David Williams of Newport, Rhode Island. An exceptional inlaid mahogany tall case clock.

This fine cross banded and finely inlaid mahogany case tall clock was made by David Williams of Newport, Rhode Island. Please note the exceptional woods used in the construction of this wonderful example. It is also worth pointing out the complexity of the line inlay patterns.

This very attractive case is constructed in mahogany, mahogany veneers, rosewood and New England white pine is used as a secondary wood. It retains an older finish that has nicely mellowed over the years and exhibits a wonderful patina. The case stands on four nicely shaped ogee bracket feet. These transition into a double stepped molding that is applied to the bottom of the clock. The base section is trimmed with a barber pole line inlay around its perimeter. The front panel is decorated with a cross banded border. This is trimmed along the interior edge with an intricate line inlay pattern. Together, this forms a frames around a mahogany panel that features a figured crotch pattern. The waist section is fitted with a long rectangular waist door. This door is also decorated with a crotch veneer and a thin line inlay pattern or framing. This line pattern is very interesting. It is composed of arrow figures laid out in a head to toe pattern. I can only imagine that this detail would require a lot of skill to produce and would be quite time consuming to manufacture. An applied molding is fitted around the perimeter of this door. The sides of the waist are fitted with brass stop fluted quarter columns that terminate in brass quarter capitals. This detail visually sits on veneered blocks that are trimmed with line inlay. The bonnet or hood is fitted with a traditional New England fretwork pattern. This is supported by three fluted finial plinths. Each of these plinths are capped with wood and are fitted with a brass ball and spike finial. Brass stop fluted bonnet columns ending in brass capitals flank the hood door. This door is veneered with richly grained mahogany. It is also line inlaid. The door opening is fitted with glass and opens to access the colorfully paint decorated dial.

This iron dial is skillfully paint decorated and features traditional themes for this period. The four spandrel areas are decorated with stylized fans. In the arch, one will find an urn surrounded with florals. The time track is formatted in a traditional manner. The hours are displayed in Roman numerals. The five minute markers are indicated in an Arabic style. This dial also displays the seconds and the date of the month. The maker’s signature and working location are located just below the calendar aperture. This information is signed in large block lettering.

The movement is brass, eight-day duration and of good quality. It is weight driven and features a rack and snail strike system and a recoil escapement. It is designed to run for eight days on a full wind and strikes each hour on a bell.

This case measures approximately 93 inches tall to the top of the center brass finial and was made circa 1817.

The interior of the case has the following chalk inscriptions. The first of note reads, “T. G. Daggett / March / 19-1842 / 34 Point Street / Providence, RI.” Point Street is now located in what is called the Jewelry District of Providence on 1A. Daggett is listed as a clockmaker, watchmaker and retailer. (See Foley) The “No. 2” is also written inside the case.

About David Williams of Newport and Providence, Rhode Island. Clockmaker, watchmaker, silversmith and jeweler.

David Williams was born in Rochester, Massachusetts on March 29, 1769. His parents were John Williams (b. 1731- ) and Mary (Peckham) Williams of Middletown, RI (b. 1733-). David was a Quaker. It is not clear who trained David as a clockmaker. It is thought that he was at work in Newport by 1800. His shop was located on the corner of Duke and Queen Streets. In 1811, he moved his shop on the north side of Parade. This location was ten doors down above his old stand. This shop was most recently occupied by Zenas Fearing. In 1818, he moved again to 56 Broad Street. All the while, he must have had a retail outlet in the city of Providence. He was one of, if not the most prolific Clockmakers in Rhode Island. We have owned many tall clocks, Massachusetts Shelf clocks and other banjo clocks in the recent past. It is interesting to note that we know who made the banjo clock cases for Williams. A probate court record exists that indicates that John Young performed this service. David Williams died in Newport on June 29,1823 at the age of 54.


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