Stephen Sibley, Great Barrington, Massachusetts. A cherry case tall clock. Long, tall and slender.

This fine cherry case tall clock very narrow proportions and stands just over eight feet tall. The cherrywood selected for this case exhibits a good grain pattern and a warm color. Cherry is traditionally a straight grained wood. To find it with this much figure is somewhat unusual. This example stands up off the floor on four applied ogee bracket feet. These are applied to the bottom of a double stepped base molding. The grain in the base panel is positioned in a horizontal format. The waist section is long and narrow. A long rectangular shaped waist door provides access into the interior of the case. Open this door and one will find the two drive weights and pendulum. This door is also trimmed with a simple delicate edge. The inset quarter columns positioned on the front corners of the waist are smoothly turned. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet door is an arched form and is fitted with glass. Fully turned and slightly shaped bonnet columns are secured at the four corners of the hood. Windows or tombstones shaped sidelights are incorporated into the sides of this bonnet. A traditional New England style fretwork is fitted to the top of the hood. This is anchored by three chimney plinths. Each of these supports a brass ball and spiked finial.

This engraved brass dial exhibits a high level of skill and fine workmanship. The style of the engraving differs from the style that was being produce in Windsor, Connecticut. It is less complicated and more free flowing. In the arch of the dial, around the name boss are two large full bodied birds. One can guess their symbolism. Perhaps they are doves? The time ring is formatted with Roman numeral hour markers and Arabic style five minute markers. A subsidiary seconds dial is inset and positioned below the hour numeral XII. It is interesting to note that this subsidiary seconds dial lacks numerical seconds divisions of 10 or 15 second increments. Other Sibley clocks are also formatted this way. The date of the month aperture is long and narrow and of a non-traditional form. This is positioned above the hour numeral VI. This dial is signed by the Maker in the arch. It reads, “Stephen Sibley / Gt. Barrington.”

The movement is brass and designed to run eight-days on a full wind. The plates are supported by four shaped pillars or posts that are associated with the Harland / Burnap school of clockmaking. In fact, they are the latter Burnap style having a center groove to accept the seat-board hooks. This clock is designed to strike the hour on a large cast iron bell that is mounted above the movement on a stand. The winding drums are grooved in order to accept the weight cord in an orderly fashion. The strike train is a rack and snail design. This movement is good quality.

This clock stands approximately 8 feet 1.5 inches tall to the top of the center finial. It is 20.75 inches wide and 10.25 inches deep at the upper bonnet molding. It was made circa 1790.

About Stephen Sibley of Sutton, Norwich, Great Barrington, West Stockbridge, Massachusetts and Grafton Ohio.

Stephen Sibley was born on November 10th, 1759 in Sutton, Massachusetts. His father was Col. Timothy Sibley, who served in the revolutionary war and his mother was Anne Waite. Stephen was one of fifteen children and served as a private in the revolutionary war. It is thought that Stephen was trained as a clockmaker by his older brother Timothy Sibley Jr. Timothy was a clockmaker and a silversmith and is recorded as having been trained in Grafton by the Willards. Stephen lived for a short time in Norwich, Connecticut and at the time was listed as a goldsmith. About 1782, he moved to Great Barrington, MA where is older brother John was a physician. It is recorded in the History of Great Barrington: (Berkshire County,) Massachusetts that Stephen was a brasier and a clockmaker. In 1785, his shop was located at the north-east corner of the new Town Hall ground — the corner of Main and Castle Streets. Here he also married Jemima Hopkins of Great Barrington and soon moved to West Stockbridge. Together they had 6 children. In 1795 when he advertised for an apprentice clockmaker. In 1816, the Sibley family moved to Grafton, Ohio. Stephen died there on April 21, 1829. A total of fourteen tall clocks are known and have been recorded. A signed example is currently in the Historic – Deerfield collection. It features a cherry case and an engraved brass dial that is signed by the Maker. The place location being Sutton, Mass. This suggests that it was made circa 1783. A signed tall clock is located in the Great Barrington Historical Society. Another can be referenced in Brooks Palmer’s book, The Book of American Clocks. It states that a tall clock made by Stephen Sibley in 1816 is in the Lenox, MA Library.


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