BIRGE, MALLORY, & CO. EMPIRE SHELF CLOCK
INDEX # : 127-C-1299

circa: 1837-1843

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CLOCK STYLE Empire Shelf Clock (Transition Triple Decker)
CLOCK NAME N/A

MANUFACTURE

Birge, Mallory & Co. Bristol, Conn.  (partners John Birge, Ransom Mallory, Sheldon Lewis, Thomas Fuller, Ambrose Peck)




John Birge (1785-1862), image to left






Ransom Mallory (1792-1853), image to left.  Born in Oxford, Conn.  Married Lucy Candee in 1814.  Learned his trade as a carpenter and cabinet maker, moved to Bristol in 1821 and began making clock cases for the Jerome Clock shop.  Left this employee to form the partnership with John Birge.







Anson Lucius Attwood (1816-1902), worked for Birge & Mallory turning parts for clock cases.  In 1839, he went to work with Elisha Brewster.  Continued his career in the clock making business working for various other firms; Brewster & Ives, Brewster & Ingraham, Elisha Manross, E. Ingraham & Co.  Retired from the business in 1887 at the age of 71.
CASE MODEL # N/A

MOVEMENT TYPE

Large strap brass movement, 8 day weight driven, T&S, hour strike on cathedral gong. Movement is stamped "B.M. & Co.".

Time Weight = 7.4l lbs
Strike Weight = 7.1 lbs
CASE SIZE & CONSTRUCTION Base = 20 1/4", Height = 37 1/2", Depth = 7"

Mahogany veneered Empire (transitional Triple Decker) case with full columns sitting on top of cyma curved consoles, and a straight profile cornice with a cavetto frieze on top of case. The columns are 21" in length, and have a simulated burl walnut finish applied. The case has ball front feet, and tapered feet in the rear.

LABEL INFORMATION

Good condition, stating:

"Patent Brass / Eight-Day / Clocks / Manufactured by / Birge, Mallory & Co. / Bristol, Conn. / And Sold Wholesale and Retail / Warranted if well used"

Printer was "Joseph Hurlbut, Printer, Hartford"

I believe the word "Patent" suggests the use of Joseph Ives patent for roller pinions, or the strike control wire extension which are both used in this movement.

DIAL INFORMATION

Original wood dial with white hand painted background, gold leaf spandrels, chapter rings and center decoration. Dial has black Arabic numerals, and a half moon mirror insert that can be raised to adjust escapement via a wire that protrudes from the top of the case. Dial is 12" x 11 1/4", with a 10" chapter ring. Dial glass (11" x 11") is original, and is held in place with putty.

MISC. FEATURES

The top door glass was a replacement silk screen of a house, border matches lower glass, but this tablet will be removed, and an accurate replacement glass will be reverse painted by KL to restore to as close to original condition as possible. The glass is 11" x 7 1/8" and held in place by new putty. The second image from the top is the replacement reverse painted glass that KL did for this clock. It is an reproduction of a glass that originally would have been in the clock. This reverse glass painting won 3rd Prize at the 2001 NAWCC National Horological Crafts contest in New Orleans, LA.

The lower door glass in an original reverse painted scene of an estate nestled in pine trees, with a pond in the foreground. There are several areas with paint loss, but this tablet will be left in original condition. The glass is 11" x 6", and is held in place with putty.

Both the upper and lower doors have their original escutcheons and locks, but the door key is a replacement. The hour and minute hands are also replacements, the pendulum bob and winding key appear to be original to clock.
ACQUIRED FROM Mart table at the December 1999 Chapter 124 One Day held at the Embassy Hotel in Irving, TX.
CONDITION WHEN ACQUIRED Clock running, movement very dirty and has several pivot holes which will require re-bushing. The case is in good condition with only minor veneer damage, and several areas of veneer that have been restored. The bottom door's reverse painted tablet has minor paint loss in a couple of areas.
RESTORATION February 2001 - Silk screened top door glass was replaced by a reproduction of an original Birge & Mallory tablet, painted by KL.  I cut the border stencil out by hand after we traced it off the original bottom tablet.
HISTORICAL DATA John Birge was born in 1785, and died in Bristol, Conn. in 1862. He was an important figure in the American clock industry, and had many successful partnerships through out his career. It is recorded that he fought in the war of 1812, was active in the church, and was a good Christian. Birge settled in Bristol, Conn. around 1815, he had previously lived in Torrington, Conn. He was trained as a carpenter, and set up business in Bristol making carriages. He was not a clockmaker, but he did have a good head for business, and around 1822 he invested capitol in a clock making venture with Dr. Titus Merriman. The company produced clocks under the name Merriman Birge & Co. In 1830, Birge became a silent partner in the firm of C. & L.C. Ives. During this period, I believe he may have also produced some clocks under his own name. From 1833 through 1837, he was involved in several firms including Birge, Case & Co., Birge, Gilbert & Co., and Birge & Gilbert. In 1837, the firm Birge, Mallory & Co. was formed with principles John Birge, Ransom Mallory (made cases for Chauncey Jerome prior to joining in this firm), Sheldon Lewis, Thomas Fuller, and Ambrose Peck. The firm was known for their Triple Decker shelf clocks, and continued producing 8 day and 30 hour brass movement shelf clocks through 1843, when the firm was dissolved.
REFERENCES 1. "The Book of American Clocks" by Brooks Palmer, 1950.
2. "NAWCC Bulletin Supplement #18, Spring 1991, The Greek Revival Influence on American Clock Case Design", by Lee H. Davis.
3. "American Shelf and Wall Clocks - A Pictorial History for Collectors" by W.D. Ball, 1992, similar clocks shown on pages 16, 124, & 125.
NOTES Being right before Christmas, we went to this One Day with the intention of not bringing home any more clocks. We have completely run out of available wall space in our clock room, not to mention just about every other room in the house. Oh well, the best laid plans of mice and collectors. I guess I am going to have to find another place to put up a new shelf!

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