• Important Executive Director Announcement from the NAWCC

    The NAWCC Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Mr. Rory McEvoy has been named Executive Director of the NAWCC. Rory is an internationally renowned horological scholar and comes to the NAWCC with strong credentials that solidly align with our education, fundraising, and membership growth objectives. He has a postgraduate degree in the conservation and restoration of antique clocks from West Dean College, and throughout his career, he has had the opportunity to handle some of the world’s most important horological artifacts, including longitude timekeepers by Harrison, Kendall, and Mudge.

    Rory formerly worked as Curator of Horology at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, where his role included day-to-day management of research and digitization projects, writing, public speaking, conservation, convening conferences, exhibition work, and development of acquisition/disposal and collection care policies. In addition, he has worked as a horological specialist at Bonhams in London, where he cataloged and handled many rare timepieces and built important relationships with collectors, buyers, and sellers. Most recently, Rory has used his talents to share his love of horology at the university level by teaching horological theory, history, and the practical repair and making of clocks and watches at Birmingham City University.

    Rory is a British citizen and currently resides in the UK. Pre-COVID-19, Rory and his wife, Kaai, visited HQ in Columbia, Pennsylvania, where they met with staff, spent time in the Museum and Library & Research Center, and toured the area. Rory and Kaai will be relocating to the area as soon as the immigration challenges and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 permit.

    Some of you may already be familiar with Rory as he is also a well-known author and lecturer. His recent publications include the book Harrison Decoded: Towards a Perfect Pendulum Clock, which he edited with Jonathan Betts, and the article “George Graham and the Orrery” in the journal Nuncius.

    Until Rory’s relocation to the United States is complete, he will be working closely with an on-boarding team assembled by the NAWCC Board of Directors to introduce him to the opportunities and challenges before us and to ensure a smooth transition. Rory will be participating in strategic and financial planning immediately, which will allow him to hit the ground running when he arrives in Columbia

    You can read more about Rory McEvoy and this exciting announcement in the upcoming March/April issue of the Watch & Clock Bulletin.

    Please join the entire Board and staff in welcoming Rory to the NAWCC community.

R.Whiting 8 day ww with mahogany plates

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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This was one of those purchases that I think is something interesting. Or, I may have "screwed the pooch" to borrow some the saucy test pilot lingo in the wonderful book about the early days of the US space program, The Right Stuff, by the journalist and novelist, Tom Wolfe.

There is a wonderful Bulletin Supplement #19 by Rogers and Taylor, 8 Day Wood Movement Shelf Clocks:Their Cases, Their Movements, Their Makers. This is the reference I will be referring to when I cite page numbers and figures. Also, check out the movement table on pages 26-8.

Riley Whiting was a maker of 8 day wood movement shelf clocks. See page 19, figure 55 for a carved triple decker cased example. Note there is no seconds bit.

He used movement type 2.411, an example of which with oak plates is shown on page 45, figure 98.

On page 20, figure 58, there is a triple decker by Rodney Brace. Note the seconds bit. This clock also has a type 2.411 movement, which is shown on page 45, figure 99. This movement has mahogany plates. In the caption to this figure, it is stated that it was probably made by Riley Whiting. On page 28 it is stated, "movements in both Packard and Brace clocks have mahogany plates, while all observed movements in Riley Whiting cases have oak plates".

Now, we come to the clock in question.

The case is a mahogany and mahogany veneer on pine carved triple decker with cyma recta cornice quite similar to that shown on page 19, figure 55. My clock does not have the arch in the front of the cornice and does have a mirror in the center section rather than a reverse painted tablet. I carefully examined the bottom of my clock. There are no marks or shadows to suggest it ever had feet.

The middle tablet of my clock is a wonderful, thin old mirror. Looks original to me. The lower tablet is one where the image from a lithograph was transferred to the glass then hand colored on the reverse. It has flaked and has some areas of lifting. There was a thread some time ago that was looking for original examples of these tablets, and after very careful examination, I have no doubt to its originality. It is not an instance where someone just stuck a print behind the glass. Dig the little representation of a painting of a cottage on the shore of a lake with a teeny sail boat above the marble table set with fruit and flowers flanked by drapes. Unfortunately, at one time the back was coated with shellac or something like it to retard flaking. That's why the retaining putty looks shiney. It's otherwise undisturbed.

The label on the inner back board of the case is as shown on page 13, figure 35. It has suffered losses mainly in the 2 directions sections. The central portion is covered with plastic...attached with tacks into the label. Why oh why do people do stuff like that?

The wood dial is painted white with raised gilt gesso decoration and black Roman numerals. Unfortunately, at one time a screw was driven through the left hand lower corner for attachment. It has some "stretch marks" and flaking. Once again, someone couldn't leave well enough alone and did some crappy retouching, but not much. But look. It has a seconds bit and seconds track!! Careful examination fails to reveal any evidence that there was ever another dial save this one, nor is there any evidence that the dial was altered.

Now, look at the movement. To me it looks like the 2.411, but with mahogany plates..in a Riley Whiting case. Once again, careful examination fails to suggest that this clock has ever had another movement. I've included a pic of where the movement prevented oxidation of the back board. It lines up just fine. The holes for the mounting pins match perfectly those in the movement.

So, a Riley Whiting 8 day mahogany plate wood movement with seconds bit? Looks that way to me. Wouldn't make much sense for his firm to make them for others, albeit in fewer numbers, and never to use them in their own clocks especially if that was what was on hand.

Love to hear people's thoughts.

RM
 

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rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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This is just a great looking clock. I love the seconds bit.
Thanks for your kind comment.

According to the sources I checked, Whiting didn't put mahogany plate 8 day wood movements in his clock, but it seems based upon this example that he did. Rodney Brace used what appears to be the same movement, felt to have been made by Whiting.

Thought that this might represent new info? Worth submitting to Dr. Taylor?

RM
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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Was perusing Horology Americana by Dworetzky and Dickstein. On page 142 found a Riley Whiting 8 day oak plate wood movement clock with a seconds bit all housed in an "double decker" cornice topped case.

Posted a scan of the page.

RM
 

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Peter A. Nunes

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Thanks for your kind comment.

According to the sources I checked, Whiting didn't put mahogany plate 8 day wood movements in his clock, but it seems based upon this example that he did. Rodney Brace used what appears to be the same movement, felt to have been made by Whiting.

Thought that this might represent new info? Worth submitting to Dr. Taylor?

RM
Bob, I just stumbled upon this post. I agree that there are very few Riley Whiting 8 day wood movements around, and I've never seen one with mahogany (could they be walnut?) plates. Snowden Taylor would certainly like to see pictures of this, if you haven't sent them to him already.
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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Bob, I just stumbled upon this post. I agree that there are very few Riley Whiting 8 day wood movements around, and I've never seen one with mahogany (could they be walnut?) plates. Snowden Taylor would certainly like to see pictures of this, if you haven't sent them to him already.
They do look like mahogany, though I'm not the best judge of woods.

Walnut would actually make much more sense in this time period. It is native to the US. It would seem that the driving concepts behind American wooden work production was that the materials used were native so abundant and even local to reduce transportation costs (hence cheap) and the materials were then worked by people with skills, such as wood turning, sawyers, practiced by indigenous craftspeople...like Hoadley and Thomas.

Mahogany is an imported exotic tropical hard wood with a tradition of being highly valued as a primary wood in the production of furniture, clocks, what have you. In this period, the use of mahogany in a secondary role (ie, where it couldn't be seen such as for glue blocks, dust boards, draw bottoms, etc) would be rather unusual in American furniture, but most certainly not unknown.

Finally, there are other tropical woods that are mahogany like in appearance with a history of being used in furniture production.

So, for the reasons above, I'm intriqued by the "walnut hypothesis" and feel it has merit when considering the whole picture.

How to determine if correct? Well, if there are extant account books for the movement makers, it is possible that they would record receiving so many feet of mahogany.

The most direct determination is microanalysis of the wood. Used all the time in the antique furniture world. Often done for furniture as the same early turned chair in American birch is worth powers of 10 more than the exact same chair in English beech. It involves removing samples of wood and sending them to a special lab where they are examined and based upon microscopic details, the species of the wood is determined. A good tool, but there are caveats to the results which need to be considered.

RM
 

Peter A. Nunes

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They do look like mahogany, though I'm not the best judge of woods.

Walnut would actually make much more sense in this time period. It is native to the US. It would seem that the driving concepts behind American wooden work production was that the materials used were native so abundant and even local to reduce transportation costs (hence cheap) and the materials were then worked by people with skills, such as wood turning, sawyers, practiced by indigenous craftspeople...like Hoadley and Thomas.

Mahogany is an imported exotic tropical hard wood with a tradition of being highly valued as a primary wood in the production of furniture, clocks, what have you. In this period, the use of mahogany in a secondary role (ie, where it couldn't be seen such as for glue blocks, dust boards, draw bottoms, etc) would be rather unusual in American furniture, but most certainly not unknown.

Finally, there are other tropical woods that are mahogany like in appearance with a history of being used in furniture production.

So, for the reasons above, I'm intriqued by the "walnut hypothesis" and feel it has merit when considering the whole picture.

How to determine if correct? Well, if there are extant account books for the movement makers, it is possible that they would record receiving so many feet of mahogany.

The most direct determination is microanalysis of the wood. Used all the time in the antique furniture world. Often done for furniture as the same early turned chair in American birch is worth powers of 10 more than the exact same chair in English beech. It involves removing samples of wood and sending them to a special lab where they are examined and based upon microscopic details, the species of the wood is determined. A good tool, but there are caveats to the results which need to be considered.

RM
I agree on all counts. Due to what I've read and been told over the years, I've always accepted non-oak plates on 8 day Connecticut production movement to be mahogany. Two years ago at a Cog counters meeting just prior to the ESR, someone commented "those plates look like walnut", upon seeing such a movement, and I thought "hmmm". I'm also not adept at identifying wood, at least well scraped and finished, seasoned and oxidized wood such as these plates, but I've examined several sets since, and I could easily be convinced of their walnutness. I am very good at identifying firewood, as I am a trained arborist, which is part of what I once did for a living. Mahogany veneer is easy to identify, as long as it is finished. Clock plates are another story.

I am very good at telling chestnut from oak. Chestnut was used on a lot of RI furniture, as a secondary wood. I've had at least two wood tall case movements with chestnut plates... one of these fomented a fifteen minute long argument with a well know clock collector, who insisted, and to this day believes, that chestnut clock plates were just an impossibility. But, there they were. So, I think walnut is a real possibility. Someone (whose last name will me "Notme") should do some research- it should be easy and basic for the right person.

Years ago, Ward Francillon sent an Asa Munger tall case movement (which I now own) to the University of Mississippi wood lab, where it was determined microscopically to consist of White birch (which is circumpolar, so not a North American indicator species necessarily), Red maple, and I think Eastern white pine. This research laid to rest the notion that Munger was importing his movements from the Black Forest of Germany, which I think is where he was trained. This is the same Asa Munger who late moved to upstate New York, and became famous for his elaborate brass movement, eight day shelf clocks.
 
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Jeremy Woodoff

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I think mahogany in that period was imported from Honduras. There was, I believe, lots of trade between the U.S. and the West Indies. Although it is a secondary wood in that it is not normally a visible part of the clock, as a functional part of the movement it might have been chosen over cheaper alternatives because of its perceived qualities.
 

Kevin W.

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That is a great looking clock.A once in a lifetime find perhaps.
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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Jeremy: food for thought. If the plates of these movements are in fact mahogany, then it does raise the question as to why would not only Whiting, but Terry, Seth Thomas, Mark Lane, etc, choose this material over a readily available local one for some of their movements? Was it the perception of quality? Could they charge more?

Veritas: thanks for your kind comment.

RM
 

DanJeffries

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Another R.Whiting 8 day ww with mahogany plates

I know this post is extremely old but it also helps confirm my clocks ID and re-assure me, I did well. I had confirmed that this truly was a Riley Whiting from a fellow WW clock collector who has a similar clock and I also used the bulliten suppliment, however I too was confused with the reference to the plates. Mine also appear to be mahogany and not oak so glad to see this mystery is already solved.

So, I do believe I have the twin brother to this clock from what it appears and the clocks have identical movements and cases. My clock does not have any evidence of feet as well, al though I like the pawl feet better. The clock was rather dirty when I received it but the clock had been meticulously maintained over its life as noted on the back of the dial. Most of my WW clock dials have several markings from clockmen that had serviced the clock, well this dial is full and there basically is no more "signing room" and they all state the same thing. Cleaned....Cleaned.....there are a couple of repairs, but nothing major. The movement is in excellent shape. The Mirror seems to be a replacement and the lower tablet has been touched up or redone at some point. It now has a crack so a later project. The dial of course could use a touch up as well but that will come later, but I just love the seconds bit and.....the fact its an 8 day!!!

After I cleaned and serviced the movement, the movement runs flawlessly and strikes a nice toned bell.

Glad I ran across this old post. Just thougtht I would share. I sat it next to my Gilbert to give it some Scale. It towers above most all shelf clocks.

Thanks
Dan
 

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rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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Re: Another R.Whiting 8 day ww with mahogany plates

I know this post is extremely old but it also helps confirm my clocks ID and re-assure me, I did well. I had confirmed that this truly was a Riley Whiting from a fellow WW clock collector who has a similar clock and I also used the bulliten suppliment, however I too was confused with the reference to the plates. Mine also appear to be mahogany and not oak so glad to see this mystery is already solved.

So, I do believe I have the twin brother to this clock from what it appears and the clocks have identical movements and cases. My clock does not have any evidence of feet as well, al though I like the pawl feet better. The clock was rather dirty when I received it but the clock had been meticulously maintained over its life as noted on the back of the dial. Most of my WW clock dials have several markings from clockmen that had serviced the clock, well this dial is full and there basically is no more "signing room" and they all state the same thing. Cleaned....Cleaned.....there are a couple of repairs, but nothing major. The movement is in excellent shape. The Mirror seems to be a replacement and the lower tablet has been touched up or redone at some point. It now has a crack so a later project. The dial of course could use a touch up as well but that will come later, but I just love the seconds bit and.....the fact its an 8 day!!!

After I cleaned and serviced the movement, the movement runs flawlessly and strikes a nice toned bell.

Glad I ran across this old post. Just thougtht I would share. I sat it next to my Gilbert to give it some Scale. It towers above most all shelf clocks.

Thanks
Dan
Thanks for sharing. Nice to see another for confirmation.

I saw that clock on the internet auction site the name of which I shan't mention. Was sorely tempted, but honestly, they're big clocks and I'm already tripping over stuff.

Yes, nice earlier American stuff do show up there.

Great carved case. Chunky piece of late Federal/Neoclassical revival furniture.

Enjoy your prize.

RM
 

soaringjoy

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Re: Another R.Whiting 8 day ww with mahogany plates

I'm really enjoying this thread and have already learned extensively.

Peter, the BF wooden movements were made of beech,generally, so if you have one
made of birch, it would have been a somewhat special one.
 

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