Silas Parsons cherry case tall clock. Swanzey, New Hampshire. -SOLD-

We have recently owned several tall case clocks that were made by Silas Parsons of Swanzey New Hampshire. All of these have shared a number of construction characteristics that are exhibited in this clock case design and presentation. Some of these features are listed as follows.

Silas Parsons favored a case that is constructed in cherry wood and New England white pine is used for the secondary wood. The vast majority of the cases are built on a smaller scale. Most of which measure less than 7 feet 6 inches tall to the top of the finial. In addition, the proportions are unique. The cases are often shallow from the front plain of the waist to the wall. This example measures a mere 6.5 inches deep. The cases are often raised up on delicate feet. This example stands on four very delicate ogee bracket feet. These are applied to the bottom of the case. The waist sections are typically long and narrow. The sides of this waist section are fitted with inset quarter columns. They are boldly fluted and terminate in brass quarter capitals. The center of the waist section is fitted with a long tombstone shaped door. This door adds a lot to the overall good look of this clock. The bonnet is surmounted with a distinctive fret work pattern which we have seen on other clocks that are signed by this Maker. The three boldly fluted chimney plinths support the three brass ball and spiked finials. The molded arch, which has a very deep profile is supported by two bonnet columns that are also boldly fluted. These columns also flank the arched glazed door.

The dial is painted on iron. The decoration is distinctive and must have been painted by a local artisan. The style of the decoration is less structured and more reserved than the decoration found on production dials. The colors are often muted and the presentation is quite nice. Also note that the spandrel designs do not incorporate a boarder or framing. This clock is signed on the dial by the Clockmaker. The dial is mounted directly to the movement without a false plate.

This movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. It is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is a time and strike design having a rack and snail striking system. 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.

About Silas Parsons of Swanzey, New Hampshire.

Silas Parsons (1773-1859) of Swanzey, New Hampshire. Silas is the son of Aaron Parsons and Damaris (Whitcomb) Parsons. He was born in Swanzey on May 29,1773 and died there on March 15, 1859. Silas married Patience Haskins (Hoskins) the daughter of Silas Haskins of New Salem Massachusetts on March 25th, 1806. She died on February 1, 1865. Together, they had 4 children. Silas jr. was born in 1809, Damaris was born in 1812 and died in 1815 at the age of three, a second Damaris was born in 1817 and Patience born in 1820. It appears that Silas prospered financially. He is credited with donating approximately $20,000 for home and foreign missionaries

Silas is a celebrated clockmaker. A small number of New England case styles have been found and documented. They include tall case clocks, Massachusetts shelf clock and a dwarf clock. A Massachusetts Shelf clock is now in the possession of the Henry Ford museum. It is reported that he made three musical tall clocks as wedding gifts for his three daughters. These played waits on weekdays and hymns on Sunday. One of these clocks is signed on the inside of the case by the cabinetmaker. This inscription reads, “Made by Samuel (?) Sweeny 1811.” So far, all of the tall clock cases I have seen are very similar in design and form. It is logical to assume that Sweeny was Parsons go to cabinetmaker.

The town of Swanzey is composed of a group of hamlets just South of Keene: Swanzey Center, North Swanzey, West Swanzey and East Swanzey. Parsons lived in West Swanzey. His home still stands. 1775 is cut into the chimney, his work shop is now gone.


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