Antique wooden tall clock dial. Riley Whiting of Winchester, Conn. Folk art decoration.

The first group of Connecticut wooden geared factory production clock makers made essentially clock movements that were sold complete with an arched dial, a set of hands, a pendulum and a pair of weights. This was commonly referred to as a clock and were not originally cased. Their cases were often made locally to were the clock were sold. Those examples that were not cased were most likely hung up on the wall exposed to the elements of the household. Elements that included dust and curious hands or paws. These clocks were originally sold by a system of pedlars who set off across the countryside with as many clocks as they could carry. They essentially sold them door to door. Once the pedlars stock ran out, they would often return for additional clocks and start the process again.

This is a very attractive wood clock dial that has lost its mechanism and components. It is colorfully paint decorated. The four spandrel areas features geometric patterns. The framing of this detail is raised on gesso. Floral patterns are positioned at the base of this gilt detail. In the arch is a lovely red breasted bird that is surrounded with additional florals patterns. An additional raised gesso pattern frames the upper perimeter of the arch. The black graphics consisting of Arabic hour numerals and quarter hours, the seconds and calendar subsidiary dials, the time ring and the Makers signature are all in excellent condition.

It is our experience that dials like this are now often used as wall decorations. They fall into a folk art category. We have seen them proudly displayed in kitchens, hallways and bathrooms of a number of homes.

This dial measures approximately 11 & 7/8 inches wide, 16 inches tall and ¾ of an inch deep. It is a better example and priced to sell at $225.

About Riley Whiting of Winsted, Connecticut.

Riley Whiting was born in Torrington, Conn., on January 16, 1785 the son of Christopher and Mary (Wilcox) Whiting. In 1806, he married Urania Hoadley and served his apprenticeship with the Hoadleys in Plymouth, Connecticut making wooden geared clocks. In 1807, Riley, Samuel Whiting and Luther Hoadley formed a partnership and began building short and long pendulum clocks in Winchester. Luther Hoadley died in 1813 and about the same time, Samuel entered the U. S. Army. This left Riley in business all by himself. He continued as sole proprietor and in 1819 moved to the town of Winsted until he died there in 1835. It is thought that he began to manufacture shelf clock movements about 1828. During this later period, Riley is thought to have perfected the eight-day wooden geared movement. After his death, his widow and 15 year old son Riley Jr., continued a limited operation until 1841 when they sold out to William L. Gilbert.


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