock was made circa 1820.

About James Collins of Goffstown, New Hampshire.

James Collins is known to be buried in Wolcottville, Indiana. His gravestone is still located there and gives his birth date of August 8th, 1801 and lists his death on December 8th, 1882. James Collins and Bigail (Hale) collins was born in Goffstown, New Hampshire the son of Stephen Collins, James married Lucy Knight of Hancock, New Hampshire. Lucy was a daughter of the Clockmaker Elijah Knight. It is thought that James received some clock training from him. It is also reported that Collins traveled to Ashby, Massachusetts and to Providence, Rhode Island from time to time. One could speculate that he traveled to these towns on clock related business. The town of Ashby was very small and did not have much to offer as a destination other than an interest in the Edward’s and Willard brother’s school of wooden works clock production of tall clocks. In Goffstown, Collins is listed as a “Husbandman, Yeoman, Silversmith, Jeweler, Watchmaker and Clock and Watchmaker in various towns deeds over the years. It appears that Collins left Goffstown in the mid 1840’s after Lucy’s death in 1844. From here he moved to Illinois, possibly Michigan and then to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Very few clocks have been found. We have owned at least three different forms. They include this tall clock, a New Hampshire Mirror clock and recently a full striking banjo clock. The New Hampshire Historical Society has an example of his work in their collection. Charles Parsons, the author of “New Hampshire Clocks & Clockmakers” actually lived in Collins house for a number years.


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