Shelf Clock, c. 1886
In 1879, the Welch, Spring & Company was preparing to introduce a new timepiece which in time would become one of the most famous and highly collectible American clocks ever made. The design for the rosewood case, patented by Solomon C. Spring, was such that minor alterations in the top would enable a variety of styles to be produced. In the case description of his 1879 patent, #215,708, Spring stated that he believed this new design to be effective both in terms of cost and labor. The details found in the individual components of the case, the assembly construction, and the hand-rubbed finish all proved to hamper the goal of economy. In the end, it became one of the most expensive ventures in clock production, eventually bringing about the downfall of the Welch, Spring and Company. After the company dissolved in 1885, production was taken over by the E. N. Welch Manufacturing Company.
Spring's case design came to be called the Patti, in honor of the great operatic prima donna, Adelina Patti (1843-1919). Widely acclaimed throughout the world, Patti was the superstar of her day. Glamour and talent made her the toast of three continents and one of the highest paid performers in the history of opera. Born in Madrid, she traveled to the United States as a child, performing in New York at the age of seven and making her operatic debut in 1859. Renowned for her pure voice and beauty, Patti achieved fame in such rolls as Rosina in The Barber of Seville and Zerlina in The Marriage of Figaro. Her private life provided fodder for the press and high society gossip. Scandal only seemed to heighten her fame and provided ever-important publicity. Her long career ended with her retirement at the age of seventy-one, having maintained her voice throughout sixty-three years of performances. The movement of this particular clock is one manufactured by E. N. Welch between 1885 and 1889. It has the "floating" mainspring barrels and club tooth escapement patented by Benjamin B. Lewis. It differs from the earlier versions of the movement by having solid pinions in place of lantern pinions, a suspension spring instead of a clevis suspension, and is stamped with the name "E. N. Welch Manufacturing Company" on the back plate.
Donated by NAWCC Colorado Chapter #21
October 21, 2005
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