This handsome tall case clock has impressive scale and is constructed of vibrant tiger maple. The clock is a superb example of the Chester county form and is accompanied with a single family provenance and attribution to both cabinetmaker and clockmaker. The clock descends in the prominent Ralston family who were present in the region at the beginning of the 18th Century. The clock movement is attributed a maker Henry Baldwin who was working in Pikeland Township during this period. The case is attributed to Benjamin Bunn [1760-1835] of Rockville and Honey Brook Township.
The dramatically proportioned hood features a scrolled and molded crest set with turned and floral carved disks at the end of each scroll. The scrolls center a raised plinth set with a turned urn-form spire finial, which is flanked by matching smaller finials set atop short chimneys. The flat tympanum is above the arch tombstone form door, which is flanked with turned, reeded and faceted colonnettes. The glazed dial door opens to a wonderfully painted iron dial of American manufacture.
The dial remains in terrific original condition and a painted moon phase disk in the lunette, decorated with hand painted scenes and moon faces. One side of the moon disk depicts a war ship flying an American flag and on the opposite side is a wonderful coastal scene. At the base of this lunette are two hemispheres, each decorated with highly detailed terrestrial maps. The clock face has Roman numerals to demark the hour and an outer ring of Arabic numerals to demark the minutes. The dial is framed by classical gilt scrolls and is set with a seconds bit and calendar window. The dial is fitted with original gilded and engraved, cut steel hands The brass eight-day movement has recently been serviced and is in excellent condition. The movement retains a pair of original weights and a steel shaft pendulum with a bass capped lead bob.
The hood transitions to the waist section with a broad flared molding above a horizontal “reel” molding. The waist has flat reeded sides and a rectangular pendulum door with semi-circular cut outs at the top edge.
The door has an applied cockbead molding and a brass lock surround with an original iron lock. The door opens to two engraved brass plaques that describe the origins and provenance of the clock.
The waist transitions to the base section with another broad flared molding. The base repeats the layout above with reed molded sides and a molded panel with matching cockbead. The base has a lobed apron and graceful French feet.
Dimensions: Height including center finial 104”; Width 10”; Depth 10 ½”
Provenance: Captain James Ralston [1767-1832] to his son*
John Ralston [1802-1880] to his son
James Buchanan Ralston [1837-1910] to his daughter
Frances Grier Ralston to her daughter
Louisa M. Ralston Baugh to her daughter
Emily B Gest [1864- ] to her daughter
Margaret Ralston Gest [1901-1965] to her heir**
*Captain James Ralston married Frances Grier in 1792. Their two sons, John and James were esteemed members of the Old Brandywine Manor Presbyterian Church. They were farmers who each owned half of their father’s property in Rockville, PA. John was also the Principal of the Rockville Academy, a ruling elder of the Brandywine Manor Church for 36 years and choir master there for more than 30 years. He and a number of his relations are interred at the Forks of the Brandywine Cemetery
**Margaret Ralston Gest is a listed artist, painting landscape and natural views in her distinctive modern style. Her paintings are in the collection of the Smithsonian and other local institutions and public records of sale exist.