Daniel Porter of Williamstown, Massachusetts. An inlaid cherry case tall clock.

This is a nicely proportioned and wonderfully inlaid cherry case tall clock. It stands on four nicely formed ogee bracket feet. The base section features an inlaid circular fan that is centered in the front panel. The perimeter of the base is framed by a thin line inlaid frame that incorporates distinctively formed quarter fans in each of the four corners. The long waist section is fitted with a tombstone shaped waist door that is trimmed with a molded edge. This door is also decoratively inlaid. Quarter fans are located at the bottom of the door. An inlaid oval or full patera is centered in this panel. In the arch is a half fan. All of this inlay work is framed by a line inlay pattern that conforms to the shape of this door. The frame that supports the waist door is fitted with fluted quarter columns. These terminate in turned wooden quarter capitals. Additional inlays, in the form of very usual half fans at the lower waist molding and a chevron pattern positioned above each column are also displayed in this waist section. The bonnet features a swan’s neck pediment top. A nicely shaped molding follows the contour of this design. Additional chevron patterns are displayed under each finial and inlaid pin wheels are at the terminus of the arches. Two fully turned and fluted bonnet columns flank the arched glazed door which opens to allow one access to the colorfully painted iron dial.

The iron dial is paint decorated and is signed by the Maker. It features intricate floral themes are raised up on applied gesso work and then highlighted in gilt paint. A colorfully painted floral decoration is displayed in the arch. This painted dial was manufactured in America. It is not an import. The dial is boldly signed by the clockmaker “Daniel Porter.” It features a time ring that is formatted with Roman style hour numerals, dotted minutes with Arabic markers placed at each five minute location above the hours. A subsidiary seconds and calendar dial are located in their traditional position with in the time ring. The time is displayed or indicated by the original Chippendale steel hands and seconds bit.

The time and strike movement is of good quality and is designed to run eight days on a full wind and to strike each hour on a cast iron bell mounted above the plates. It is weight driven or weight powered. One can see the influence of Porter’s master, Daniel Burnap in the shaping of the posts. Please note the shape of the four movement posts and the manner in which the seat board hooks are secure the movement to the wooden platform. Also note that the winding barrels are grooved.

This clock was made circa 1800. It stands approximately 7 feet 2.5 inches tall or 86.25 inches tall overall.

About Daniel Porter of Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Daniel Porter was born on July 20, 1775 in East Hartford, Connecticut. His parents were James Porter Jr., and Sarah (Porter) Porter. His father died when he was just two years old. It appears that Ezekiel Loomis was appointed to be his Guardian. Loomis bound young Daniel to apprentice with the Windsor, Connecticut Clockmaker Daniel Burnap. Burnap was known to have great skill as a clockmaker and as an engraver. It is thought that he engraved numerous dials for other clockmakers in the region. Burnap is said to have also trained at least ten others who made clocks. The most famous of which was Eli Terry. Daniel Porter arrived at Burnap’s shop on July 20th, 1792 when he was 17 years old and stayed there until he was 21. His indenture survives which was signed in 1793. It states that he Porter agreed, in return for the training in the art of clockmaking, silversmithing and watch repairing that he would not to commit fornication, marry, haunt taverns, play cards, play the horses, etc. Burnap would also provide him with “meat, drink washing, lodging and mending of clothes…” The fact that an indenture was drawn up suggests that Loomis must have been in debt to Burnap and offered the young man in order to make some level of restitution.

Once a freeman, Daniel first moves from Windsor, Connecticut to Topsfield, Massachusetts. Here he is recorded as working as a silversmith. He then moves to Stockbridge and is listed there as a silversmith and as a clockmaker. On February 14, 1799, Daniel purchased a house and a lot on Main Street in Williamstown. This was located 10 rods or approximately 160 feet west of a well with a pump in it, and a few rods west of Williams College. In 1801, Daniel married Polly Badger of Salem, Conn. Together, they had two children. The most famous of which was his son Royal Loomis Porter. Royal was born February 24, 1801 and died in Charleston, SC on June 13, 1844. He was a graduate of Williams College in 1823 and worked as an editor and proprietor of “The American Traveller.” He also served in the Massachusetts Legislature. Daniel died at the young age of 35 on November 6, 1809. His nephew Eli married his widow and took charge of the family. Eli continued to work in the clock trades for several years.

We have sold a fair number of tall case clocks made by this Maker. Many of which exhibited wonderfully made and inlaid cherry cases. You can find examples of his work in the collections of the following institutions. Historic Deerfield has an a typical cherry cased example. Their clock case lacks inlay and features a hood with fretwork. The Bennington Museum in Bennington, VT has a very nice formal example. It features an inlaid case that is somewhat reserved as compared to other examples known. A tall clock with a musical movement is also known as well as a surveyors compass made by him.


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