Joshua Wilder, Hingham
Abiel White, 1823
Joshua Wilder was a prolific clockmaker at work in the South Shore during the Federal Period. Over the years we have owned shelf, banjo, tall case, and dwarf clocks made by him. This particular example is a clock that we reacquired and represents one of the finest examples of his work. Wilder was born in 1786 and died in 1860. He was apprenticed to John Bailey and ultimately became one of the leaders of famous group of Quaker Clockmakers from this region. Joining Wilder in this remarkable clock was Abiel White a cabinetmaker from Weymouth who had previously worked with Bailey and in addition to clock cases made fine period case furniture. This case bears his ink inscription within the hood “Abiel White April 2nd 1823 / Maker”. When you study the construction of this particular clock case it becomes readily apparent that Abiel White played a prominent role in the design and reduction to practice of the legendary Hingham – Hanover area “Dwarf Tall Case” clocks. While there are numerous “Abiel White” attributions associated with clock cases this is the only documented example that I have ever seen.
The clock case is constructed of choice flame mahogany with a wonderful warm patina. The arched top bonnet retains its original delicate applied fretwork and chimney blocks that support three original brass finials. The bonnet is flanked by a pair of turned columns supported by brass capitals. The glazed bonnet door opens to an American painted iron dial from the Boston school of craftsmen. The dial with geometric spandrel decoration executed in typical Federal colors: mustard yellow and blood red highlighted by raised gilt bead decoration mounts directly to the movement without the use of an intermediate or “false plate.” The arched section of the dial is fitted with a rolling moon with moon faces, country scene, and a sailing ship. a painted moon phase disk in the lunette, decorated with hand painted scenes and moon faces. The time track of the dial has Arabic numerals, and is fitted with a calendar disc and seconds register. The dial retains a remarkable, untouched original signature below the center arbor: “Warranted By J. Wilder / Hingham”. The skeletonized plate brass movement is a identifiable regional period detail associated with the Southeastern Massachusetts Quaker Clockmakers. The works have been professionally serviced and in excellent condition. The movement is fitted with an original steel shaft pendulum with a brass capped lead bob and a pair of cast iron weights. The waist section of the case has smooth quarter columns with decorated by brass capitals that flank a rectangular thumb molded door with cross banded accent framing the central panel. The base panel continues the theme of the waist door with a cross-banded border around the central figured mahogany panel. The base continues to a shaped apron all resting on straight French fee. Overall Dimensions: 85 ½ X 19 ½ X 10 inches.