A Clock For The Ages

Tick tock, tick tock. If only this clock could talk. Crafted by Edward Spalding during the days of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, it has been well preserved by the prominent Frieze family in Rhode Island for over 200 years. Its unbroken line of descent is rare and desirable in decorative arts, adding significant value. Discover the high quality, wealth of history, and wise advice inscribed on this stately American timepiece, now available from Viyet.

 

Edward Spalding was one of Rhode Island’s first clockmakers, and only three of his clocks with the coveted “Rocking Ship” movement by him are known. Spalding served in the Revolutionary War in 1776, first as captain, then as major, and returned to clock making after the war. The crafting of such a piece took several weeks. The luxurious and exotic mahogany for the case was exported from the West Indies. The body was carved by a master carver, someone at the height of his craft who had spent many years as an apprentice and journeyman. A team of joiners, carvers, and designers could have possibly completed this clock case in two weeks, if work was efficiently managed.

 

One of its most distinctive aspects is the picture of a ship, rocking back and forth above the clock’s face, keeping in time with each second. Rocking throughout the day, as if in waves on the sea, it stands out as a sophisticated design element compared to a simple dial, and would have been much more expensive at the time.

 

Gracefully inscribed in brass is ETERNIS ADVENIT KNOW THY-SELF WELL APPLY THY TIME. The transience of time has long been the subject of some of our greatest poets and thinkers, and this adage appropriately sits above the ticking seconds, reinforcing the value of time not wasted.

 

What makes this clock additionally significant is its novelty in the American home. A prized possession, the tall case clock was owned by a few, while clocks generally didn’t achieve popularity until after the 1820s. Before then, townspeople had to rely on a sundial or listen to bells to verify the time of day. Imagine what bringing in “the hours” did for a home, and how it changed one’s perspective on industry and independence. Recognized for its value, such clocks cost approximately two years’ average salary in 1770–80 (approximately $100).

 

With elaborate finials, a beautiful swan-neck pediment, gleaming face, and a gorgeous body, this monumental piece is a genteel symbol of the passage of time and a tribute to the fine American craftsmanship during the birth of the United States.

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