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Dwarf Clock

Gardiner, Barzillai
Place Made:
Charlotte North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
pewter –brass –red pine –paint
HOA 51 1/4; DOA 7 3/8; WOA 10 7/8
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Dwarf clock. Face and movement: Eight day brass clock movement with pewter face; clock face has signature of maker engraved at top with simple engraved scrolling vines on either side; bottom two corners each have an engraved stylized tulip; engraved vines are painted green and engraving in bottom corners is painted red, blue, and yellow; Roman numerals on face are separated with wiggly lines; brass hands terminate in hearts. Case: Made of red pine with painted graining; bonnet has primitive scrolled pediment at top, brass knob on door, and wire hook to secure door; ogee molding between bonnet and waist; waist door is one soild piece of wood which extends the width of the case, but a smaller arched piece is applied to look like a traditional waist door; ogee molding between waist and base; base has simple quarter round molding at foot.

WORKS: This clock is designed to run for one week. The winding drum is much smaller in diameter than a standard height clock so it requires the use of less cord for the 16 revolutions when winding and consequently less weight drop. Unlike most clocks, this clock is made to strike only once per hour rather than a full hour strike. This was probably a cost saving measure.

FORM: This is one of just three known Southern “dwarf” clocks. With a case made of red pine, it is possible that the clock was made in New England and then retained by Gardiner.

MAKER: Barzillai Gardiner (also spelled Gardner) was a Quaker clockmaker and silversmith born May 23, 1778, into the New Garden Monthly Meeting in Guilford County, North Carolina. He was one of 11 children born to Barzillai and Jemima (Macy) Gardiner, who had moved to North Carolina from Nantucket in the early 1770s.

On April 4, 1794, Barzillai was granted a certificate to the York Monthly Meeting in Pennsylvania. This was probably the beginning of his apprenticeship to Jonathan Jessup, a Guilford-County-born clock and watchmaker in York, Pennsylvania. On November 16, 1796, Jessup advertised in the Pennsylvania Herald and York General Advertiser that his apprentice Barzillai Gardiner had runaway. Jessup thought that the youg man was on his way back to North Carolina and described him as having fair hair, walking stiffly, and being five feet eight or nine inches tall. Barzillai apparently had two years, five months, and 24 days left of his apprenticeship at the time of the ad.

Sometime after his return to North Carolina, Gardiner is believed to have married Mary Wilson (b. 1777), the daugheter of William and Eunice (Worth) Wilson of Center Monthly Meeting. The couple had two daughters: Delphina Eliza, born in 1811, and Flora Marzillai in 1814.

On April 21, 1807, Gardiner advertised in the Raleigh Minerva that he had moved to Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, NC, where he had begun the watchmaking, clockmaking, silversmithing and goldsmithing business in parnership with Andrew McBride. He was involved in several real estate transactions in Charlotte in 1812 and 1813.

Barzillai Gardiner died in late 1815, and his loose estate papers were filed in the February court term, 1816, in Mecklenburg County. Included in the inventory of his belongings was “1 Chest of Clock & Watch Tools his own” valued at $128.25, the most costly item on his inventory. By 1817 Gardiner’s wife and two daughters were in the Alamance County area, being received into the Cane Creek Meeting. Around 1817, Mary (Wilson) Gardiner married the widower John Long (b. 1761), who was a member of Cane Creek.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund