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    Follow the Stories | Providence, Rhode Island (2005)

    What Makes This Clock Tick?


    Posted: 5.8.2006

    clock, appraiser and owner

    Roadshow guest Coulter with his Gothic-inspired world globe clock and appraiser John Delaney.

    the clock

    This rare world globe clock is said to have been made by LaPorte Hubbell of Forestville, Connecticut.

    close up of the globe

    Though still legible, the globe could use a careful cleaning.

    close up of the gold sun decoration

    The gilded ball decorating the top section of the clock resembles a sun with rays shining down on the globe.

    At the 2005 Roadshow in Providence, Rhode Island, I met a guest named Coulter who had traveled from southwest Connecticut to have his clock evaluated. In the course of our conversation Coulter mentioned that he owns several other clocks, but this one in particular interested him because of its unusual form and features. He said a family member once told him that the clock had been built for a Masonic lodge, but he hope to find out more about it.

    In the current horological literature, this rare "World Globe Clock" is said to have been made by LaPorte Hubbell of Forestville, Connecticut. In the last 30 years, very few of these world globe clocks have surfaced in the public marketplace or in the horological literature. There is, however, a similar clock that we see more frequently. It was made in Saratoga Springs, New York, and is called a Timby's Solar Time-Piece. This version must have been manufactured in far greater numbers by L. E. Whiting. Whiting advertised that his clocks were the "Best made in America and unsurpassed in Europe ... making it an excellent timekeeper. ..." It is thought that this company was in business in 1863 and lasted only two short years. It is also thought that in that time they produced approximately 600 clocks, because many of them are numbered. To my knowledge, a Timby's solar time-piece bearing a number over 600 has not yet been discovered. Interestingly, a number of these clocks used LaPorte Hubbell movements. These solar clocks were marketed to "Geographical Educators for the School room and the family." It is said to have appealed to the prosperous transient population of Saratoga.

    Appraiser John Delaney unwinds with the Providence Globe clock

    In comparing Coulter's world globe clock to the Timby examples, Coulter's clock is unusual in many respects. 1) The case exhibits strong Gothic influences in its form and design. Note the repetition of the arches exhibited throughout this example. 2) The design of the case is far more complex than those of Timby clocks. 3) This clock indicates the time, hours and minutes in two separate locations. 4) Both clocks are fitted with terrestrial globes that are automated. (This last is a feature shared with very few if any other American-made clocks of this period.) Lastly, Coulter's globe clock is in very good, unrestored condition. A talented clock repairman and cabinet woodworker could restore this clock quite easily, which would greatly enhance its present value.

    This clock stands approximately 27 inches tall. Its case is constructed in walnut and retains its original surface, which, as I said, is in need of attention. The case sits on an applied molding that is ornately formed. The lower section of this clock is fitted with a brass movement. The movement is a LaPorte Hubble design. It incorporates a balance wheel escapement and two springs that are designed to drive the clock and globe mechanism for eight days on a full wind. It is wound through the lower dial with a key. This dial is painted on tin in a traditional format. The time is indicated with a minute and an hour hand against a Roman-numeral time ring. This dial can be viewed through a door that is fitted with glass and trimmed with a gilt ring. The dial is also accessed through this door.

    The middle section of the case is fitted with a globe assembly. The globe actually rotates a complete revolution once every 24 hours. The globe features a Joslin label, which reads, "Joslin's Six Inch Terrestrial Globe, Containing The Latest Discoveries. Boston. Gilman Joslin, 1860." The condition of the globe is somewhat dirty and could stand a careful cleaning, though in its present state, it is legible. Attached to the globe along its meridian is a time ring. The ring is divided into two 12-hour segments. If set correctly, the time of day can be read as indicated by the brass arrow pointer mounted to the case.

    The upper section of the clock is decorated with various moldings and Gothic forms. Centered above the globe is a ball some say represents the sun shining down on the Earth. The sun itself is gilded, as are the numerous rays that emit from it. Four drop finials hang from the upper molding. The two located at the outside edges of the clock are fully turned. The center finial, which surmounts the case, is original to this clock. It is quite complex and appears to have been made from a single piece of wood. Originally this clock was also fitted with two additional finials of the same form. They would have been made a little smaller in scale. In addition, two simple adornments would have been positioned on the outside molding above the drops.

    LaPorte Hubbell was born in Bristol, Connecticut, on December 5, 1824, and died on September 4, 1889. He was the son of William Hubbell and Juliann Botsford. He served his clock apprenticeship with Thomas Fuller of the firm Birge & Fuller, and was a skilled mechanic. He became a large-scale manufacturer and supplied many clock companies with movements. He specialized in movements that featured balance-wheel escapements. Over the course of his career he was involved with several firms, including Hendrick, Hubbell & Co. (1849 - 1852); Hubbell & Beach (1859 - 1863); L. Hubbell & Son (1874 - 1879); The Globe Clock Company of Milldale, Connecticut (1877). In his latter years Hubbell's entire output was made for F. Kroeber of New York.

    See the Providence, Rhode Island (2006) page for a list of all appraisals from this city.

    More ANTIQUES ROADSHOW articles from the Clocks & Watches category:
    All in Good Time (Reno, 2005)

    John Delaney is a Roadshow appraiser and owner of Delaney Antique Clocks in West Townsend, Massachusetts.

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