Tick Tock: The Old Year Passes



Clocks may be becoming antiquated artifacts in our current digital age, but New Year’s Eve continues to lend them special significance each year. Clocks also comprise important elements in the collections of historic houses and museums across the state.  This mantle clock from the Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem features Roman-style satyrs flanking the clock’s marble face and suggesting the revelry of a New Year’s celebration. The following sampling of clocks from a variety of North Carolina collections offers a range of design and provenance.




Two clocks from different NC Historic Sites span nearly a century. The museum at Duke Homestead displays the clock on the left as part of a 1950s period room setting with a television that loops cigarette advertisements. Governor Charles B. Aycock marked time with the shelf clock on the right, c. 1861-1880. The piece is now in the exhibit hall at Aycock Birthplace.

Jefcoat clockThe BradyJefcoatMuseum, part of the Murfreesboro Historical Association, houses an interesting piece (right) that multitasks as both a hall tree and a clock.

Ayr Mount clockA tall case clock marks time in the foyer at Ayr Mount (left).  Thomas Emond, a Raleigh clock maker and silversmith, made this piece for William Boylan of Raleigh in the early 19th century.



The NC Museum of History‘s collection also reflects a century of clock evolution and innovation. By the mid-19th century, Northeastern factories produced most clocks. In contrast,this shelf clock dates 1845-1860 and was made in a North Carolina factory, although the factory’s name nods to the more prevalent Connecticut clock-maker.  The label inside reads, “BRASS CLOCKS/ Made and Sold at the/ WATERBURY FACTORY,/ North Carolina,/ for/ Wright & Co./ Warranted, if well used.”



An electric clock radio, also in the NCMOH collection, dates to c. 1950.

GarnerHouseMCHAMooreCountyHAmantleThe Moore County Historical Association displays two similar mid-19th-century shelf clocks. The one in the c. 1790s Garner House (left) sits atop a paneled hearth and the other in the 1820s Shaw House (right) also rests on a mantle.

Penderlea KitchenA small clock helped structure the day and added charm to the 1930s kitchen wall at the Penderlea Homestead.

Historic Salisbury1HistoricSalisbury2Two more mantle clocks grace the 1820 Dr. Josephus Hall House in Salisbury. Both have well preserved reverse-glass paintings. The clock above with turned elements has a landscape scene and the one on the right includes a more geometric gilt design. Decorations for special holiday tours with the theme “Toyland, Toyland,” surround each.

new-bern-clockMore than 10 volunteers spent over a thousand hours restoring the 1911 Seth Thomas clock from the New Bern City Hall tower. The Fireman’s Museum, just down the street from the site the clock operated until 1999, hosted the work in progress. The clock was installed in the North Carolina History Center at Tryon Palace in 2010–in time for New Bern’s 300th anniversary celebration.

The turning of every year warrants some kind of festivity. Have fun counting down the last moments of 2013 and HAPPY NEW YEAR from NC Connecting to Collections!


About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on December 31, 2013, in collections access, historic houses, historic sites, museums and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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