Black, Starr and Frost is considered the oldest known jewelry house in America first founded as Maquand and Paulding in 1801. They were one of the few American retailers invited to display at the London Crystal Palace Exposition in 1851 and eventually went on to establish offices in Paris. Their 1939 exhibit at the New York World's Fair displayed large sculptural jewelry and objects d'art.
The present Art Deco desk clock is an example of timepieces the firm produced during the 1920's and 1930s. The design could have been inspired by work from Carl Faberge who was commissioned by Tsar Alexander III to create an Easter Egg as a surprise for the empress. Over the next 30 years the Faberge workshops created approximately 50 more eggs for the royal family, each with different surprise element with some having a built in timepiece. Firms like Black, Starr and Frost would have been aware of these gems and used the design to create their own works of arts which they could then retail to their own clientele like the Vanderbilt and Carnegie families.