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Object Details

Maker
Works by Timothy Chandler (Clockmaker, 1762-1848)
Date
ca. 1800-1810
Geography
United States: New Hampshire: Concord
Culture
North American
Medium
wood; mahogany; mahogany veneer; eastern white pine
Dimensions
Overall: 95 1/4 in x 20 3/4 in x 10 3/8 in; 241.935 cm x 52.705 cm x 26.3525 cm
Provenance
John S. Walton to the Fine Arts Committee through purchase
Inscriptions
Engraved on the dial, "T. CHANDLER/CONCORD, N.H.;" branded on the seat rail, "T. CHANDLER;" engraved on the iron false plate, "James Wilson."
Credit Line
Funds donated by The Wunsch Americana Foundation
Collection
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Accession Number
RR-1969.0049

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Object Essay

Timothy Chandler was one of a small but highly skilled group of clock-makers working in Concord, New Hampshire, during the early part of the 19th century. Despite Concord’s distance from Boston, many similarities exist between the cases of these clocks and those signed Aaron and Simon Willard, suggesting the town’s link with craftsmen who trained with the Willards and later moved to New Hampshire1For example, Abel and Levi Hutchings, brother clockmakers, trained with Simon Willard, working in Roxbury for three years. Timothy Chandler, in turn, probably learned the clockmaking trade from the Hutchings. For more information on the Concord clockmakers, see Donald K. Packard, “When New Hampshire was a Clock-Making Center,” Historical New Hampshire (Hampshire), April 1950, 6, 11–15. or the far-reaching influence of the Willards, who traveled widely in selling their wares.2Simon Willard’s biographer, John Ware Willard, writes (Willard, 52–53), “It was the custom of the clock-makers of old time to spend their winters making clocks, and as soon as the roads were good in the spring, would load these clocks on a wagon and ride around the country peddling their clocks, and at the same time turning an honest penny repairing and regulating such clocks as they found out of order along their route. Simon Willard had his beat along the North Shore, Aaron Willard along the South Shore.”

Major Timothy Chandler made clocks from 1785 until his retirement in 1829. His son Abiel continued the trade until 1846.3Palmer 1950, 167. This is an eight-day clock. The dial is a well-known English model, imported from Birmingham and made by James Wilson.4The author wishes to thank Edward F. LaFond, Jr., for this and other technical information. Chandler used the same dial, featuring the sun and moon with a seascape and schooner, on another clock of a slightly earlier form.5Sack Collection, 40: P5671; now in a private collection.

The elongated door has an inlaid oval with an American eagle emblem, which, except for the number of stripes in the shield, strongly resembles the inlaid eagle on the doors of another object in the Collection, a New York State linen press (see Acc. No. 66.111). It is possible that the cabinetmaker who made this case obtained his inlays in New York or from the same English source as his New York counterpart.

Several clock casemakers have been identified in relation to Concord clocks, including Daniel and Nathaniel Munroe. Four of Chandler’s clocks are signed by Moses Hazen of Weare, New Hampshire.6Parsons manuscript, “Moses Hazen, Cabinetmaker, Weare, N.H.” in DAPC. The cabinetmaker Asa Kimball of Concord, whose label has been found on another Chandler clock, is relatively unknown, although he may have been the Asa Kimball who advertised in The Federal Mirror, April 10, 1798, that “he continues to carry on the Cabinet-Making business, in all its various branches.”7Parsons manuscript, “Asa Kimball, Cabinetmaker, Concord, NH,” in DAPC. Parsons refers to a privately owned maple tall clock, eighty-three inches to the top of the broken arch hood (with rosettes), which has an engraved brass dial with “Tim Chandler/CONCORD” in the arch.

A third cabinetmaker associated with Chandler’s clocks was George W. Rogers, whose original label, “George W. Rogers, Cabinetwork and Chairs, Opposite the Court House, Concord, N.H.,” appears on a birch-inlaid tall clock with works made by Chandler.8Sack Collection, 64: P5671; now in a private collection.

Although several Timothy Chandler tall-case clocks are known, none has as strong a similarity to the one in the Department of State as those with cases by Nathaniel Munroe. One in particular has a very similar case, including handsomely splayed French feet, waist and base panels inlaid with lines of rectangles and ogees, and delicate curved apron.9Ibid., 62: P4193. A second Munroe clock, with a dial inscribed “Nath’l Munroe, Concord” and an interior label of Daniel and Nathaniel Munroe of Concord, has a similarly well-executed case with many of the same elements.10Ibid., 31: P4498; now in a private collection. Advertisement by Kenneth and Paulette Tuttle, Antiques 134 (November 1988), 60.

It is clear that local New Hampshire cabinetmakers were capable of making cases of great beauty and of fine execution; the Department of State’s clock is a virtuoso piece and the finest known example. The quality of the pictorial inlays (the eagle on the door and half-patera on the skirt), the amount and quality of inlaid stringing, and the overall design juxtaposing the oval inlay in the door with the oval inset panel on the base, all point to a superior craftsman whose work rivals that of any cabinetmaker then making clock cases in Boston. 

Page Talbott

Excerpted from Clement E. Conger, et al. Treasures of State: Fine and Decorative Arts in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the U.S. Department of State. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1991.