Daniel Burnap of East Windsor, Connecticut Musical tall clock. Case attributed to Elipalet Chapin or Simeon Loomis.

This is a very important Chippendale cherry case tall clock. The engraved sheet brass dial is signed by the clockmaker Daniel Burnap of East Windsor, Connecticut. It features a musical movement that plays one of six tunes. American made musical tall clocks are considered rare. Currently less than eighty examples are known. They are prized by collectors and institutions.

This fine cherry case retains a pleasing old dry finish. It stands on four dramatically flared ogee bracket feet that are applied to the lower base molding. This molding is a double step form and is attach to the base. The base transitions to the waist with a large cove waist molding. The waist section is proportionally long. It is fitted with a shaped door that is trimmed with a molded edge. A lock keeps this door secure and a brass escutcheon frames the key hole. Open this door and one will gain access to the pendulum which is comprised of an original steel rod and brass faced bob. Three cast iron drive weights are also accessible in the waist of the case. The transition to the pagoda style hood is through the use of a large cove molding. Fluted columns that terminate in turned wooden capitals visually support the molded arch molding of the bonnet. These are also carved in a twisted pattern. Above this arch molding rests the pagoda top that is decorated with a pierced an open fret work pattern, three tall reeded finial plinths and turned wooden urn-and-spire finials. The bonnet door is an arched form and fitted with glass. It opens to access the engraved brass dial.

This clock is nearly identical to the example in the collection of Historic Deerfield. That case is attributed to the shop of Eliphalet Chapin. Burnap and Chapin were neighbors for over a decade and Burnap's bookkeeping indicates that he made payments to Chapin and Chapin's apprentices, Simeon Loomis and Jonathan Birge. See "Connecticut Valley Furniture"; Kugelman and Lionnetti, page 172-175.

Burnap’s dials are of unusually fine workmanship. He was a skillful engraver and this is a fine representation of his work. 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. The date of the month aperture is large and of the traditional form. This is positioned above the hour numeral VI. The lunette is engraved with a fan motif with floral decorations. Above this fan detail are the titles of the six tunes played by the clock. The tune names are framed with a scrolling foliate vine. The base of the fan is set with a cut and scrolled brass selector hand which points to the selected tune. The tunes, which have neatly engraved titles, are;
Elliot's Minuit / Hobb or Nobb / Rakes of Rodney / Fr. Kings Minuit / Ovr ye Water to Charley / Maid of ye Mill The dial is framed with floral and vine-work spandrels at each corner. This dial is signed by the Maker in the arch. It reads in flowing calligraphy, " Daniel Burnap / E. Windsor." The dial appears to retain traces of red colored wax (or shellac) in the engraving of the signature, a detail found on some of Burnap's finest clocks.

The three-train musical brass movement bears all the characteristics of Daniel Burnap's work, including the unusual use of a count-wheel strike system and dead-beat escapement. By the time this clock was produced, in the late 18th century, most clockmakers had given up this old-school count-wheel system of striking in favor of the rack and snail system. The Count wheel strike and dead-beat escapement are found on all of Burnap's musical movements and some of Thomas Harland's. The bulbous, cigar shaped pillars that hold the movement plates together are distinctively Harland-Burnap School, as are the sculpted edges of the plates that curve out around the pin barrel. The three movement plates are cast in rose-color brass [or bell metal], which is a distinctive feature. The movement is weight powered and of eight-day duration. It rings the hours on a single bell. It plays six tunes on eleven bells, struck by eleven hammers. The pin barrel extends through the rear plate with an auxiliary half-plate to support the back of the bell rack, pin barrel and fan. This is a hallmark of Thomas Harland's movements and those of his apprentices. The tunes are changed manually by means of a selector hand in the dial arch. It plays the selected song three times through every third hour. The music plays after the hour is struck on the large bell. It is excellent quality.

This clock was made circa 1785 and stands 95 inches (7 feet 11 inches) tall to the top of the center finial. It is 19.75 inches wide and 11 inches deep measured at the hood molding.

About Daniel Burnap of East Windsor, Andover, and Coventry, Connecticut. A clockmaker, silversmith, engraver, and instrumentmaker.

Daniel Burnap was the son of Captain Abraham and Susan (Wright) Burnap. He was born in Coventry (now Andover), Connecticut, on November 1, 1759. Burnap is listed in numerous clock reference materials as an apprentice of Thomas Harland’s. Harland was a very talented English-born clockmaker who settled in the village of Norwich in 1773. It is now thought that Burnap arrived at Harland’s door in 1774 with a fair amount of clock training already learned. The relatively short period of time Burnap stayed in Norwich would not have been long enough to learn the complete art of clockmaking. We speculate that Burnap may have learned the skills of engraving, silversmithing, and musical tall clock manufacturing at Harland’s shop. The mystery remains, who provided the groundwork of knowledge to Burnap before he trained with Harland? Burnap settled in the town of East Windsor sometime before 1775 and was working as a journeyman. By 1776, he had built the homestead located a few rods north of Bissell’s Tavern in East Windsor. Soon, Burnap was active making clocks and training apprentices of his own. His most well-known apprentice is Eli Terry, who became Connecticut’s most famous clockmaker. Terry was a pioneer in the development of mass-production techniques in this country. He is credited with being the first person in America to manufacture goods, or more specifically clocks, that had interchangeable parts. Other apprentices that Burnap trained include Daniel Kellogg, Harvey Sadd, Abel Bliss, Lewis Curtis, Nathaniel Olmsted, Levi Pitkin, Flavel Bingham, Ela Burnap, Thomas Lyman, and Daniel Porter. Interestingly, we owned a Burnap tall clock movement engraved with Daniel Porter’s name on the front plate. The presence of this engraving suggests that Porter signed the works of the clock while working for Burnap as an apprentice. We have also owned a signed Burnap dial that has evidence of Porter practicing his engraving skills on the back. Burnap’s East Windsor clock cases are somewhat similar. Many of these cases were supplied by the East Windsor cabinetmaker Simeon Loomis. In 1782, Burnap married Deliverance Kingsbury. They did not have any children. In 1795, Daniel began to purchase land in his hometown of Coventry. While Daniel’s land/house was in the town of Coventry, it was also within the borders of the Andover Ecclesiastical Society, which existed as early as 1747 and included parts of Coventry, Hebron, and Lebanon. When Andover became a town in 1848, it simply took the same boundaries as had been defined the society. In 1798, Burnap built a sawmill there, and this became a major source of his income. It appears that he maintained his East Windsor shop for a time while living 20 miles away in Coventry. He did this until 1805, when he closed the East Windsor shop.

Daniel Burnap was an active and respected citizen. He was for many years a Justice of the Peace and held court in a spacious room on the first floor of this house. In his later years, Burnap gave up his shop and fitted up a room in the attic of the house where he could keep busy at the less arduous kinds of work such as engraving and repairing watches. He died in 1838 at the age of seventy-eight, a prosperous and respected citizen.


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