Ives and Lewis Reeded Column and Scroll

Discussion in 'Highlights' started by George Nelson, Apr 27, 2020.

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  1. George Nelson

    George Nelson Registered User
    NAWCC Member Deceased

    Oct 5, 2007
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    Hi, All
    First, forgive the length of this post, but this is my most exciting acquisition since the Patent Timepiece I recently scored. In this posting, I've intentionally chosen to place my pictures large and within the text for clarity and ease of understanding.

    This newest clock for my collection was acquired from an online auction for an amazingly low price. Normally, my meager budget would never allow the purchase of an expensive clock like this, but good fortune was with me this time, and my almost embarrassing low offer was accepted!

    The clock is commonly referred to as a Reeded Column and Scroll, and this case design was first offered by the firm of Ives & Lewis (Chauncey Ivesand Sheldon Lewis) sometime between 1821 and 1823. Chauncey was one of the younger brothers of the famous Joseph Ives and Sheldon Lewis was exclusively a financial backer, with no involvement as a manufacturer or retailer.

    Quoting loosely from Ken Robert's stellar publication entitled "The Contributions of Joseph Ives to Connecticut Clock Technology" about this style of clock, Robert's says: "It would be fair to say that, based on the numbers known to date, production of these clocks was quite low… They contained an expensive movement to produce,and were noncompetitive with Eli Terry's or Seth Thomas's products of 1819-1820 nor with Terry's 5-arbor movement of 1823. The case style was pleasing, as suggestedby the greater numbers produced with Jerome Darrow & Co. labels, Jerome, Thompson & Coo, and Orrin Hart in the following years, until the advent of the bronze looking glass case.

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    The seller of the clock reported to me that it had been stored by the original purchasing family in a barn in Connecticut for 121 years, ever since both elderly weight cords strangely snapped together sometime in 1896, according to written family history. If we assume the latest manufacturing date possible (1823), this clock is at least 194 years old, and was used for an assumed 73 years before being relegated to the barn. The bottom glass was broken sometime during that long hayloft storage and was replaced with an incorrect mirror by the seller. A proper replacement, to be painted on old glass by Tom Moberg, is currently in production. The clock is also missing its three finials, which would have been similar to those used in pillar and scroll clocks of the period.

    The clock, residing in the far back corner of the aforementioned hayloft, was once home to a rather tidy family of mice, who left behind a bit of evidence of their residence, indicating they were well fed and happily nested. It seems that they did not chew on any of the wood of their home, as most typical mouse children do. Inactuality, no permanent damage occurred from their stay within the clock at all!
    This piece is quite a departure from most of the wood movement clocks we encounter today, thanks to the Ives family's penchant for unusual developments in movement design. It is a most welcome addition to my collection, and employs an interestingly different pendulum rod suspension technique, as well as roller pinions that all still seem to be completely functional.

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    The 30-hour wood movement is often referred to as a "seatboard groaner", and has its weight cord pulleys mounted directly in the seatboard, rather than in the more conventional location in the top of the case.
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    You'll notice that the movement plates are made of mahogany rather than the much more commonly-used oak.

    The clock strikes the hours on a cast iron bell, mounted outside on the top of the case, and has an uncommon door lock and brass lined keyway. Since the door to the clock is the entire front piece, the keyhole is located on the right side of the piece, and would not be easily seen in everyday use. The common brass or bone escutcheon, almost universally used in woodworks and other clocks is not employed here, in favor of the brass lining. The brass lining in the keyway seems to be a bit off an unnecessary expense, but is another example of Ives' strange lack of concern for cost-saving measures. Despite the lockset's differences from what we are more used to, it uses the standard Terry Type key that we are all familiar with.

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    The hands are of the typical wood movement style we are all used to, but have surprisingly little clearance between the two, making their alignment a bit of a study in frustration. While it does not appear so in the picture of the movement, the minute arbor is indeed square and of the same size as typical Terry style hands.
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    The clock employs an unusual method of holding the dial: two pins on top and two pins protruding from the front of the bottom support rail, making removal and accurate re-alignment especially convenient. I'm not sure why the industry moved away from this method, as it seems particularly effective. It does, however, require substantially heavier dial backing rails which can be seen in the pictures, and was perhaps more labor-intensive to produce.
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    Except for typical age darkening, the label is surprisingly intact, with no evidence of water staining or kerosene damage.
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    As noted in my posting on clock label damage here:
    it was common practice to put either a small container of kerosene or a kerosene soaked rag within the body of a clock, to keep the movement 'lubricated', thus leaving water-like stains over time. Of course, this was an old wives' tale, and actually did more harm than good. Can you imagine the odor given off from this practice?
    The clock has survived its years of use and storage quite well, and the movement was functional when received. I know that there are many older American clocks still running today, but I'm quite surprised that the movement started right upafter 73 years of use and subsequent 121 years of storage in the hayloft of an old Connecticut barn! Quite a testimony to the Ives family and their inventive genius. There is some damage to the veneer in some places, but overall, the clock is in surprisingly good condition. All it took from me was a good once-over with some GoJo waterless hand cleaner, which removed years of grime and smoke accumulation.

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    The case finish, which I judge to be original as it shows no signs of a refinish, came alive! It retains the original luster, which I believe is called a 'French polish', exhibiting a soft, even low luster shine, one which is quite pleasing.

    Now, all I have to do is find a suitable location for my prize! It will take a bit of creativity to find the old girl a home, as seemingly every square inch of wall space in our tiny little house is full. There is actually no room at all, even for the proverbial 'fly on the wall'!

    Again ,friends, thanks for taking the time and reading this long post. I love to learn about each of the clocks in my collection as much as I love sharing that knowledge with you!

    Peace, harmony and best wishes to all,

    George Nelson


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    Ives and Lewis Reeded Column and Scroll Click for full discussion.
     

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