Dial signed by Jacob Godschalk (c.1735-1781), Philadelphia, 1765-1775
The dial signed Jacob Godschalk Philadelphia. The outer finials with their original flames.
101½ in. high, 22 3/8 in. wide, 12½ in. deep
Purchased from Joe Kindig, Jr. & Son, York, Pennsylvania, 1986
Patricia E. Kane, "Living with Antiques: A Saint Louis couple collects," The Magazine Antiques (May 2002), p. 116, pl. VII.
St. Louis, Missouri, The Saint Louis Art Museum, Useful Beauty: Early American Decorative Arts from St. Louis Collections, June 19-August 15, 1999 (no. 32 in accompanying catalogue by David H. Conradsen).

Lot Essay

With its arched brass dial housed in an elaborate and richly carved case, this tall-case clock illustrates the height of Philadelphia Rococo craftsmanship and the collaboration of a clockmaker, cabinetmaker and specialist carver, each a master of his craft. The dial is signed by Jacob Godschalk (d. 1781), a clockmaker who worked in Towamencin Township (then part of Philadelphia County, now in Montgomery County) before moving to Philadelphia in the 1760s. He is recorded in a 1769 tax list for the city, with his shop located on Arch Street, between Second and Third Streets. In 1770, he married Elizabeth Owen, a widow whose son, Griffith Owen, apprenticed to his step-father before establishing his own business. During the Revolutionary War, Godschalk served as a lieutenant before he died in 1781 (see Rudolph P. Hommel, "Jacob Godschalk of Towamencin and Philadelphia, Clockmaker," Bulletin of the Historical Society of Montgomery County (October 1945); Edwin A. Battison and Patricia E. Kane, The American Clock, 1725-1865 (Greenwich, CT, 1973), pp. 118-119, cat. 25). Two other clocks bearing his dials and movements indicate that he often provided dials for Philadelphia's leading woodworkers. The first, with a brass dial engraved Towamencin, was made for John Bringhurst and is embellished with appliqué attributed to the craftsman known as the Garvan carver. The second, with a white-painted dial marked Philadelphia, has a case labeled by George Pickering (d. 1784) and carving attributed to John Pollard (1740-1787) (see Sotheby's New York, Highly Important Americana from the Collection of Stanley Paul Sax, January 16-17, 1998, lot 519; Sotheby's New York, Masterpieces from the Time Museum part two, June 19, 2002, lot 139; Lita Solis-Cohen, "Godshalk Clock in the Pickering Case," Maine Antique Digest (October 2002). As seen on the engraved dials, Godschalk spelled his name both with and without a "c" ("sch" being the Germanic style) and as stated by Rudolph P. Hommel, he dropped the "c" upon moving to Philadelphia. However, as this clock illustrates, he retained the older spelling while in Philadelphia though its use here may indicate the clock was made soon after he relocated.

According to The 1772 Philadelphia Furniture Price Book, the walnut case of this clock was among the more expensive models available. With a "scroll pediment head," "column corners," "roses and blazes [rosettes and flame finials]," a case of this type was priced at L8 (including or plus L3 5 shillings for labor). Besides the movement, the customer would have also paid extra for the tympanum carving and glazing (see Prices of Cabinet and Chair work (Philadelphia, 1772), p. 26 as re-printed in Alexandra Alevizatos Kirtley, The 1772 Philadelphia Furniture Price Book: An Introduction and Guide (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2005). An almost identical case most likely from the same cabinet shop is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (fig. 1). Both display similar flames, rosettes with cross-hatched centers and double tier of surrounding petals, upright scrolled moldings in the pediment, ogee moldings above and below the waisted case, the same shaping on the top of the case door, quarter-columns, the same applied base panels with outset corners and closely related feet. Whereas this clock is made of walnut, that in fig. 1 is mahogany, which for this model would have cost an additional L3 as listed in the 1772 price book. Other clock cases probably from this shop include an examples on loan to the State Department and in the collection of the Chipstone Foundation, the latter with carving attributed to Martin Jugiez (Alexandra W. Rollins, "Furniture in the collection of the Dietrich American Foundation," The Magazine Antiques (May 1984), p. 1110; Luke Beckerdite and Alan Miller, "A Table's Tale: Craft, Art, and Opportunity in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia," American Furniture 2004, Luke Beckerdite, ed. (Milwaukee, WI, 2004), p. 25, figs. 42-42; see also, Morrison H. Heckscher, American Furniture: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles (New York, 1985), pp. 307-309, cat. 199).

Consisting of an array of C-scrolls and carved "raffle leaves," the appliqué on the tympanum is based upon London designs of the late 1750s and early 1760s, such those by Thomas Johnson and the partnership of William Ince and John Mayhew. The particular layout of the design, framed by four outward-facing C-scrolls on top and two pairs of opposing scrolls along the bottom, is seen on several other clocks including that in fig. 1 and one advertised by Herbert Schiffer Antiques (The Magazine Antiques (July 1977), inside back cover). Similar motifs were used extensively by Hercules Courtenay, John Pollard and Martin Jugiez, all of whom immigrated to Philadelphia in the early 1760s (see Luke Beckerdite, "Philadelphia carving shops, part III: Hercules Courtenay and his school," The Magazine Antiques (May 1987), p. 1047, fig. 1e; the Van Pelt high chest with carving now attributed to Pollard, Joseph Downs, American Furniture: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods (New York, 1952), no. 195; the tall-case clock with Jugiez-attributed carving cited above, Beckerdite and Miller, fig. 41). Though not the work of one of these carvers, the appliqué on this clock was executed by a trained carver familiar with their designs.

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