Robert C. Cheney of Brimfield, Massachusetts is a third-generation clockmaker and a nationally recognized authority on early American clocks. He has served as a conservator and consultant for nearly fifty museums including Old Sturbridge Village, Worcester Art Museum, The American Antiquarian Society, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and has served on the Boards of the National Watch and Clock Museum, the American Clock and Watch Museum and the Willard House and Clock Museum.
As the most complicated trade in 18th century America, clock making relied heavily on a finely divided shop structure to produce domestic timekeepers. Cabinetmakers, carvers, gilders, dial makers, painters and at least seventeen different metal-working trades all joined forces to capture the fervor of nouveau riche Americans to mimic fine English interiors with locally produced furniture, silver, portraiture and clocks to fill elegant new homes.
Previous scholarship by this speaker has documented a little known, but extensive trade in Liverpool and Birmingham goods to supply Willard and others with most of the materials and components needed to fill the needs of an emerging American market. This talk will widen the importance of Liverpool and Birmingham for American clock production and discuss how Willard began to recreate English methodology in Boston by 1800.
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