Watches n’ Such

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WNS-CLK-168 - Bowers - Kirrymuir - Moon Phase Dial - Building View

WNS-CLK-168 - Jon Bower - Kirrymuir - 1795 Tall Case Clock - Dial View

John Bower - Scottish Clockmaker - Tall Case Clock - (circa 1811)


John Bower was a clockmaker known to be in business in Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland, from 1790 to around 1825. He specialized in tallcase (grandfather) clocks. Scottish publications cataloging antique clocks and clockmakers offer little information about him other than he was known to have been in business in Kirriemuir in 1802 and that he operated a business on High Street in Kirriemuir in 1825. It is known that Bower made the entire tallcase clock (movement and case), unlike most of his contemporaries who usually ordered the case from a local cabinetmaker. However, it is likely that he purchased the dials and had his signature hand-painted on them. The weights, pendulums, and assorted iron parts that Bower used in his clocks are likely to have been made in a nearby blacksmith shop in Kinnordy, Scotland. It is also known that he manufactured clocks in kit form that he sold to be self-assembled by his customers.


The clock’s dial is signed “Jon Bower, Kirrymuir.” The case measures 87-1/2” tall; the base, 9" x 17"; and the trunk, 7" x 12-3/4". The clock is in exceptionally good cosmetic and mechanical condition for its age and runs well and keeps excellent time.


The dial fits snuggly into the case with no gaps, and all markings are centered and visible, which indicate the case is original to the clock. The case is made from solid mahogany wood with veneer work around the hood and trunk. The case door is long and slender (8-1/2" x 35-1/2") with an arch-shaped top. The swan neck pediments, brass hardware column capitals, scrolls, and brass eagle center finial are typical of early case work of the period from 1770 to 1800. The pendulum (Figure 8) is made of a wire rod attached to the bob, which is made of lead with a brass front (a common practice in the late 1700s to the early 1800s). The cast-iron false plate is marked “Walker & Finnemore.” Walker and Finnemore were in business together from 1808 to 1811. They branched off independently after 1811, and both became major Birmingham false plate and dial makers. This was made possible because two firms, Wilson and Osbourne, who dominated the Birmingham false plate- and dial-making market from 1778, halted operations (James Wilson died in 1809 and the Osbourne firm went out of business in 1813). After reviewing all my information, I knew this clock was made sometime in the late 1790s to the early 1800s.


Considering the information about the manufacture date of this clock’s false plate, it was possible to determine that this clock was made circa 1808–1811.


Item ID: WNS-CLK-168

John Bower - Tall Case Clock - Made in
Kirrymuir, Scotland  - (circa 1811)

WNS-CLK-168 - Jon Bowers - Kirrymuir - Brass Eagle Finial View

WNS-CLK-168 - Jon Bowers - Kirrymuir - Dial Close Up View

WNS-CLK-168 - Jon Bowers - Kirrymuir - Full Front View with Door Open

WNS-CLK-168 - Jon Bowers - Kirrymuir - Full Front View

WNS-CLK-168 - Jon Bowers - Kirrymuir - Hood - Top Front View

WNS-CLK-168 - Jon Bowers - Kirrymuir - Left Side Movement View

WNS-CLK-168 - Jon Bowers - Kirrymuir - Moon Phase Dial - Clipper Ship View

WNS-CLK-168 - Jon Bowers - Kirrymuir - Moon Phase Dial - Moon Face 1 View

WNS-CLK-168 - Jon Bowers - Kirrymuir - Pendulum View

WNS-CLK-168 - Jon Bowers - Kirrymuir - Right Side Movement View

WNS-CLK-168 - Jon Bowers - Kirrymuir - Weights View

WNS-CLK-168 - Jon Bowers - Kirrymuir - Left Side Movement View

Read my published article “Acknowledging Scottish Clockmaker John Bower (1761-ca. 1830)”