Pillar & Scroll

by Philip C. Gregory, with National Watch and Clock Museum Curator Carter Harris, NAWCC Director of Education Katie Knaub, Guest Curators Terry Brotherton and George Goolsby. Funding by Terry Brotherton, George Goolsby, and San Jacinto Chapter 139 (NAWCC Exhibit, November 2006).
6" x 9" softcover, 98 pages, and 115 color photos.

Eli Terry revolutionized the Connecticut clockmaking industry in the nineteenth century with his ingenious mass production method and interchangeable parts. He did the impossible—fulfilled the Porter brothers’ contract to produce 4,000 clocks in three years. Terry built precision machine tools, which required gauges for measuring and jigs and fixtures to ensure repeatability. The woods used for the movements were all local: oak for the plates, cherry for the wheels, and laurelwood for the pinions. Peddlers who traveled to distant areas (e.g., southern United States) were the chief means of distributing the clocks. Seth Thomas, a joiner who put the clocks together, worked with Terry.
Terry experimented with several movement models. Many clockmakers imitated Terry’s pillar and scroll style. Women and girls participated in this cottage industry by painting clock dials and reverse painting clock tablets. These were some of the most beautiful timepieces ever created.
By 1838 the introduction of Jeromes’ inexpensive 30-hour brass movement marked the end of the wooden shelf clock business in Connecticut.