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Priestley covers the 200-year evolution of the gold and silver watch case makers in England. Watch case making was only one of the estimated 100 separate branches of the matchmaking trade at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Materials varied from solid gold or silver to gold-filled or silver-filled; a cheaper rolled gold also was used.
The six appendices detail the registry of the watch cases. The maker’s mark that was punched into the metal on the back helped to establish the guild system in England, which then determined the level of the worker: Masters, Journeymen, and Apprentice.
The end of Eli Terry’s successful and ingenious 30-hour clock with wood movements happened when Chauncey Jerome invented the 30-hour brass movement clock, commonly known as the ogee movement. The 8-day wood movement shelf clock most likely came on the market sometime during this time frame when the industry was moving toward a longer running clock.
Few of the 8-day wood movement clocks exist today. These movements were less reliable than either the 30-hour wood or the 8-day brass. Most likely, no 8-day wood movement shelf clocks were made after about 1842.
Greek architecture, with its pillars and columns, influenced the style of clock cases. The cyma recta cornice, an S-like curve incorporated into a molding so that the concave part projects beyond the convex part, is the classic representation of the Greek style. This column and case design reached its zenith about 1840 to 1860, but the design persisted as late as 1912 in Seth Thomas column and cornice clocks.
Columns became an Empire hallmark in furniture and clock case style. Early Empire style from 1810 to 1825 appeared lighter and more delicate, but furniture made from 1825 to 1840 was larger and appeared heavier. In 1827 or 1828 Elias Ingraham was credited with developing one of the earliest documented forms of a clock case that used the classical Empire style.
Because of the rural character of Maine, which was not conducive to a manufacturing center, clockmaking in Maine during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries never reached the levels achieved in Massachusetts and Connecticut. However, there were some notable clockmakers: Nicholas Blasdel, Paul Rogers, his son Abner Rogers, and his grandson John Taber.
In Part One Katra discusses clockmaking and clockmakers in the Portland area; in Part Two he goes farther south in Maine and into New Hampshire, which included the Quaker Iron Plate clockmaking school. The style of clocks ranged from tallcase to shelf and later long, slender shelf clocks.
Aaron Dodd Crane’s compulsion to invent dominated his life; he received his first patent in 1829 at the age of 25. He partnered with Abraham Spear in 1840 to form the J. R. Mills Company to invent and finance a new concept in clocks: the one-year clock, which would allow a full-year running on one winding. The one-year clock was a success, but sales did not materialize as they had hoped. The Year Clock Company, the successor to J. R. Mills Company, closed its doors in 1848.
In 1850 Crane’s first astronomical timepiece appeared. It is known as the Carosel, taking the name from the smooth rotation of the pendulum around the demure figure of a woman mounted to its black marble base. This sensational clock is generally acknowledged to be one of this country’s most unique and beautiful clocks; it is on display at the Smithsonian.
For the remainder of his life, Crane redirected his energies to his first love of clock mechanisms and to public or turret clocks. He died in 1860 of tuberculosis.
The title summarizes the life of Chauncey Jerome, who learned from the expert clockmaker Eli Terry and then went on to become the largest clockmaking firm in Bristol, CT, and later in the world. Jerome developed the dwarfed tall clock with modified tall clock movement.
After the near bankruptcy in the depression of 1837, Jerome developed the 30-hour brass clock and was granted a patent for it in 1839. The cheaper brass clock made Chauncey a wealthy man because the clocks were a success. The brass clocks could be shipped farther distances and across the ocean to England without affecting the clock parts, unlike wooden clock parts. Later, Jerome designed an 8-day version of this clock.
In 1843 Jerome had four factory buildings in New Haven, CT; unfortunately, almost the entire complex was destroyed by fire on April 23, 1845. This was the beginning of large financial demands on the Jerome Manufacturing Company, which filed for bankruptcy in 1856. Jerome died in April 1868.
American Watchmaking: A Technical History of the American Watch Industry 1850-1930 (NAWCC BULLETIN Supplement No. 14, Spring 1984) [Whole No. 914]. 8-3/4" x 11-1/4" hardcover, 144 pages, and 210 photos and drawings.
A few pioneers established the principles of machine watch manufacture in the first 30 years. There were some failures in this difficult learning stage, but prosperity in the North during the Civil War ushered in a period of expansion. With large numbers of watch manufacturers supplying the overstocked market, competition was fierce; many companies did not survive. During the twentieth century, decline set in. But the Swiss were back. They had been diligently reorganizing their industry, adopting machine manufacture, and learning modern marketing so that they were ready to meet the demands for wristwatches after World War I.
From the earliest clockmakers, Dennison and Howard, the author details the clockmakers and their contributions to the industry. He also includes an appendix, which lists information about American watch-manufacturing companies that existed from 1840 to 1930.
Heman Clark, an apprentice to Eli Terry, is the force behind the Salem Bridge (now Naugatuck, CT) clocks; his high-quality work was compared with the quality of other clockmakers from about 1816 to 1845. Terry sold his patent for a 30-hour brass shelf clock to Clark. Because of the expense involved in making these brass clocks, Clark redesigned the movement as an 8-day clock.
Clark offered two styles of cases: pillar & scroll and four-column. Most Salem Bridge clocks were peddled door to door to surrounding states. Clark should be remembered for the Salem Bridge reliable timekeepers because of their quality, superb design, excellent performance, and long-lasting service.
The Welch, Spring and Company was founded in 1868 by three men: Elisha Niles Welch, the financier; Solomon Crosby Spring, the manager and design engineer, and Benjamin Bennett Lewis, the inventor. At a time when the clock industry was geared only to mass production, these men for a short time were able to bring back quality and craftsmanship to the Bristol, CT, clockmaking industry.
The company produced Lewis’ Perpetual Calendar Clock, the Gale Astronomical Calendar Clock, and the Patti Clock (named for Adelina Patti, an outstanding mistress of the opera of the late nineteenth century). The Patti Clock, with its fancy rosewood case, four column turnings, glass sides, rosettes, and finials, was one of the most collectible and famous parlor clocks ever made. Unfortunately, the company was not profitable because their clocks were underpriced and could not compete with the mass-produced cheaper clocks.
William Claggett built an organ, made and repaired nautical compasses, was an engraver and a printer, but he achieved the status of Master Craftsman as a clockmaker. The Stanton clock in the Redwood Library is his masterpiece, which features the day-of-the-week slot above the numeral VI and the beautiful japanned case.
Clocks before Claggett had only one hand—the hour hand. Claggett changed that and added hour, minute, seconds, day of the week and month hands; some of his clocks gave even more information.
The Gruen Watch Company, founded in 1874, issued a 50th Anniversary Watch in 1924. Their marketing strategy used a booklet titled “The Priceless Possession of a Few.” Each watch came with a signed ownership certificate. The strategy worked, and the watches became a status symbol. Many notable people were proud to own an Anniversary Watch.
Its predecessor, the Verithin Precision Watch, coupled with advertising in national magazines, helped the Gruen Watch Company to flourish, reaching an annual sales volume of 1 million in 1918. In the 1920s the company expanded to railroad watches and through their controlled selective distribution marketing remained strong despite the advent of wristwatches.
The spring-driven clock was developed in the 1840s and 1850s during the Yankee period, which the author calls the 80 years between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. There was a growing demand for smaller and cheaper clocks that could be purchased by families of modest means.
Eli Terry’s weight-driven clock design was the precursor to the spring-driven clock. The advent of the spring movements reduced the weight of the clock and made it more portable. The clockmaking industry grew rapidly to meet the demands of the market. The outstanding example of a spring-driven clock of this time period was Aaron Dodd Crane’s One-Year Clock.
George Graham invented in the early 1700s the classic dead-beat escapement that is found even today in regulator timepieces with high-quality and timekeeping excellence. This escapement can be identified as an example of a four-bar linkage that contains a built-in bit of nastiness known as a slotted-link. Aydlett includes the geometric drawings and formulas to construct a Graham escapement.
The most commonly found materials used in the Graham escapements are the hardened steel for the pallets and the best quality hard brass for the wheel teeth; this combination of hard steel with brass is likely to perform well for a century or two without replacement.
A dogmatic response from a seatmate on a plane flight, who said there never were any Shaker clockmakers, prompted the authors to research the literature to find out if this statement was true. An October 1970 issue of Antiques magazine and the library card catalog at the Shaker Museum in Old Chatham, NY, confirmed that indeed there were Shaker clockmakers. The following were listed: Oliver or Reuben Brackett, Thomas Corbett, Amos Jewett, Granville Merrill, Erastus Rude, Benjamin Youngs, Benjamin Seth Youngs, Isaac Newton Youngs, Calvin Well, and John Winkley.
The “coffin-case” wall timepieces were unique productions. The cabinet and clockmakers were permitted to sign their products. The clock cases were of solid wood, never veneered or inlaid; most were pine stained old red, but a few were cherry, walnut, maple, and oak; sometimes mahogany was used. Most dials were painted wood or zinc. Most Shaker clocks and timepieces were 8-day with brass movements preferred by Benjamin Youngs and Benjamin Seth Youngs and wood movements preferred by Isaac Newton Youngs. Clockmaking, indeed, was indispensable to the Shaker society.
The wooden clock industry developed in Bristol, CT, for the following reasons: Manufacturing was common in the community, water power was readily available for mill sites, traders here had established markets with larger cities, the Farmington Canal enabled transport of raw materials and manufactured goods to and from the New Haven seaport, and many skilled artisans had come to Bristol to join the industry. Documents prove that there were at least 105 clock firms in Bristol from 1810 to 1850.
Eli Terry was the outstanding contributor of clocks with wooden movements, but the 8-day weight brass movement clock appeared in 1830, which revolutionized the industry. Joseph Ives led the way and Chauncey Jerome marketed the Connecticut clocks.
The following family names are key figures in the clockmaking industry that began in Concord, MA, after the Revolutionary War: Mulliken, Munroe, Curtis, Whiting, Dunning, and Dyar. Mulliken was a cabinetmaker who made clock cases. The three Munroe brothers made primarily 8-day clocks with brass works and banjo clocks.
To many collectors a Concord clock is synonymous with the clocks made by Lemuel Curtis. The Curtis Girandol is considered by many to be the most beautiful American clock ever made.
In addition to his furniture, jewelry, publishing, and bowling businesses in Philadelphia, PA, Elmer Dungan was a dedicated clock collector. His daughter Emily’s favorite nursery rhyme was “Dickory dickory dock . . .” (There were several versions, and she had learned this one.) Dungan decided to make a clock for her that would do exactly what the jingle described. His prototype of the Mouse Clock worked perfectly, but Models I-III, manufactured by the New Haven Clock Company in 1909 and 1910, failed to keep accurate time. Model IV, patented September 13, 1910, and manufactured by the Sessions Company, was simpler, more reliable, and less costly to manufacture. Shortly after Dungan received this patent, his business partner Charles Klump died suddenly; he lost interest in clocks after that event. Today the Mouse Clock is prized by novelty clock collectors.
In 1797 the U.S. Patent Office issued the first clock patent to Eli Terry for an equation brass clock; he received a total of eight patents. Terry is credited with making interchangeable parts and gauges, which enabled him to be one of the principal men who created the American factory system of mass production. In 1808 he attempted the “impossible” task of turning out 1,000 clocks a year; he succeeded! In that same year Terry and Seth Thomas partnered to make clocks: Terry built the machinery and made the wooden movements and Thomas built the cases. Later they produced 6,000 clocks a year and then doubled production to 12,000—all built without the use of nails.
Eli Terry invented the patent clock and later the pillar and scroll shelf clock, which sold for $15. Demand for an 8-day shelf clock was met by building a taller clock to have enough drop for the weights to run 8 days. Terry is recognized for bringing the clock into existence and for his graceful and beautiful shelf clock creations.
Daniel Pratt, Junior (he used Junior only to distinguish himself from another Daniel Pratt in Reading, MA) followed in his father’s shoe-manufacturing business, but later he turned from shoes to manufacture clocks. From 1830 to 1860 his hometown of Reading, MA, was becoming industrialized. His overly large mantel clocks with pillars fit nicely with the empire style of furniture.
Pratt used peddlers to market his clocks; this was not a secure financial proposition because of accidents in the transport of the clocks, sickness of the peddlers, and bartering of sick animals (e.g., horses). In 1846 he opened a store in Boston, and from there he traded on the world market, primarily England, India, and South America. By 1849 his son and son-in-law were partners in the clock business. Daniel Pratt died in 1871, a year after he stepped down from the company, but the clock store continued until the death of Daniel Pratt’s grandson in 1916.
P. L. Small in E. Howard: The Man and the Company discusses this nineteenth-century inventor who established the clock- and watch-manufacturing industry in the U.S. Howard was also famous as a scalemaker and served as Deputy Sealer of Weights, Measures, and Balances for Massachusetts for many years. He perfected a method for refining low-grade gold ores, and he manufactured fire engines.
The E. Howard Clock Company, established in 1842, was later located in Waltham, MA. The company’s goal was to make the finest watches in America. It succeeded despite several financial setbacks. The company was bought in 1905 by the Keystone Watch Case Company of Philadelphia, and they continued manufacturing a new line of watches under the name of E. Howard Watch Works.
The first calendar clock in America was invented in Ithaca, NY, and was patented by inventor J. H. Hawes in 1853. By 1875 with 60 employees, the Ithaca Calendar Clock Company was producing 30 clocks a day. Fire destroyed the structure on February 12, 1876, but the company restored the building.
The company prospered and began production of grandfather (tallcase) clocks, offering about 30 styles. However, the passage of the Volstead Act in 1918, which forced brewers and distillers out of business, led to the clock company’s demise because its best customers, who had used these clocks as premiums for their customers, no longer needed the clocks.
John C. Dueber left Germany and came to America with his parents when he was nine years old. Later he was apprenticed to a watchmaker in Cincinnati, OH, for five years. By making wedding bands, he earned some capital, which he used to launch his watch case-making business in 1864.
Pre-Civil War watch companies made both movements and cases, but after the war companies specialized in one or the other. Watch case manufacturers overproduced cases; because of some legal differences and to make peace, Dueber bought the Hampden Watch Company of Springfield, MA, a watch movement company.
The Dueber-Hampden factories attained their peak operation with 3,000 employees, almost evenly divided between men and women, until about the time of Dueber’s death in 1907.
John C. Dueber went into business making watch cases in 1864 in Newport, KY, and later Springfield, MA. Don J. Mozart also first appeared in 1864 in connection with the Mozart Watch Company, which later became the New York Watch Company; this firm failed in 1877. The stockholders reorganized during that year and started the Hampden Watch Company, named for the county in which Springfield, MA, was located. Three prominent personnel were involved in this part of the Dueber-Hampden history and later with the Hamilton watch factory: John C. Perry, an excellent factory manager and watch salesman; Henry J. Cain, renowned watch designer and maker; and Charles D. Rood, outstanding in financial matters.
The Hampden Watch Company bought cases from the Dueber Watch Case and Manufacturing Company and sold movements to Dueber. When Dueber saw the watch company in Springfield, he was impressed and bought controlling interest in the company. Eventually, the company was moved to Canton, OH. (This city had raised $100,000—Dueber’s inducement—to relocate the business.) The economy in Springfield was devastated by this move because Hampden had been the leading industry. It took nearly two years to move the machinery, equipment, and supplies. By the end of the first year of production the Hampden factory, with 1,000 employees, produced 15,000 cases a week and 600 watches daily.
Many precautions were taken to gather the small particles of gold and recycle them to reduce their production costs.
In 1930 the machinery and tools of the Dueber-Hampden company were sold to a Russian firm. Despite some controversy, it seems that there are still watches being produced in Russia.
The Dueber-Hampden watches were guaranteed to be “accurate to the second.” The gold-filled cases were guaranteed for at least 20 years, and replacement was free if the gold wore through to the base metal before this time expired.
The sandglass, the former name of the hourglass, cannot be credited to an exact time or place, but an early story tells of a 12-hour sandglass owned by Charlemagne in 807 A.D. The ancient art of glassmaking came to Venice and later to Germany from the Near East. Glassblowing, essential to the quality of the sandglass, was a highly developed art in Venice in the thirteenth century. Another essential ingredient was high-quality sand that was fine enough to ensure regular flow at the same rate.
Hourglasses were named for the glass-blown objects that were set for a running time of one hour and were used in civil and religious meetings. At sea the hourglass and the 30-minute glass were used to maintain order of duties, and naval actions were noted in terms of “glasses” as entries in log books of the Revolutionary War show. With the advent of clocks and watches, hourglasses became obsolete.
The 30-hour wooden shelf clock movement was his classic design for which he received a patent in 1816. His design was pirated by others; later he designed an 8-day wooden shelf clock. He and his clockmaking partner, Seth Thomas, produced thousands of clocks annually, but the depression of 1837 closed the doors of the Connecticut clock industry, marking the end of the wooden movement shelf clock business.
From about 1500 A.D. the portable timekeeping device known as a watch has existed. Augsburg and Nurnberg were important centers in the watchmaking industry. Peter Henlein, a Nurnberg locksmith, adapted the coil spring to the watch. Early watches were clumsy with cases of gilded brass or bronze and movements of iron.
Making these ornamental watchcocks and bridges was an industry apart from the clock movements industry. By the 1600s the Swiss watch industry was growing rapidly. Women were allowed to work on the balance bridges, hands, fusee chains, and pillars—the parts that required fine piercing and filing. The bridges in the French watches allowed much space for very ornate patterns, which used scrolls, fruit, dragons, strawberry leaves, and sometimes human figures. The watchcock and bridge as part of the watch ended in the nineteenth century.