Closeup of face, tall case clock. Movement: William Claggett, Newport, Rhode Island, circa 1740. Case: unidentified maker, Newport, Rhode Island, circa 1765, mahogany, chestnut, white pine; brass, iron, steel and lead, Museum Purchase, 1972-36
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Although it is common today for most people to own a personal timepiece, in centuries past it was not so. Marking time to the exact minute was a new innovation during the late 17th century, and the development of the tall case clock helped to make that possible. Until the early 19th century, only the wealthy could afford these expensive timepieces. Average people had little need for the precision these devices provided, relying instead on the location of the sun in the sky, sundials or public clocks to know the hour. As society became more dependent on time regulation, clocks became more necessary and innovations made them more attainable. How these timepieces evolved, were made and used will be explored in Keeping Time: Tall Case Clocks, a new exhibition of more than 20 tall case clocks from different regions spanning more than a century of timekeeping. Opening on November 14, 2020, in the Iris and Mark Coblitz Gallery at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, one of the newly expanded Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, the exhibition will remain on view through December 31, 2022.