The Coney Family Chippendale Tall Clock (Stoughton, MA)

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The Coney Family tall case clock


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The Daniel Coney Family Important Chippendale Tall Case Clock. By William Crane, Stoughton, Massachusetts, dated 1795

This handsome and well proportioned clock was produced by the clockmaker William Crane [1749-1820]. He was born in nearby Stoughton, Massachusetts and moved to Canton where he worked as a clockmaker, gunsmith and brass founder with his son Simeon. Only a handful of tall clocks are known by William Crane and this is certainly the most important example. The impressive scale and premium materials indicate that the clock was created as a special order for a significant client of means. The formal case was produced in Boston in a form commonly referred to as a “Roxbury” case. They were popularized by the highly prolific Willard family of clockmakers, beginning after the American Revolution. This case is fashioned on a grand scale, from the lavish mahogany panels right up to the highly decorated crest with gilt flame finials.
The clock is accompanied by a single family provenance and was passed through several generations of a prominent family, before being acquire by Gary Sullivan Antiques. The clock descended through the Coney family beginning with Daniel Coney [1752-1842] an eminent citizen of Stoughton, Massachusetts and Augusta Maine. He studied medicine with Dr. Samuel Curtis, whose niece Susanna Curtis of Sharon, he married November 14, 1776. At the time of the battle of Lexington he was living in Shutesbury, Massachusetts. Serving with a militia, he was called to reinforce the army under Washington at Cambridge and then sent as adjutant of a regiment of infantry to join General Gates at Saratoga, and was at the surrender of Burgoyne in 1777. Gilbert Stuart painted his portrait and it is believed to be commissioned as a result of his relationship with James Bowdoin. Bowdoin had hired Stuart to paint the portraits of Jefferson and Madison and Coney’s was painted some time after circa 1815. Family history states that he acquired the clock from Crane through his family connections that remained in Stoughton. A complete provenance is below.
This clock case was made in Boston as a premium example from the shops producing “Roxbury” cases during the late 18th Century. These refined forms featured choice mahogany and constrained lightwood inlay, brass stop fluting and distinctive fretwork crest and ogee bracket feet. The Coney clock is a particularly impressive example, which is constructed on a grander scale than most others. The densely figured mahogany panels are of exceptional quality and are clearly premium selections. The “Roxbury” crest typically features brass ball and spire finials, this example is fitted with exceptional carved and gilt urn and flame finials. Likewise, the movement and dial are special orders, created specifically for this important clock. A clock of this scale and quality was intended to reflect Mr. Coney’s prominence and would have adorned a very fine home.
The clock is constructed primarily of dense mahogany and retains a wonderful historic surface with a deep color. The molded hood is mounted with three rectangular chimneys, or plinths, each fitted with urn and flame finials. The chimneys frame a traditional early Roxbury type pierced fretwork. This cresting rests atop a molded arched cornice and a mahogany tombstone-form dial door with brass keyhole escutcheon. Brass stop-fluted colonnettes with brass capitals and bases flank this door.
The door opens to a finely painted iron dial of local origins, which features a painted moon phase disk in the lunette, decorated with moon faces opposite hand painted scenes. These scenes include a naval ship at sea and a pleasing image of a coastal landscape with a cottage at the shore. At the base of this lunette are two hemispheres, each decorated with terrestrial map transfers. The clock face, has Roman numerals to demark the hour and an outer ring of Arabic numerals to demark the minutes. The Arabic numerals are of oversized regional style with distinctive exaggerated serifs. The dial is framed with gilt scrolled spandrels. The center arbor is fitted with wonderfully shaped original steel hands. These include a large sweep second hand. The sweep second at the center arbor is a special feature that would have been produced at a premium. The dial has a calendar window below the center arbor.
The dial is signed above the arbor in bold Old English calligraphy with the maker’s name “William Crane” and in flowing cursive his locale “Stoughton”. The dial is dated, also in cursive, below the arbor “1795”.
The hood transitions to the waist section with a broad flared molding. The waist is set with brass stop fluted quarter columns with brass capitals and bases flanking a tomb-stone form pendulum door. The pendulum door has a molded edge around a richly grained mahogany panel and a line-inlaid perimeter centering an oval fan.
The mahogany in the door has exceedingly dense graining and was laid out to center on the oval fan. The door is fitted with a lock and brass keyhole escutcheon. The interior of door has an early label describing the history of ownership and operation instructions. This door opens to an original pendulum with a brass capped lead bob and tin can weights. The brass, weight driven, time and strike, eight-day movement rests on a pine saddle board and is original to the case. The movement is in good original condition, has recently been professionally serviced and is in fine running order.
The waist transitions to the base section with another broad flared molding. The base is comprised of a richly figured mahogany panel with a matching line inlay and oval fan. A double stepped molding transitions to ogee bracket feet. The bracket feet have a distinctive cuff at the base, which is common to Roxbury cases produced in the last part of the 18th Century.
Dimensions: Height including finial: 103"; Width: 19”; Depth: 10”
Provenance: Family history states that the clock was first owned by the
Honorable Daniel Coney [1752-1842] born in Stoughton, Massachusetts
At the time of the clocks manufacture he was a wealthy and influential statesman living in Augusta, Maine. His wife’s family and portions of his family remained in Stoughton in an are which would become Sharon, Massachusetts. These individuals too, were also eminent members of their community. His father-in-law, Reverend Philip Curtis [1717-1797] was the first minister over the parish established in Sharon in 1741. His home there still stands. It is likely that Daniel Coney turned to his connections in his more urban hometown to acquire his fine clock. During this period there were few clockmakers as far north as Augusta, Maine and none of whom could produced anything but primitive rural examples. The family proudly kept the history of the clock and the important first owner is mentioned in a note affixed to the inside of the door. Thus, this history of ownership followed:
• Hon. Daniel Coney [1752-1842] Married November 14, 1776
Susanna Curtis [1752-1833] To their daughter
• Abigail Guild (Coney) Ingraham [1791-1875] Married January 18, 1818
John Henniker Ingraham [1793-1864] To their Son
• Joseph Sprague Ingraham [1825-1873] Married
Isabella (Cummings) Ingraham [1834-1932] To their daughter
• Mary Prentiss (Ingraham) Davies [1868-1959] Married
Albert E. Davies [1860-1915] To their daughter
• Paulina Bass (Davies) Dow [1899-1959] Married
Frank Chenery Dow To their daughter
• Paula Prentiss Tate (Dow) Kurtz [1936-2013]
DANIEL CONEY is a member of an early New England family that arrived in Boston during the middle of the 17th Century. The son of Deacon Samuel Coney [1718-1803], he was born in Stoughton, Massachusetts. Stoughton was formerly a very large area and was subsequently divided into smaller localized communities. The area that Daniel was from is now part of Sharon, Massachusetts. He studied medicine in Marlboro, Massachusetts with Dr. Samuel Curtis. He would marry his niece Susanna Curtis, also of Sharon, in November of 1776. Susanna’s father was the *Reverend Philip Curtis [1717-1797] the first minister over the parish established in Sharon in 1741. At the time this parish was still part of Stoughton. It is likely Daniel had existing relations with the Curtis family prior to his study of medicine.
Daniel was a practicing medicine in Shutesbury, Massachusetts where he was part of the local militia. This militia served General Washington at Cambridge and Boston during the outset of the American revolution. Shortly after he became adjutant of an infantry regiment under General Gates and witnessed Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga in October of 1777. During this time, he and his father relocated their family to Hallowell, Maine, near to Augusta on the Kennebec river, where Daniel joined him in 1778. James N. North, in his History of Augusta describes him as follows. 
He was "eminent in his profession" and also politically prominent. He represented his home city in the Massachusetts General Court, where he was a member of its Executive Council. He was a member of the second Electoral College and cast his vote to reelect George Washington and John Adams president and vice president respectively. He was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, then judge of probate for Kennebec County. At that time Maine was part of Massachusetts; when the regions were divided into two states, Coney was Augusta's delegate to Maine's constitutional convention, and then became judge of probate under that new constitution. He held office until 1823, resigning due to age: he was 71.
Coney was all early and avid supporter of educational institutions. He was a trustee of Hallowell Academy, an overseer of Bowdoin College, and the founder and endower of Cony Female Academy in Augusta. 
The Academy was built in 1815 at the judge's own expense. He was the father of four daughters and, as he wrote to prospective trustees that year: "The importance of female education has for a number of years been a subject of my most serious and anxious solicitude..." He recommended instruction gratis to such number of orphans and other females, under sixteen years of age, as shall be certified by a committee "of their board as worthy the bounty. [sic]" The subjects to be taught here were "various useful and ornamental branches of female education," including "reading, writing, arithmetic, English grammar, geography, history, etc. with every kind of useful and ornamental needle work, print work, etc."
North describes the judge's character thusly: Judge Cony was a man of vigorous intellect, sound judgment, quick perception and ready resource. He was uniformly successful in whatever he resolutely undertook, was a strong ally, a safe and vigorous leader, and he attained to an influence with his fellow men which few acquire. Decision and firmness were conspicuous traits in his character, while he was always cool, calculating and sagacious.
"In his latter days, the Judge had an eccentricity of manner which was dignified and harmless, and rather added to  than detracted from the interest of personal intercourse. We  recollect when a boy attending a meeting in the South parish  meeting-house and seeing the Judge walk up the broad aisle  with slow and measured tread, clad in a tartan plaid coat much  like the morning dressing-gown of gentlemen of the present  day. A red cap of fine worsted covered his head, from beneath  which escaped locks frosted to a snowy whiteness by age. In  his left hand he held a cane by its center so that its ivory head  appeared above his shoulder. His form was erect and his  appearance venerable, as with sedate aspect he assumed his  seat and became an attentive worshiper." '  Judge Daniel Coney died January 21, 1842, when he was 90.
His portrait was painted by Gilbert Stuart and it hangs in the Minneapolis Institue of Art. See attached. Judith Sobol provides an account of it’s history. In the summer of 1805, Gilbert Stuart moved to Boston. Earlier, he had been commissioned by James Bowdoin, founder of Bowdoin College, to do a portrait of Jefferson and one of Madison. The portraits were hung in Bowdoin's home in Maine by 1807; in 1813 they went to the college. Stuart even visited them there in 1821. Lawrence Park dates the Coney portrait about 1815. It was possibly done after the Jefferson and Madison portraits were sent to Bowdoin College, where the judge, an overseer, must have seen them. 1815 seems a suitable date; the judge would have been 63 years old. We know him to have been a vigorous man, which can account for the youthfulness apparent in his face except around the mouth. The painting is executed in oil on a panel. It measures 24 by 28 inches (sight) and is in good condition. Coney is shown half-length, seated in three-quarter view, favoring his right side. He sits in a gilded directoire armchair upholstered in a warm red velvet. His right hand rests on a book; he wears a thin ring on his middle finger. Behind the judge's left arm is a table covered with a cloth of the same color as the velvet. Atop this, two volumes are stacked together on their sides; another stands upright, seemingly supported by the painting's frame, a fourth leans against this volume. The books are bound in light brown with labels of the same red; on one book we can make out the letters "ENNE". Coney is dressed in a simple high-collared black coat, with a white standing collar and neck cloth. He is shown against a background that ranges from pale to dark beige gray. His hair is cut short and combed forward on his forehead. His sideburns and eyebrows have not yet turned white to match the rest of his hair. The judge looks resolutely out at the viewer with blue gray eyes. His mouth is firmly set. 
* PHILIP CURTIS, born 1717, Harvard College 1738. Kept school in Dorchester, and studied Divinity with Rev. Mr. Bowman, of that town. Settled in Sharon, 1742; married, in 1744, Eliza Bass, of Newburyport. Second wife, Eliza Randall of Sharon. He preached to the age of eighty (fifty-five years) without the use of spectacles. His salary was £60 in money, the use of a meadow and his wood. Upon this stipend and a small farm of his own, he brought up a large family, and liberally educated one son. During the war he opened a free school for the parish. Besides this, he fitted students for college and the Hon. Christopher Gore was one of his pupils. After the war, his people proposed to build a new church, and he gave one quarter's salary, with the right of way through his farm, that a nearer road might be opened to the church. Mr. Curtis baptized 926 persons, buried 403, and married 313 couples, during his ministry. Rev. Philip Curtis died in 1797, aged 81. Mrs. Eliza Curtis died November 11, 1823, aged 91. 

Height including center finial 103”; Width 19”; Depth 10”



Call (781) 828-1650 or E-mail us for questions or pricing on this item. Please reference inventory number 15108.

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