Tall Case Clock


For John Fessler Sr. (1759-1820)

Frederick, Maryland


Circa 1800

H: 101.5”; W: 22.75”; D: 10.5”


John Fessler was born in Switzerland in 1759 and immigrated with his parents to America in 1771, first living in Philadelphia, then Germantown, and then Lancaster, where it was likely he apprenticed in the  clockmaking trade.  From 1777-1782 he fought as a private in the Revolutionary Army.  After the War, Fessler settled in Frederick, married a local girl, Elizabeth Bach the same year and in 1783 he opened a clock making and silversmithing business at the corner of W. Patrick and Publick (now Court) Streets.  He was a skilled and prolific clockmaker who enjoyed a career spanning more than thirty years which  included a partnership with his son, John Jr between 1817 and 1820.

Fessler clocks are known for their first rate movements. This clock has an iron painted dial with American shields in the spandrels, a moon dial and four hands – second, minute, hour and date. Clock conservator Doug Whitesell has cleaned and restored the classic Fessler works to running order.

The walnut case is a particularly fine example of Frederick area cabinetmaking.  The substantial stock used for the case, the internal blocking, the unusual through tenons in the waist and base stile construction and the proportions of the case suggest a cabinetmaker trained in German cabinetmaking traditions.  The sturdy case has withstood the test of time – the case is completely original, including the finials.




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Christopher H. Jones Antiques

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