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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Chauncey Jerome and His Clock

The Jerome stamped-brass clock was the fruit of a business depressionthe Panic of 1837. It was the result of a frenzied casting about for a product that could be made and sold for a price low enough for the public to buy. The Terry wooden-movement timepieces had been the popular and moderately priced clocks for a quarter of a century but not only were they now beyond the reach of the average citizen but their wooden mechanisms were apt to be affected adversely by the weather.

Chauncey Jerome (1793-1860) was a former employee of Eli Terry, making clock cases. In the 1820's he had formed a partnership with his brother Noble, an excellent movement maker, and Elijah Darrow. They produced wooden-works clocks, along with other Connecticut craftsmen, including a "looking glass" type that was very popular until the bad year of 1837.

With many of these clocks still in stock and realizing that they would not sell, Jerome got the idea of a cheaper movement of stamped brass. His brother Noble went to work on it and perfected the movement in a short time. Inexpensive, accurate, and dependable, it at once superseded the temperamental wooden-works clock, made a fortune for its inventor and put a clock in every household that had three dollars to spare. The case was purely functional. Box-like, its front had the ogee molding in crotch-grain mahogany veneer of the current American Empire style. It framed a two-glassed paneled door, the upper part plain glass to protect the dial; the lower one decorated with a painted design, either Floral or pictorial.

The clock Which is of the type patented by Jerome and has a label on the inside of the door which reads: "J.J.U Beals Clock Establishment, Corner of Hanover and Blackstone Streets, also at 422 Washington Street, Boston." This firm was listed at these locations in the Boston Directory only in 1846. They were probably dealers rather than clockmakers. The painted decoration was a popular one at the time and is of historic interest now.

"Croton Fountain" in New York's City Hall park was a visible sign of the city's much improved water supply, with two reservoirs, one in what is now Central Park and the other where the Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street now stands. Completed in 1842, it took the place of the dug wells, springs, and ponds on which New York City had previously depended.

The Jerome clocks still keep good time and, while they bring a price many times their original one, are among the moderately inexpensive antiques. Those with the ogee case are earlier and more desirable than the steeple type which came in with the Victorian years.

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