E C Brewster & Sons 30 hour OG clock with splotch on mercantile exchange Philadelphia tablet

gmitche4

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I just acquired this clock and am puzzled by the brown splotch on the tablet, thinking somebody has defaced the picture. However I find on the net a similar splotch on an 8 day clock, as seen by the pictures. I don't understand what I am seeing. Is this a defacement occurring on only 2 clocks worlds apart?
Graham
Sydney Australia
PS I have previously owned 2 OGees with round weights and am fascinated by the squared house
My Brewster label and weight.jpeg
8 day Brewster label.png
My Brewster tablet.jpeg
My 30 hour Brewster.jpeg
Brewster 8 day clock.png
8 day brewster tablet.png
shape
 

wow

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I think you have acquired an eight day clock. If the weights are around 7lbs, it is eight day. They are usually square rather than round. Others will know more about the tablet than I. Nice clock!
 

PatH

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With respect to the tablets. Do you happen to have a picture of the backs? If you are referring to the brown swatch of paint the covers from behind the wagon around the left side of the building to the tree, it is likely just the tablet painter's choice. I have seen several of the Merchants Exchange tablets where the road in the foreground is painted brown while the section that is brown in your examples is painted a lighter color. If you do a google search for "Merchants Exchange clock" and look through the images, you'll see some of the variations.
 

gmitche4

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Picture of the movement and splotch. Web search produced one more example without splotch.
DSC07878.jpeg
DSC07877.jpeg
DSC07874.jpeg
 

PatH

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I don't believe it's a defacement, rather the ornamental painters' color choices. From the picture of the back of your tablet, you can see in the section where the lighter paint has been abraded that the brown was painted before the background, so it appears to be intentional. Generally, you don't see colors this dark/deep on the reverse painted tablets because the darker colors obscure the engraved lines and you lose the detail of the image.
 

new2clocks

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I don't believe it's a defacement, rather the ornamental painters' color choices. From the picture of the back of your tablet, you can see in the section where the lighter paint has been abraded that the brown was painted before the background, so it appears to be intentional. Generally, you don't see colors this dark/deep on the reverse painted tablets because the darker colors obscure the engraved lines and you lose the detail of the image.
Pat,

What would have been the purpose of using any color (dark brown or light brown) in the area of the OP's tablet that is the subject of this thread?

I am not sure what that color, or any color in the area of the dark brown, was meant to represent. To me it seems out of place. In addition, you can see the legs and feet of the people underneath the brown color.

I am not saying that the tablet was defaced, but it makes no sense to me.

Regards.
 

Ralph

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I was thinking that the paint used was red based and may have bled through the foreground paint over the years. Red paint is known to cause bleeding problems.

Ralph
 
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PatH

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Pat,

What would have been the purpose of using any color (dark brown or light brown) in the area of the OP's tablet that is the subject of this thread?

I am not sure what that color, or any color in the area of the dark brown, was meant to represent. To me it seems out of place. In addition, you can see the legs and feet of the people underneath the brown color.

I am not saying that the tablet was defaced, but it makes no sense to me.

Regards.
I'll preface this by saying I'm a relative newbie in this area, but having found it fascinating, I've spent some time looking at pictures, reading, talking to people, and trying to learn more about these tablets. The Jan/Feb 2020 Bulletin is dedicated to extensive work by Paul Henion discussing the history and providing pictures and details of images used on painted clock tablets. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the tablets of American clocks from this era. NAWCC members can access the issue online here. On page 68, Paul includes a clear image of a Merchants Exchange tablet that demonstrates better than what I attempt to outline below. If you're viewing it online, you can enlarge the image to study the detail.

Generally, it seems that area was painted a light gray or lighter brown, so the area was set off from the street in the foreground. By using a lighter color, it set off the area. From what I have seen and read, these tablets were painted very quickly to meet the industry demand, so only the major details are highlighted with individual colors. Everything else is generally broad brush strokes that cover an entire area, relying on the detail of the engraving to provide shading and detail. We are accustomed to seeing detail, so would be inclined to go to great lengths to paint all of the detail, down to hands and faces, but can you imagine how much longer that would take, not to mention the skill needed to "color in the lines" and to be that exacting.

If you look closely at some of the other images where that area is painted a lighter color, you can see that in the engraving, that section looks like there might have been a boardwalk, or something similar (not sure what was used during that era) that the people were standing on. I'm sorry, but I don't have permission to use any of the online pictures; however you should be able to find a clock that shows this area in a lighter color.

I was thinking that the paint used was red based and may have bled through the foreground paint over the years. Red paint is known to cause bleeding problems.
Ralph, from what I've heard and seen, the darker colors would have been applied first and allowed to dry before backing up with the lighter color when the next section was painted. An example of this is the orangey-brown of the horse-drawn conveyance. From the front, you can see the color and detail from the engraving showing through the paint, to the right of the brown. On the reverse photo, you only see a rectangular shape (to the left because of this being the reverse) that has been backed with a light color.

Hope this helps. Again, I would say that I don't think the dark brown is defacement, rather the painters' choices of color when painting that section. I thought it might have been due to an attempt to touch-up a missing area, but seeing the reverse with the light paint over the dark paint at each end, I don't think this is case. (Others who know more about this area might disagree, but that's my amateur feeling.) Regardless, it's a great clock, and you're fortunate to have found one with a tablet in such good condition.
 

gmitche4

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Thank you all for your "forensic" help. Researching my own clocks is a great pleasure for me and your assistance has been valuable in sorting out this query.
That's a great NAWCC article on tablets which I have downloaded to attach to my research on this clock, as well as your comments. So far it seems the "splotch' is original. The colour may have changed over the years. It exists on at least 2 clocks by the same maker, E C Brewster & Son and would be after 1855 when this firm started. Now onto the movement which has a wheel with a tooth missing,
Graham Mitchell
Sydney
 

PatH

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Glad to help. I wonder if it might have been the same painter, or the same shop which might have all used the same colors when painting a run of these tablets. If only clocks could talk.:)

If you are an NAWCC member, you can ask the moderators to add the NAWCC banner to your profile.
 

gmitche4

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Thanks, I'm a longtime member No 91729, I'll try and figure out how to do that
 
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