Works by Peter Stretch (1670-1746), carving on case attributed to Samuel Harding (d. 1758)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 1730-45
Brass, mahogany, tulip poplar, white pine
Museum Purchase with funds provided by the Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle, the Centenary Fund, Mrs. C. Lalor Burdick, Mr. and Mrs. Richard L. Chilton, Jr., Mrs. Robert N. Downs III, Mr. William K. du Pont, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick C. Fiechter III, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Herdeg, The Hohmann Foundation, Family of Mr. and Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords, Jr., Kaufman Americana Foundation, Mrs. George M. Kaufman, Mr. and Mrs. Barron U. Kidd, Charles Pollak, Peter A. Pollak, Suzanne W. Pollak, Mr. and Mrs. P. Coleman Townsend, Jr., anonymous donors (2), and numerous friends 2004.0051a-j
This clock represents the wealth, status, and privilege of its owners. Few people in the eighteenth century would have owned a clock like this one, and many may not have owned even a rudimentary timekeeping device. Before the availability of inexpensive clocks in the nineteenth century, many Americans relied on sundials or church and courthouse bells to tell the time.
The brass movement in this clock, the grandest of all the tall clocks made by Peter Stretch, will run for eight days between windings. It features a second hand, date aperture, and a moon-phase dial. Two lead weights, accessed through two keyholes in the face, power the movement and the bell, which strikes the hour.
The case, made by an as-yet-unidentified cabinetmaker and ornamented by Philadelphia carver Samuel Harding, includes the coat of arms of the Plumstead family (three chevrons set in a shield supported by rampant lions) at the center, reinforcing the elite status of its owners. The clock was probably first owned by Clement Plumstead (1680–1745), a wealthy Philadelphia merchant who also served a term as mayor.