This remarkable clock with vibrant mahogany case and vividly decorated dial was produced by Martin Shreiner Sr. (1769-1866). Martin was born in Lancaster, and may have learned clockmaking from John Eberman, also of Lancaster. He opened his shop in 1791, placing an advertisement in the Lancaster Zeitung on 27 July. Shreiner numbered his dials, giving concrete evidence of his large output. The highest number reported is 431. In 1830, as less expensive Connecticut-made clocks entered the market, Shreiner turned his clock business over to his sons and turned his attention to building and repairing fire engines and to building an orrery. His sons eventually joined him in the manufacture of fire pumpers, which became the principal family business. Martin was the first of three successive generations of Shreiner clockmakers, including his son Martin and grandson Henry M. Shreiner.
This finely executed mahogany case has vibrant grain and impressive proportions. The hood features a scrolled and molded crest set with turned 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 front and rear turned and tapered colonnettes with brass capitals and bases. The glazed dial door opens to a wonderfully painted iron dial of American manufacture.
The extraordinary dial remains in terrific original condition and features among the most vivid decorations of any American clock dial. The dial has 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 bold Arabic numerals to demark the hour and an outer ring of Arabic numerals to demark the minutes. The dial is framed by vibrant spandrels with gilt scrolls and a bright red sunburst all on a mustard ground. A similar band encircles the dial register.
The dial is fitted with a four hands of the center arbor, which are gilded and engraved. In addition to hour and minute hands, there is a sweep seconds and a sweep calendar hands. These desirable features are common on better Pennsylvania clocks. The dial is signed with the makers name, locale and production number above the center arbor in a mixture of elaborate old world calligraphy and block letters “Martin Shreiner / Lancaster / No. 181”. The signature is in original condition. 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. The waist has champhered sides flanking a rectangular pendulum door with semi-circular cut outs at the top edge. This hinged door has a brass lock surround and an original iron lock. The door is set with a single dramatically grained flitch of mahogany. The waist transitions to the base section with another broad flared molding. The base also has champhered sides, flanking a vibrant mahogany panel of diagonal cross grained veneers surrounding a crotch grained oval. A simple bead molding transitions to a lobbed apron and delicate flared French feet.
Dimensions: Height including center finial 101”; Width 22 ½”; Depth 10 ½”