Federal Antique Tall Case Clock, Pennsylvania, Emanuel Meily c. 1820


Signed "Emanuel Meyli, Lebanon", c. 1820

Item # 1402PXG15PV

This is a truly remarkable work, surviving in as close to an untouched state as is practically possible. It retains an original grimy and oxidized finish, deeply patinated and worn throughout without any evidence of touch up or refinish. The crest is almost Gothic in it's appeal, a pair of stepped waves cresting on either side to a half-dome capital with four turned cone finials raised over reeded plinths that stretch through the crest to a half-round molding framing the top. The tombstone glazed door is flanked by a pair of bobbin-turned columns, the dial door opening to showcase a white painted dial signed "Emanuel Meyli, Lebanon" in the center. The spandrels are fine painted "Rising Sun" motifs, encircling the gold ring framing the Arabic numeral minute ring, Roman numeral hour ring and Arabic numeral calendar aperture on the innermost edge, these pointed to by highly attractive and complex pierced iron hands. The lunette is detailed with a moon-phase, the four scenes depicting (1) a Ship at Sea, (2) a moon, (3) a genre scene of a countryside home, (4) the final moon face, these over the pair of hemisphere maps.

The works are original and reside on the untouched original seatboard, this inscribed in graphite "AJ7-70", "45" and the underside inscribed in two areas - probably notes on when it was cleaned. The brass pallets are arched and well cast. The false plate is not marked and no impressions are visible on the movement.

The hood is completed in a reeded molding mirrored beneath the shaft molding. The pendulum door is crested with three pointed crests, the inlaid shield escutcheon a seeming completion of any of these three forms, opening on original hinges to reveal a clean interior, the pair of weights and pendulum. The corners of the shaft are embellished with turned bobbin columns. The base is made up of deeply chamfered cherry panels set in grooves of the tenon-mortised base framing, the whole terminating over turned ball feet.

Below is an excerpt from Revealing the Unique History of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, Clockmakers (Randy Jaye), published in the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors "Watch and Clock Bulletin" May/June 2013 edition, p. 245:

Emanuel Meily Sr. (also spelled Miley and Meyli) (1776-1851) was born on July 14, 1776 to Samuel and Amelia Catherine Meily. He and his father are known to have been in business in the Market Square area in Lebanon (South 9th Street) where they bartered various goods including clocks. There are many known Lebanon County tall case clocks with Emanuel’s name signed on the dial. He lived his entire life in Lebanon and also served as the Lebanon County Treasurer from 1832 to 1834. Many tall case clocks built by Emanuel Meily feature a definite Germanic style that was popular in Pennsylvania during and before his time. The similarity of his clock making style as compared to Samuel Meily, his father, demonstrates that the clock making trade was passed from one generation to the next in their family. Emanuel Meily Sr. died in Lebanon, PA on April 13, 1851.

His work is noted briefly in Pennsylvania Clocks and Clockmakers: An Epic of Early American Science, Industry and Craftsmanship (Eckhardt, 1955, p. 218) under the name Emanuel Miley of Lebanon, noting him as a craftsman of clocks as well as quilts and coverlets in the region, upon which his name is found. The Book of American Clocks (Palmer, 1959, p. 241) notes him as Emanuel Meily, active around 1810. The present example is signed on the dial Meyli, a third variation of his name. It would seem the proper or accepted spelling is "Meily, as indicated by the 1895 obituary of Samuel S. Meily, noted as the son of Emanuel Meily (Lebanon Daily News, February 11th, 1895). Very few clocks by Meily make their way to market, the last of public record a rather plain refinished clock by Meily sold at auction by Wiederseim Associates, Inc. February 24th, 2007 for $9,520 (lot 406, inc. premium).

In every way exceeding expectations of the most discerning collector, this museum quality example is preserved in it's original state. An unusual form and striking in every way, this precious investment grade example will certainly be the hightlight of a serious collection.

Measurements: 96 1/8" high x 19 1/16" wide x 10 1/2" deep

Condition Report: Retains it's original finish - finish has light "blooming" in some areas (whitish discoloration), loss, abrasions, chips and wear. Overall the surface is absolutely spectacular. Bottom edge of reeding on hood has two areas of small patching. Underside of clock has had the base board removed. Dial in good condition, the varnish yellowed and some fading - moon phase has some chipping and inpainting, as visible in the images. Works are untested, dusty and will need to be professionally serviced - however, they seem to be complete. The upper backboard has been removed and re-nailed due to shrinking along the grains - it is the original board. Untouched and free of any noteworthy restoration: works, seatboard, hinges, lock and key, feet, finials - all are fully original and untouched other than four replaced screws in the hinges (four original hand cut screws remain). Exceptional condition.

Item ID: 1402PXG15PV

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