Unmarked Boston Area (?) Banjo Timepiece

Raymond Rice

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Feb 14, 2011
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I recently acquired, via a local online auction, what I believe to be an unmarked Boston area banjo timepiece. When I picked it up, my first impression was that it had been pretty well "botched", but I got it for cheap so no complaints. I was initially skeptical of the brass pendulum rod, lead weight, and the "velcro"to the lower door latch. (The previous owner had used a couple of strips of "velcro" to keep the lower door closed. When I removed the strips, the door latch works just fine for me.)
After a little investigating, I found a description of Boston area banjos on page 160 of Paul Foley's "Willard Patent Timepieces". He describes a "throat glass opening for visible curved brass pendulum rod", "painted iron dial with moon hands", and " a long straight click pawl".
The works in this clock are attached via two ears on the backplate, one on the lower left, and one on the upper right (ala Sawin banjos). There are no extraneous holes for mounting the works so I believe the works are original to the case.

The throat glass and the tablet have been repainted, but to my eye, they did a decent job.

The dimensions are 29 1/2" to the chimney top and another 2 1/4" for the eagle finial. I'm skeptical of the originality of the eagle finial. Probably should have been a turned wooden finial? The screw hole in the chimney fits the threads on the eagle and doesn't seem to have been modified.

The dial attaches with L shaped pins and the push button latches for the bezel and the bottom door appear to be original.

All things considered, the clock presents well (as I do), from a distance.

I'm here to learn, so comments/criticisms are appreciated.
Ray Rice

IMG_2312.JPG IMG_2313.JPG IMG_2309.JPG IMG_2310.JPG IMG_2314.JPG IMG_2315.JPG IMG_2316.JPG
 

bruce linde

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nice... like the age on the dial.

it helps to include the following photos to inform the discussion:

- inside of bezel showing how glass is secured, hinge, etc.
- top of inside throat below movement
- dial with bezel door open, secured in place (and are there any additional holes in the wood for possibly other dials??
- weight, pulley, pendulum (top and bottom)
- insides of case
- back of case, and then closeup of back of case behind dial
- inside of lower table door, including hinges
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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Nov 26, 2009
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I recently acquired, via a local online auction, what I believe to be an unmarked Boston area banjo timepiece. When I picked it up, my first impression was that it had been pretty well "botched", but I got it for cheap so no complaints. I was initially skeptical of the brass pendulum rod, lead weight, and the "velcro"to the lower door latch. (The previous owner had used a couple of strips of "velcro" to keep the lower door closed. When I removed the strips, the door latch works just fine for me.)
After a little investigating, I found a description of Boston area banjos on page 160 of Paul Foley's "Willard Patent Timepieces". He describes a "throat glass opening for visible curved brass pendulum rod", "painted iron dial with moon hands", and " a long straight click pawl".
The works in this clock are attached via two ears on the backplate, one on the lower left, and one on the upper right (ala Sawin banjos). There are no extraneous holes for mounting the works so I believe the works are original to the case.

The throat glass and the tablet have been repainted, but to my eye, they did a decent job.

The dimensions are 29 1/2" to the chimney top and another 2 1/4" for the eagle finial. I'm skeptical of the originality of the eagle finial. Probably should have been a turned wooden finial? The screw hole in the chimney fits the threads on the eagle and doesn't seem to have been modified.

The dial attaches with L shaped pins and the push button latches for the bezel and the bottom door appear to be original.

All things considered, the clock presents well (as I do), from a distance.

I'm here to learn, so comments/criticisms are appreciated.
Ray Rice

View attachment 681105 View attachment 681106 View attachment 681107 View attachment 681108 View attachment 681109 View attachment 681110 View attachment 681111
Interesting clock.

Pictures of the lower "box" with glue blocks, tie down, etc. could be helpful

The finial is definitely incorrect. Not sure that plinth is correct either.

Some time ago, I posted another Howard style banjo with its original brass pendulum rod. Here are some pix(sorry, rather dark):

stowell 1.JPG stowell 2.JPG stowell 3.JPG stowell 5.JPG

This clock was never grain decorated. The finial plinth is original but was NEVER drilled to receive one. The dial, albeit faded, is signed "A. Stowell" who was a Charlestown, MA maker.

There are a # of differences from your clock.

Don't have any pix of the movement and don't recall how it mounts. I'm not sure I buy into the oft repeated that mounting ears on a movement invariably = Sawin.

So, there are banjos with brass pendulum rods. The one in your banjo is rather wide?

RM
 

Raymond Rice

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Feb 14, 2011
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Interesting clock.

Pictures of the lower "box" with glue blocks, tie down, etc. could be helpful

The finial is definitely incorrect. Not sure that plinth is correct either.

Some time ago, I posted another Howard style banjo with its original brass pendulum rod. Here are some pix(sorry, rather dark):

View attachment 681140 View attachment 681141 View attachment 681142 View attachment 681143

This clock was never grain decorated. The finial plinth is original but was NEVER drilled to receive one. The dial, albeit faded, is signed "A. Stowell" who was a Charlestown, MA maker.

There are a # of differences from your clock.

Don't have any pix of the movement and don't recall how it mounts. I'm not sure I buy into the oft repeated that mounting ears on a movement invariably = Sawin.

So, there are banjos with brass pendulum rods. The one in your banjo is rather wide?

RM
Good morning, RM and Bruce, Thanks for your comments --more pictures will be coming in a day or so. (sometimes life intervenes) RM- I didn't mean to imply that mounting ears = Sawin. Sawin is an example of the type of mounting. (I have a Sawin & Dyar banjo, so he comes easily to mind.) The brass pendulum rod on mine is 1/2" wide. I believe the tin baffle is a replacement with no residual trace of a tiedown.
Ray Rice
 

Raymond Rice

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Feb 14, 2011
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Good morning, RM and Bruce, Thanks for your comments --more pictures will be coming in a day or so. (sometimes life intervenes) RM- I didn't mean to imply that mounting ears = Sawin. Sawin is an example of the type of mounting. (I have a Sawin & Dyar banjo, so he comes easily to mind.) The brass pendulum rod on mine is 1/2" wide. I believe the tin baffle is a replacement with no residual trace of a tiedown.
Ray Rice
Apologies for the delay in posting pictures (life sometimes gets in the way of my hobbies.)
The closer I look, the more apparent is the troubled past of this timepiece. I now believe that his one is forever relegated to the realm of unmarked/unknown Banjos.
Ray Rice

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Jim DuBois

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While it is always good to be able to identify the maker of our clocks (timepieces) many are extremely difficult to identify as from a specific maker. Why is that? Many of the later timepieces, like this example, were offered for sale by many sellers. There were far fewer makers of these than there were sellers of them. A single maker might well make finished products for several sellers. And many makers used a few case makers and in some cases also bought movements from others, others who supplied movements to more than one party. Then, changes do occur over time. A nonrunning movement might well get replaced by something from another "maker." Weights blow through case bottoms leading to lost weight dividers and pendulum tie downs etc. Sometimes glue blocks fall off and get replaced with something else.

Your clock looks decent, the only thing that offends me is the very wrong finial. I would also replace the pully with a more correct style (most likely a larger diameter). I would paint the weight shield and add a pendulum tie down like RM's show above. I would then hang it on the wall and enjoy it.
 

Raymond Rice

NAWCC Member
Feb 14, 2011
369
51
28
NYS
Country
Region
While it is always good to be able to identify the maker of our clocks (timepieces) many are extremely difficult to identify as from a specific maker. Why is that? Many of the later timepieces, like this example, were offered for sale by many sellers. There were far fewer makers of these than there were sellers of them. A single maker might well make finished products for several sellers. And many makers used a few case makers and in some cases also bought movements from others, others who supplied movements to more than one party. Then, changes do occur over time. A nonrunning movement might well get replaced by something from another "maker." Weights blow through case bottoms leading to lost weight dividers and pendulum tie downs etc. Sometimes glue blocks fall off and get replaced with something else.

Your clock looks decent, the only thing that offends me is the very wrong finial. I would also replace the pully with a more correct style (most likely a larger diameter). I would paint the weight shield and add a pendulum tie down like RM's show above. I would then hang it on the wall and enjoy it.
Jim, thanks for your comments. (the bogus finial has already been deleted).
Ray Rice
 
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