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Object Timeline

  • We acquired this object.

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2014

2020

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Box Clock (USA), ca. 1816

This is a Box clock.

This object is not part of the Cooper Hewitt's permanent collection. It was able to spend time at the museum on loan from National Museum of American History as part of Tools: Extending Our Reach.

It is dated ca. 1816. Its medium is wood case with painted dial on glass door, lead weights, paper.

Invented in Europe just before 1300, the mechanical clock was for centuries a rarefied symbol of wealth and power. By the nineteenth century, several Connecticut inventors, including Eli Terry, were producing less expensive timepieces for the growing middle class. But it was Terry who effectively advanced clock making from craft to factory process. Known as the "American system," water-powered machinery mass-produced uniform, interchangeable wooden timepiece parts, rather than expensive brass, In 1816 Terry devised this distinctly American mantel clock, smaller than traditional tall clocks, with a simple wooden box case and a glass door bearing reverse-painted dial numbers. In 1823, after a series of refinements, Terry patented a version of this clock, a wooden, weight-driven, hour-striking device known as the "Connecticut pillar-and-scroll clock.". Terry’s immediate success spawned imitators eager to capture the lower-cost clock market. Low-cost clocks played a significant role in transforming the rural North, setting the industrial revolution in motion.

It is credited Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, 317044.

  • Big Ben Clock, 1931
  • cast metal, glass, blued steel (hands), printed paper.
  • Museum purchase through gift of Neil Sellin.
  • 1999-2-1

Our curators have highlighted 3 objects that are related to this one.

  • Object ID #404536565
  • chromium-plated and enameled metal, molded bakelite, brushed-burnished silver.
  • Gift of George R. Kravis II.
  • 2015-41-1
  • Object ID #18397477
  • brush and gouache, graphite on tracing paper, mounted on white wove paper.
  • 1953-206-1

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 53.3 x 35.6 x 8.9 cm (21 in. x 14 in. x 3 1/2 in.)

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35460321/ |title=Box Clock (USA), ca. 1816 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=6 June 2020 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>