Lot 1136
  • 1136

Important Chippendale Carved and Figured Mahogany Tall Case Clock, works by Thomas Harland (1735-1807), Norwich, Connecticut, Circa 1780

50,000 - 80,000 USD
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  • mahogany
  • Height 93 in. by Width 18 1/2 in. by Depth 9 1/2 in.
saddleboard carved with initials S SxP; retains a rich, dark color; minor patches and repairs to crest, bottom inch of proper back right foot repaired.


Sotheby's New York, The Collection of Thomas Mellon and Betty Evans, June 19, 1998, sale 7164, lot 2137.


Overall fine condition. Retains a rich, dark color. Minor patches and repairs to crest and the bottom inch of proper back right foot repaired.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Inscribed on the dial “Harland, Norwich,” the movement of this tall-case clock is the work of Thomas Harland (1735-1807), the accomplished, prolific and influential Norwich, Connecticut clockmaker. Born in England in 1735, Harland learned the trade in England and emigrated to Boston by 1773. He moved to Norwich soon after and established a successful clockmaking business. He advertised in the Norwich Packet on December 9, 1773: “Thomas Harland, Watch and Clock-maker from London, … has opened a shop … in Norwich where he makes in the neatest manner … plain watches in gold, silver, metal or covered cases. Spring, musical and plain clocks; … Clock faces engraved and finished for the trade ...”1  In 1787, he advertised that he had for sale “a few very neat gold and silver Watches; made by some of the best Workmen in London” as well as “a variety of Watches and clocks of his own making, shewing Seconds, day of Month, Skeleton and Plain; with chain, spring, eight-day and thirty-hour clocks.”2 By 1790, his workshop employed ten to twelve apprentices and produced as many as forty clocks and two hundred watches each year. Harland’s son, Thomas Jr. (1781-1806), apprenticed in the shop as did the clockmakers Seril Dodge, Daniel Burnap, William Cleveland, Ezra Dodge, David Greenleaf Jr. and Nathaniel Shipman. In 1807, Thomas Harland died in Norwich and his shop inventory dated May 25, 1807 included “1 Eight Day Clock 40.00; 1 Ditto without Case 25.00; 1 Eight Day Time Piece 25.00; 1 Mahogany Case 15.00 and 2 Incomplete Clocks 15.00.”

The dial of this clock is of a distinctive type associated with Harland’s work made with a single flat piece of brass engraved with a chapter ring and rococo foliate spandrel designs and then silvered, with a separate seconds dial and calendar aperture in the center. The case is also of a distinctive type found on many of Harland’s tall case clocks with an arched top with a scalloped crest, cornice moldings consisting of an ovolo molding over a cavetto molding, and a flaring base with a cyma-shaped mid-molding and pendant fan. Among the cabinetmakers known to have provided cases for Harland’s clocks are Abishai Woodward of Preston and Felix Huntington of Norwich.3

A closely related clock with a movement by Harland and similar mahogany case is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.4 Another inscribed “Thos. Harland/ Norwich/ 1776” with a musical movement and cherrywood case is in the collection of the U. S. Department of State.5  Several other very similar Harland clocks include one in the collection of the Society of the Founders of Norwich, Connecticut, one at the Wadsworth Atheneum, and one that descended in the Williams family of Stonington, Connecticut.6

1 Hoopes, Penrose, Connecticut Clockmakers of the Eighteenth Century (New York: 1930),p. 83.
2 Ibid, p. 84.
3 Chase, Ada, “Two 18th-Century Craftsmen of Norwich,” Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin 25, no. 3 (July 1960): 84 and Ada Chase and Houghton Bulkeley, “Thomas Harland’s Clocks – Whose Case,” The Magazine Antiques (June 1965), pp. 700-701.
4 See Morrison Heckscher, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York: 1985), pp. 300-302, no. 194.
5 See Clement Conger and Alexandra Rollins, Treasures of State (New York, 1991), p. 184-185, no. 95.
6 See Hoopes, fig. 44, The Society of the Founders of Norwich, Craftsmen & Artists of Norwich (Norwich, 1965), p. 26 and Israel Sack Inc., American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, Volume I, p. 106, no. 309.