Antique American Clocks July 2020
Asa Munger “Stovepipe” shelf clock, 1834. I can find five examples of this model, this being the sixth. The “stovepipes” are the columns on each side, made of sheet iron and elaborately painted; I believe these have been professionally repainted. The elongated round weights are compounded and hang from pulleys at the top of the case. There are carved ornaments and capitals, a carved crest, and two pineapple finials. The door over the dial opens to give access to the movement from the front; there is also a tin cover over an opening on the back. Nonetheless, access is difficult, including threading the cord over the pulleys (the pulleys do not match – the original one is pewter, the replacement has spokes). The lower door is often a single mirror; here it is two eglomise paintings protected by a wooden cover. Both images are original as best Lee Davis and I can tell and are quite unusual for a Munger stovepipe clock. Lee replaced the peeling background and secured the upper image of a young woman; she appears to be holding a letter with a slightly forlorn look on her face. The lower, somewhat primitive image was also stabilized and shows a farmhouse with two children playing and a horse rider speaking to someone by the door. The metal dial is mounted on the brass 8-day time-and-strike movement; it has the Munger trademark seconds hand (literally), but the dial does not show a signature or even the remains of one; it appears to have not been stamped with Munger’s familiar logo, perhaps because it was made by Munger & Benedict, as suggested below. The winding drums are pewter; note the date 1834 on bell hammer. The hands appear to be original, the dial glass is not. The weights are proper, the flying eagle pendulum, also a Munger trademark, is very old and worn. The label is a photocopy of what should be there on top of the wallpaper dust cover, the remnants of which can be seen at the top of the opening. The wooden ring that holds the right stovepipe in place is broken, has been glued, and will need more. The clock runs without problem, striking the bell over the movement on the hours. It is 40 inches tall and 19.5 inches wide. This clock was included in a 1966 article in the NAWCC Bulletin on Munger clocks by the late Freeman McMillan, in which he describes it as “the only one with painted tablets instead of a mirror in the lower door.” McMillan suggests it is a Munger & Benedict clock. Three recent sales of stovepipe clocks on LiveAuctioneers for $9000, $17,000, and $34,000. $8,000-$12,000.
Thanks to Russ Oechsle for the tip on the NAWCC article!