Published: August 4, 2020
EAST DENNIS, MASS. — A William Fitz tall case clock, circa 1795, stood head and shoulders above several notable lots from the New Hampshire collection of Lawrence and Dorothy Perkins, a featured section of Eldred’s summer sale, July 30-31 at the firm’s headquarters on Cape Cod. It sold for $68,750, including buyer’s premium.
With a magnificently constructed case in mahogany and mahogany veneer with eastern white pine secondary woods, the clock features an arched bonnet with three brass ball-and-spire finials on plinths joined by pierced and relief-carved fretwork in a foliate design. A conforming arched frieze above the dial door has bone inlay in a design that mirrors the fretwork. An arched glazed dial door is flanked by brass-capped fluted full columns with partial brass stop-fluting. There are additional brass-capped quarter columns at rear of bonnet. The arched shape of the dial door is echoed in glazed openings at both sides of the bonnet and on the pendulum door. The trunk has brass-capped fluted full columns with partial brass stop-fluting. The maker applied molding along perimeter of pendulum door and on base panel, bracket base with scalloped skirt. Its movement is brass eight-day weight-driven with anchor recoil escapement and rack-and-snail striking mechanism. The clock’s painted enamel dial features foliate designs at corners, a Roman numeral hour ring, an ordinal minutes ring, subsidiary seconds and calendar dials and a moon phase dial in the lunette framed with terrestrial hemisphere maps. The piece is signed on dial “W. Fitz Portsmouth,” branded “S. HAM” on interior of the backboard, possibly indicating the clock was owned by merchant Samuel Ham (1770-1813) or clockmaker Supply Ham (1788-1862), both of Portsmouth. It is also inscribed “RS” in chalk on the backboard and marked “Osborne Birmingham” on the false plate of the dial. Height is 94 inches, width 20 inches, depth 10 inches.
Accompanying the lot was Portsmouth Furniture Masterworks from the New Hampshire Seacoast edited by Brock Jobe (Hanover, N.H.: Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities/University Press of New England, 1993), in which the clock was illustrated on pages 201-203. According to the book, William Fitz opened his clockmaking shop in 1791, at age 21. Fitz was born in Newburyport, Mass., and it is believed he trained there, as it was a clockmaking center at the time. Fitz lived in Portsmouth from only 1791 to 1798, then returned to Newburyport. He also lived in Portland, Maine, and in Boston before dying in New Orleans in 1827.
A full recap of the sale will follow.
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