Daniel Burnap of East Windsor, Connecticut. An important tall case clock.

This is an important cherry case tall clock made by Daniel Burnap of East Windsor, Connecticut.

This is a very unusual cherry case that retains an older finish. It is closely related to a group of cases that are thought to have been made by Timothy and Samuel Loomis. Both cabinetmakers worked in Windsor. This case is not your standard form. It has more of a furniture appeal due to the boldly shape of the moldings and other decorative elements. This case stands on an applied bracket base molding which rests flat to the floor. This molding is applied directly to the base panel and is reminiscent of an early pre-Revolutionary form. The waist section is quite long. It is fitted a tombstone shaped door. This door is very narrow and was never fitted with a lock. This is flanked on both sides by inset spiral turned columns which are reminiscent of strands of rope. They are fully formed and slightly trimmed in order to fit into the sides of the case. These areas are fitted with a cock-beaded housing or framing. This design is thought to be unique to this region. The bonnet is a swan’s neck pediment form. The nicely formed moldings terminate in spiral carved rosettes. There are four fluted bonnet columns which visually support the arch. Two flank the bonnet door which is an arched form and fitted with glass. Three turned wooden finials surmount this case. Daniel Burnap’s dials were of unusually fine workmanship. He was a skillful engraver and was responsible for teaching others the trade. This is an excellent representation of his work. This brass dial retains an old silver wash. The time ring is formatted with Roman style numeral hour figures and Arabic style five minute markers. A subsidiary seconds dial is inset and positioned below the hour numeral twelve. The date of the month aperture is of the traditional form. It is positioned above the numeral six. This dial is signed by the Makers in the arch. It reads “ Dan’ll Burnap / East Windsor.” The movement is brass and designed to run eight-day on a full wind. It features the traditionally shaped pillars or posts. This clock is designed to strike the hour on a cast iron bell. It is excellent quality.

This clock was made circa 1785 and stands 7 feet 4 inches tall to the top of the center finial.

About Daniel Burnap of East Windsor, Andover, and Coventry, Connecticut. A clockmaker, silversmith, engraver, and instrumentmaker.

Daniel Burnap was the son of Captain Abraham and Susan (Wright) Burnap. He was born in Coventry (now Andover), Connecticut, on November 1, 1759. Burnap is listed in numerous clock reference materials as an apprentice of Thomas Harland’s. Harland was a very talented English-born clockmaker who settled in the village of Norwich in 1773. It is now thought that Burnap arrived at Harland’s door in 1774 with a fair amount of clock training already learned. The relatively short period of time Burnap stayed in Norwich would not have been long enough to learn the complete art of clockmaking. We speculate that Burnap may have learned the skills of engraving, silversmithing, and musical tall clock manufacturing at Harland’s shop. The mystery remains, who provided the groundwork of knowledge to Burnap before he trained with Harland? Burnap settled in the town of East Windsor sometime before 1775 and was working as a journeyman. By 1776, he had built the homestead located a few rods north of Bissell’s Tavern in East Windsor. Soon, Burnap was active making clocks and training apprentices of his own. His most well-known apprentice is Eli Terry, who became Connecticut’s most famous clockmaker. Terry was a pioneer in the development of mass-production techniques in this country. He is credited with being the first person in America to manufacture goods, or more specifically clocks, that had interchangeable parts. Other apprentices that Burnap trained include Daniel Kellogg, Harvey Sadd, Abel Bliss, Lewis Curtis, Nathaniel Olmsted, Levi Pitkin, Flavel Bingham, Ela Burnap, Thomas Lyman, and Daniel Porter. Interestingly, we owned a Burnap tall clock movement engraved with Daniel Porter’s name on the front plate. The presence of this engraving suggests that Porter signed the works of the clock while working for Burnap as an apprentice. We have also owned a signed Burnap dial that has evidence of Porter practicing his engraving skills on the back. Burnap’s East Windsor clock cases are somewhat similar. Many of these cases were supplied by the East Windsor cabinetmaker Simeon Loomis. In 1782, Burnap married Deliverance Kingsbury. They did not have any children. In 1795, Daniel began to purchase land in his hometown of Coventry. While Daniel’s land/house was in the town of Coventry, it was also within the borders of the Andover Ecclesiastical Society, which existed as early as 1747 and included parts of Coventry, Hebron, and Lebanon. When Andover became a town in 1848, it simply took the same boundaries as had been defined the society. In 1798, Burnap built a sawmill there, and this became a major source of his income. It appears that he maintained his East Windsor shop for a time while living 20 miles away in Coventry. He did this until 1805, when he closed the East Windsor shop.

Daniel Burnap was an active and respected citizen. He was for many years a Justice of the Peace and held court in a spacious room on the first floor of this house. In his later years, Burnap gave up his shop and fitted up a room in the attic of the house where he could keep busy at the less arduous kinds of work such as engraving and repairing watches. He died in 1838 at the age of seventy-eight, a prosperous and respected citizen.


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