The Atkins Clock Manufacturing Company of Bristol, Connecticut. This very rare 30-day shelf model is called the Gilt Parlor. XX14.

This is a very interesting and rare mantel clock made by the Atkins Clock Manufacturing Company of Bristol, Connecticut. The case appears to be constructed in white pine is architecturally designed. The fancy decorations and various details are formatted in gesso. These surfaces have been gilt painted in a gold foil. This treatment is original to this example and is in my opinion, in excellent original condition for the clock’s age. The minor areas of loss to both the decoration and to the gilding are not significant.

This case sits on a large molding that rests flat on the shelf. The front two corners have been blocked out and the design of the lower moldings nicely conforms to this modified shape. Many of the surfaces are decorated with applied gesso designs that provide this model with a three dimensional presentation. These designs include pendants, leaves, shells ,etc. The front of the case is fitted with two doors. The lower door frames a glass panel through which one can view the brass faced pendulum bob. This door opens to allow one access to the pendulum in order to rate the clock. The upper door is in the form of a brass bezel or ring. This is also fitted with glass. The dial is original to this clock and is in excellent condition. It is somewhat unusual to find an Atkins clock with its original painted dial. Most examples have been repainted due to the poor preparation of the tin when first painted. This tin dial features a traditional Roman numeral time ring. Original steel hands indicate the time.

Inside this case one will find a very unusual movement that was originally designed by Joseph Ives. (These wagon spring movements were categorized by Fred Selchow in an April 1953 NAWCC bulletin. This is referred to as a “Type 3.”) Unfortunately, this is difficult to view due to the design of the case. This movement is powered by 8 leaf or flat springs. These are held or supported by a large and decorative cast iron bracket. This bracket was necessary to prevent the case from breaking apart under the pressure of a fully wound movement. This must have been a major contributing factor to the cost of producing this clock. One can also assume that this movement was much more expensive to build as compared to a more common Connecticut format. The movement is a combination of brass gearing and steel pinions. The plates have been skeletonized. When fully wound, this clock is designed to run 30 days.

This clock measures approximately 18.5 inches tall, 6 inches deep and 12.25 inches wide. This clock was made circa 1856. Originally, these clocks had a value of more than two times the standard parlor example.

Merritt W. Atkins was born in 1804 and died in 1873 at the age of 69. He worked in both Bristol and later Forestville, Connecticut. He was a manufacturer of brass movement clocks and was involved in several firms. The firm of Atkins Clock MF’G Co was formed in October of 1855 by Irenus and George Atkins and six other investors. This venture lasted approximately 15 months before they filed for bankruptcy on January of 1857. If you are interested in this clockmaker or this unusual type of clock, I would recommend that you read “The clocks of Irenus Atkins,” written by Philip C. Gregory and Robert King.

This very clock is one pictured on page 165 in Lester Dworetsky and Robert Dickstein’s “Horology Americana.” A similar example is on display at the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, Connecticut.

About Atkins Clock Company of Bristol and later Forestville, Connecticut.

This firm was established in 1859 to succeed the Atkins Clock Manufacturing Company which went bankrupt in June of 1858. In 1859, 12 employees made approximately 4000 clocks.

Merritt W. Atkins was born in 1804 and died in 1873 at the age of 69. He worked in both Bristol and later Forestville, Connecticut. He was a manufacturer of brass movement clocks and was involved in several firms. Most notably would be the firm of Atkins and Porter. His firm M. W. Atkins spanned the years 1840-1857.

For additional information regarding the Atkins firms, please see The Clocks of Irenus Atkins written by Phil Gregory & Robert King.


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