Fine American Federal Period Banjo Clock, New England, 1810-1825

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This is an especially good looking New England Federal Period Banjo clock, Massachusettes or Rhode Island, 1810 - 1825 The eight day weight driven 'Babjo' clock is a truly American clock. Credit for its development has been given to Simon Willard, Roxbury, MA, ca. 1800. Its notable features were a very compact eight day weight driven movement with a long pendulum hung on the front plate of the movement. Brass was a scarce and expensive material in early America and the compact size of banjo clock movements combined with their efficient engineering and relatively straighforward cases made these timepieces relatively affordable to a wider section of the population though clocks were luxury items in the early Federal period. The weight driven banjo clock movement was such an excellent design that it remained basically unchanged from 1800 through the 1840s. The American banjo clock became popular throughout the United States and over time was produced by numbers of clockmakers in New England to be shipped throughout the country. The basic banjo clock movement continued popular during the Victorian period though case designs were modified to the taste of the period. After the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876 federal period case design was brought back for the production of Colonial Revival banjo clocks.

To increase the attractiveness of the early banjo clock reverse painted glass panels framed in mahogany enhanced the  waist and lower sections of most banjo clocks. Specialist painters created these panels and often repeated the same scenes for their customers. Some early mahogany cased banjo clocks are seen with light wood string inlay decoration inspired by the popularity of  similar decoration on early Federal furniture. This neo-classical inlay decoration began to go out of fashion in the 1820s.

This especially attractive banjo clock was built in Massachusetts or Rhode Island in the period 1810 - 1825. It has a fine quality eight day weight driven movement. The great majority of banjo clock movements from this period follow the Willard designs of Roxbury, MA. The clock cases were produced by cabinet makers in the areas where the movements were built and the reverse glass painted tablets were created by specialists in this medium. The glass tablets were delicate and few clocks survive with their original painted glass tablets. The clock cases were also somewhat delicate.

This fine early banjo clock retains its rarely seen original reverse painted glass tablets! This particular classical scene of a young girl playing a lyre has been seen on other banjo clocks of the period and is likely the work of one artist. The panels have had some minor paint touch up over the years as can be seen in our detail pictures.

The mahogany case is finely crafted with a very well formed lower bracket and fine light wood inlay which indicates this was likely a special order case. The clock retains its original acorn finials and is in excellent original condition with original surface and excellent patina. The eight day movement is in excellent original condition and runs well. This clock also retains its original painted iron dial with excellent original painted surface.

This handsome early banjo clock is an exceptional example of its type with rarely seen original reverse painted glass tablets, an inlaid mahogany case, and in excellent original condition.  

Dimensions: overall height 41", case width 10", dial dia. 7 3/4"

Price: $3550.00

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