J. J. & W. Beals / Birge & Fuller Bristol, Connecticut

This is a sweetheart of a clock. It is a very good example of a steeple on steeple clock manufactured by the firm Birge & Fuller of Bristol, Connecticut and retailed by J.J. & W. Beals of Haymarket Square, Boston. This is a highly collectable example due to the fact that it is powered with a wagon spring mechanism. The movement in this clock is brass. It is quite typical in that it is designed to run thirty hours on a full wind and strike the hour on a wire gong. Where it differs is in the manner in which it is powered. (Joseph Ives Patent.) The most common method of powering a Connecticut clock is with a coil spring. When one winds this clock, cords pull on levers which tension the leaf springs located at the bottom of the case. The wagon spring example incorporated several cast iron parts which include a leaf spring, levers and hoists or pulleys. This would have been an added cost to the clockmaker and would have made this clock more expensive than the coil spring model. As a result, this clock probably didn’t sell very well. Today, because of the limited number of clocks made and the survivability of those that did, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find good examples such as this one.

This is an outstanding example of a mahogany veneered steeple on steeple clock that retains a wonderful old finish. The graining pattern in the selections of veneer are very good. One can see them clearly through the mellow patina. The dial is painted on tin and features a Roman numeral time ring. Both doors are fitted with their original painted tablets. The tablets are in wonderful condition. The upper painted tablet features a colorful planter filled with flowers and greens. The lower tablet features a geometric design that centers two doves in the aperture to view the pendulum. The style of these designs is most often associated with the painter, William Fenn. They are original to this clock. The Retailer’s label is applied to the inside of the backboard in the lower section of the case. It is also in excellent condition. This clock measures 24.5 inches tall by approximately 12.5 inches wide.

The firm J. J. & W Beals was in business at the Haymarket street address in 1847 – 1848. This firm was comprised of J. J. and William Beals. They were clock dealers for primarily Connecticut made clocks. This example was made circa 1846.


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