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  1. #1
    Registered User Jim Burghart's Avatar
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    Default Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas?

    New to the collection. This is my first NH mirror style clock. It has a nice look to it, but the label is damaged. Looks like the first few letters might be Luth or ??th

    It is only 26" tall with an unusual banjo type movement and compound pulleys. The dial is wood, and was poorly repainted. I think it will cleanup well.

    Has anyone seen one like it? Wondering who made it?
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  2. #2
    Registered User Jim DuBois's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas? (By: Jim Burghart)

    Well, the brand Donnell is a good pointer. According to Spittler and Bailey, C.C. Donnell was from Bath Me. late 1700's to 1837. watchmaker and clockmaker, shop on Front Street burned in 1837. Small New Hampshire mirror clock 13"x25" exists with "Donnell" stamped on the backplate. The stamp leaves the background depressed and the letters proud. So, I suspect that is precisely what you have...very uncommon maker in a great small size. The other example runs 4 days....

  3. #3
    Registered User Sooth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas? (By: Jim DuBois)

    There is a Luther Smith who made mirror clocks HOWEVER, the two examples from him that I have (photos) don't match at all, and those two used wheelbarrow movements.

    I went through my entire archive and found no matches for the label (based on the border and the narrow rectangular size). Your mirror clock has turnings that don't match any of my examples (photo archive). None are even close. The nearest match is a rare miniature. You likely have a clock by a fairly rare maker. A lot of these early clocks are unsigned or they have lost their labels. It's entirely possible that the Donnell was added by an owner who knew the name on label before it was lost, but it's also possible that it was an owner's mark.

    According to Jim's info above, the dates make sense. As Jim has pointed out, the size is also rare. Most mirror clocks are closer to 30 x 14. Definitely a very nice find.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas?

    A similar smaller-size Donnell clock is shown in the October Bulletin RAN column, p. 675. Looks like the same banjo-style movement. Also seems to have the same "??th" on a label, which the article suggests may be for "Arthur." May be worth a look.

    Looking again, is Jim's clock the same shown in the article?
    Last edited by Steven Thornberry; 03-01-2017 at 05:51 AM.
    “If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out.” - Oscar Wilde

  5. #5
    Registered User Jim DuBois's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas? (By: Steven Thornberry)

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Thornberry View Post
    A similar smaller-size Donnell clock is shown in the October Bulletin RAN column, p. 675. Looks like the same banjo-style movement. Also seems to have the same "??th" on a label, which the article suggests may be for "Arthur." May be worth a look.

    Looking again, is Jim's clock the same shown in the article?
    Steven, I believe you are correct, it very much appears to be the same clock as shown in the 2000 Bulletin, no. 328, excerpt starting page 671 with clock photos and details on 675 and 676. Thanks for the link, quite helpful.

  6. #6
    Registered User Jim Burghart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas? (By: Jim DuBois)

    Wow! Fantastic bit of research.

    I do think it is the same clock. The crack in he backboard, the white paint and missing bits of it, the label fragment, the hands, they all match. The movement is smaller than a banjo movement and I was assuming it was a 30 hour or a few days tops.

    The article is a great help. The pendulum is missing, and is clearing pictured in the article. This also explains the scallops on the side rails to accommodate a large diameter bob.

    I had gotten focus on looking for New Hampshire makers, and never even considered Maine.

    Thank you all for the great information!

    Jim

  7. #7
    Registered User Jim Burghart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas? (By: Jim Burghart)

    I found an Arthur Donnell in Bath ME born in 1808. The time may be correct?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas? (By: Jim Burghart)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Burghart View Post
    I found an Arthur Donnell in Bath ME born in 1808. The time may be correct?
    Are you speculating that Arthur Donnell may be the manufacturer of the clock? The one I found (here) seems to have been a cooper by trade, though making a clock case of two might not be out of the question. However, I wonder, nonetheless.

    Interesting is that Jim's statement above from Spittlers and Bailey mentions that the name "Donnell" was found on the backplate, presumably of the movement - unless "backplate" was mistakenly written instead of "backboard."
    “If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out.” - Oscar Wilde

  9. #9

    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Burghart View Post
    New to the collection. This is my first NH mirror style clock. It has a nice look to it, but the label is damaged. Looks like the first few letters might be Luth or ??th

    It is only 26" tall with an unusual banjo type movement and compound pulleys. The dial is wood, and was poorly repainted. I think it will cleanup well.

    Has anyone seen one like it? Wondering who made it?
    Interesting clock.

    I remembered first seeing it in the Bulletin (link has already been provided).

    The person whom at that time owned the clock provided the description and pix to Snowden. My experience is that sometimes the descriptions and pix provided were somewhat selective in what they revealed?

    A birth date of 1808 would be rather late?

    I've quickly looked through Charles' Parson's book, "New Hampshire Clocks and Clockmakers". Nothing about this maker.

    I have also quickly looked through Joseph Katra's updated version of "Clockmakers and Clockmaking in Maine: 1770-1900". Nothing.

    On a crazy whim, I even checked Foley's "Willard's Patent Time Pieces" thinking maybe he made a banjo so he may be listed there. Nothing.

    I've found the listing of Donnell in Bailey and Spittler. It would be encouraging if another similar example were known. I guess I don't know for sure that they were referring to another clock? However, if I'm understanding their description correctly, the stamping is on the back plate of the movement rather than the case. Did they see the clock or pix of it? They provide such details as the location of his shop, that it burned down, etc. Surprised that this wasn't in Katra's book.

    Miniature anything is desirable and potentially valuable.

    I have seen some of these miniature mirror clocks pop up at auction. Most have not been right, some may have. Most ignited almost Talmudic debate.

    Here are links to a couple of ENDED auctions:

    https://www.skinnerinc.com/auctions/2981T/lots/1966

    This is the subject clock. May be an oversight, but nothing mentioned about label or maker's stamp which is a bit odd.

    https://www.skinnerinc.com/auctions/2555M/lots/477

    This clock is only 20 inches tall. Metal dial. Obviously some thought it right. It was a nice thing!

    https://www.skinnerinc.com/auctions/2527M/lots/551

    This is a very nice clock bought by the former owner of the subject clock.

    I have seen others as well. I tried to find a few others which have sold at auction and I suspect were spurious but I couldn't find them.

    Your clock may be perfectly fine and the find of the century. A couple of things do give me some pause.

    The use of white paint on the inside. In the description in the RAN article it is said that there is white paint over an original "white wash". I've seen red, an almost chrome yellow and an almost pinkish salmon wash used on the inside of case furniture and clock cases of this period. They are rather lightly applied and do not obscure the underlying wood. I have not seen a white wash nor a more opaque white paint. Why would the original wash not be behind the movement? Guess I can't say right or wrong based upon what I know at this point. However, sometimes paint was used to cover stuff up.

    When labels come off, there is oxidation evidence of where it once was. It may just be the pix, but I don't see that. Does appear to me that "schmutz" has been rubbed into the back board around the label remnants. Why is there no paint around the stamp? Yes, may have been removed to make it more visible. Labels and stamps can be added.

    I have seen wooden dials on mirror clocks especially examples from ME. Bit unusual but known.

    In my experience, most mirror clocks don't typically have a bob separate from the pendulum rod. May be perfectly fine or represent a later repair/modification.

    Have you had the movement out? Is it stamped like the other reported example.

    Split baluster mirrors are quite ubiquitous and made in a variety of sizes. Not worth much as a split baluster mirror (too bad, I like them) but much as a clock. They come in a variety of sizes. I've attached a pic of some about 26-27 inches to shorter (gosh, my home office is a sty). I've seen full size mirror clocks using these and a variety of other styles of period mirrors married to basically a box often made from old wood with a period banjo and pendulum. It would be nice to see pix of the back of the mirror. Any evidence that the door once hung as a mirror? You might see evidence of this on the back of the side rails or the top rail, typically holes indicating use of hanging hardware or to pass a string. I would also examine the door for other evidence of modification.

    Were dovetails used in the construction of the case?

    A clock worth studying and trying to figure out. As I've said, may be the sleeper of the century and quite significant if it can be sorted out.

    RM
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  10. #10
    Registered User George Nelson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas? (By: rmarkowitz1_cee4a1)

    Hi, All,

    Excuse me for jumping in here, as I have no knowledge of clocks like these, nor one in my collection. However, I am finding this discussion fascinating, if even only for all of the things to consider for regarding re-works, alterations and spurious offerings.

    As many of you know, I have been bitten in the sitting apparatus by a pillar and scroll in my collection. Even after all of the learning I've had about that debacle, I would not have questioned the authenticity of the clock in discussion here. Perhaps I'm a bit too trusting, but with many clock prices what they are today (low, low and low), aren't the days of outright forgeries gone? Or, please tell me, am I being totally naive and stupidly trusting here?

    Thoughtfully yours,

    George Nelson

  11. #11

    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas? (By: George Nelson)

    Quote Originally Posted by George Nelson View Post
    Hi, All,

    Excuse me for jumping in here, as I have no knowledge of clocks like these, nor one in my collection. However, I am finding this discussion fascinating, if even only for all of the things to consider for regarding re-works, alterations and spurious offerings.

    As many of you know, I have been bitten in the sitting apparatus by a pillar and scroll in my collection. Even after all of the learning I've had about that debacle, I would not have questioned the authenticity of the clock in discussion here. Perhaps I'm a bit too trusting, but with many clock prices what they are today (low, low and low), aren't the days of outright forgeries gone? Or, please tell me, am I being totally naive and stupidly trusting here?

    Thoughtfully yours,

    George Nelson


    Guess I tend to go to the other extreme?

    I believe in a degree of healthy skepticism.

    Some look at an object and try to justify what's there. Especially with an atypical or unusual object, I want it to prove itself. My experience and what I've seen of that of others it that the first approach often gets you into trouble because its more about the heart than the brain.

    I have screwed the pooch many times and my prognosis is not good. Too much heart for this old stuff and not enough brain.

    RM

  12. #12
    Registered User Jim DuBois's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas? (By: rmarkowitz1_cee4a1)

    I don't really see anything to suggest this NH mirror clock is anything but a period piece. I don't care for a clock case to have a painted interior, but it it not entirely uncommon for mirror clocks to have painted interiors. I have seen several done up in that fashion. Many Ives mirror clocks have painted interiors for example, a bit different genus but still mirror clocks. Of the traditional NH mirror clocks for comparison, here we have a stamped case with a listed makers name done up in a fashion not readily done with any conventional tools, we have a movement that is unlike other banjo movements, or other mirror clocks. or Mass shelf clocks, or other such possible donors, we have unusual hands that fit an unusual sized dial, and it all comes together on an unusual sized mirror. The upper glass looks period, as does the paint on the mirror frame itself. Mirror clocks historically have not been widely "reproduced" for any venue. Banjos (timepieces) are perhaps one of the most widely made up pieces, or mucked about pieces in clock collecting. Not so for mirror clocks. I like this little clock but hate the interior paint......IMHO it is a righteous piece and if Jim doesn't like it I would be happy to give it a home!

  13. #13
    Registered User Jim Burghart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas?

    Thanks you everyone for your input. I really appreciate the information and insights into these clocks.

    A healthy dose of skepticism is always a good idea

    I had some time this morning to take the movement out and look the clock over. I am attaching a number of photos that may help.

    I summarized my thoughts below about the case, movement, dial and hands.

    The case:
    The case is not dovetailed. It looks correct, with no signs of the door having been added. The hinges look like they have always been there. The upper glass is old, but touched up and I would say original. The mirror is old, but is a later replacement. Both glasses are held in with wood blocks, and there is no evidence of putty being removed.
    The paint is not really white, but an off white greenish color. It was definitely applied around the movement?
    The paint is applied behind the label, but not much oxidation behind it. Could it have been removed when the painted was applied and put back?

    The movement:
    It is unusual, with no makers mark on the back.
    The size is small, only 3 1/2" tall.
    Where is mounts in the case all the holes line up, including the recesses for the pivots.
    The movement is currently held in with a single screw from the back. This may have been done later. There are 4, what appear to be locating holes and two mounting holes, in the back plate and the backboard. These lineup perfectly and one of the locating holes has a pin still in it.
    My guess is the movement was originally held in by 2 screws, one on top and one on the bottom. There are worn out screw holes in the case that correspond to the larger holes in the movement back. At some point a new hole was drilled for the single screw closer to the center. This could be when the locating holes and pins got added?
    There are a number of holes along the top and bottom of where the movement sits. Again a guess, they tried to keep the movement from twisting.
    Speculating: The movement mounting holes got worn, and someone added a center screw threaded into the back plate (looks newer). The then movement twists over time, lacking the base usually found in a banjo case. Someone uses pins or nails along the top and bottom to try and stop the twisting. This doesn't work, they get fed up, and drill 4 holes to hold the movement still.
    All the holes make sense with relation to the movement, which I believe is original to the case.

    The dial:

    The dial has cut outs on the back for the rails, crutch and suspension spring/rod. Looks old and correct to the case. I see no evidence that a metal dial would have been used. No extra holes on the rails etc. The dial fits very well on the case and aligns with the movement.

    The hands:

    The hands fit perfectly, and are one of the best parts on the clock. A unique style, and very attractive.

    There have been some not great repairs/modifications done over the years, but an attractive and unique example of the style.
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    Last edited by Jim Burghart; 03-04-2017 at 07:58 AM.

  14. #14
    Registered User Jim Burghart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas? (By: Jim Burghart)

    Here is a picture showing what I believe are the original holes for mounting the movement. They are not threaded, and match up to old holes in the case that have been stripped out over time.
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  15. #15
    Registered User George Nelson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just picked up a smaller size New Hampshire Mirror, any ideas? (By: Jim Burghart)

    Jim,

    Truly a wonderful clock, and now I have to blame you for wanting to add one to my collection! To date, i have nothing like it, but, due to this discussion, I'm on the lookout for one!

    Another question, if I might: What is the rationale behind painting the inside of the cases of clocks like these?

    Peace always,

    George Nelson

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