Oliver Brackett of Vassalboro, Maine. A dwarf clock measuring a mere 29 inches tall.

This fine example can be categorized as a dwarf shelf clock. The simply constructed case is cherry and retains its original finish. The finish has darkened considerably in areas leaving it in a very rustic state. It is a diminutive size measuring approximately 29 inches tall 9.75 inches wide and 4.75 inches deep.

Dwarf clock forms generally fall into two main categories. The metropolitan version is a scaled down version of the standard size tall clock being produced during the period. These would incorporated into their form an arched bonnet or hood and featured a traditional New England style open fretwork decoration. The second form is a bit more conservative. It was generally constructed with a flat cornice molding on top of the bonnet. Often a decorative molding in the shape of an inverted wall bracket was applied to the top of the case. These case forms were constructed in mahogany, cherry and in pine. The pine examples are thought to have been paint decorated originally.

This example stands on feet that are cut out from the base section. The pattern is quite nice featuring a double scroll or drops in the front section. The waist section is fitted with a large rectangular door. This door opens to access the interior of the case. A small circular opening is cut into this door at the height of the pendulum bob. This opening is fitted with glass. The bonnet or hood is fixed solidly to the case. This is the traditional construction of this form. The door features a square opening that is fitted with glass. This door opens to allow one access to the dial. This clock never had any decorative elements applied to the top of the case. Access to the movement is from the back. The backboard of this clock removable.

The dial is iron and painted decorated. It measures approximately 7.25 inches across. The Roman style hour figures are displayed in a heavy hand. The time is indicated by two very nicely filed steel hands. The four spandrel areas are painted a deep blue color. This dial is signed by the clockmaker in the traditional location, “O. Brackett / Vassalboro.”

The weight driven movement is of good quality. It is designed to run for an eight-day duration on a full wind. This movement is typical of the Rogers school of clockmaking in terms of it’s construction. The movement plates are not brass. They are constructed in iron and feature brass bushings. It is thought that this was done in an attempt to conserve the use of brass which was an expensive material to work with.

This clock was made circa 1815. It is inventory Number UU-50.

A related example can be found on page 22 of Little By Little Six Decades of Collecting American Decorative Arts by Nina Fletcher Little.

About Oliver Brackett of Vassalboro, Maine.

Oliver Brackett was born in Limington, Maine on June 18, 1800. He was the son of Rueben and Jane (McArthur) Brackett and the younger brother of Reuben. Rueben was also a clockmaker. The Bracketts are members of a very important Maine family of American Clockmakers. They were trained in what has become the Rogers school. They were Quakers that lived in the Berwick area and built a fair number of clocks as a group. Paul Rogers, born in 1752 is thought to have trained his son Abner 1777 -1809), John Taber (1796-1859), Rueben and Oliver, and Humphrey Pike (1808-1864) all come from this school. Most of these men were Quakes or more correctly below the the Society of Friends. This is a Quaker Sect known for their independence and devotion to hard work. Oliver moved to the town of Vassalboro shortly before 1820 and is listed as a clockmaker. Vassalboro is located approximately 15 miles North Augusta on the Kennebec River. He and Rueben moved to Lynn, Massachusetts to work in the rubber works. In 1832, Oliver married Mary Chase Purinton of that town. Soon he moved to Transit, Ohio and died there on April 18, 1869.

Oliver is known to have made wall timepieces or banjo clocks and shelf clocks.


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