Collections › MESDA Collection › Tall Case Clock

Tall Case Clock

Fessler, John
Place Made:
Frederick Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
walnut –yellow pine –poplar –oak
HOA:102 1/2; WOA at Finials:24
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Tall case clock; painted face with moon dial; two weight movement; the case with broken arch top decorated with leaf-carved rosettes and dentil molding, surmounted by three carved urn-and-flame twist finials, the center mounted upon a carved plinth; the waist and base decorated with brass-capped, fluted quarter columns and a flat arched door; the whole supported on ogee bracket feet.

STYLE: The influence of Delaware Valley style is evident in this tall-case clock form. The fluted quarter columns and colonettes, with their brass bases and capitals, broken scroll pediment, and carved rosettes, keystone, and flame finials are details that occur frequently on Philadelphia clock cases of the mid-eighteenth century. Although the quality of the carving is well below Philadelphia work of the period, it is related to carving on other western Maryland case pieces.

INSCRIPTION: on clock face “John Fessler” “Frederick Town”

MAKER: John Fessler (1759-1820) was born in Switzerland but migrated with his family as a young child to Pennsylvania. Growing up in Lancaster, John probably apprenticed there as a clockmaker. He served in continental forces during the American Revolution, and after the war, worked in Frederick from 1782 until his death. Fessler works are found in a variety of cases from western Maryland, ranging from simple, painted pine examples to elaborately carved and ornamented cases like the one in MESDA’s collection. From 1817 to until 1820, he worked under the business name of John Fessler & Son in partnership with his son, John Fessler Jr. (1787-1869).

Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton