Daniel Rose: A Reading Clockmaker

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Portrait of Daniel Rose  by Jacob Witman (1769-1795) from the BHC Museum Collection

Born in 1749, Daniel Rose of Reading became a talented watch & clock maker capable of building musical mechanisms that few in America could rival. He also sold and repaired clocks, watches, and jewelry in addition to musical instruments. In 1775, Rose instructed the drummers and fifers of the 1st Battalion of the Berks County militia. The following year, he joined the Committee of Safety in Reading, and in 1777, was appointed a captain in the militia. He served in the State Legislature from 1799 -1804, 1806 – 1808 and 1811-1812. Rose even opened his own museum in Reading in his home on Penn Street. He was also a talented musician. At the time of his death in 1827, Rose owned two organs, a piano, clarinet, hautboy (oboe), bassoon, flute and a French horn.

The Berks History Center Museum is home to several Rose tall case clocks and a full length portrait of the famous clockmaker. In the portrait, Daniel Rose is depicted as a dashing figure wearing his double-breasted coat and red silk vest by Jacob Witman. His hair is cut short and brushed forward in a style that became fashionable in the late 1790s. Rose is wearing an extensive amount of jewelry, which was all in the height of male fashion at the time, including oval knee buckles, steel cut shoe buckles, and a gold ring. Four musical instruments are also included in the portrait: a violin, flute, clarinet, and square piano. Look carefully at the piano to see where the artist, Jacob Whitman, cleverly painted his own name instead of that of the instrument maker.

Scholla: The Reed Clock Dated 1704 June 15, 1943

The Reed Clock Dated 1704    June 15, 1943

Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago a huge time-piece began to tick off the minutes and hours; these grew to days, months, years and decades. Two centuries passed; wars began and ended; the Duke of Marlboro, Frederick the Great, Napoleon and others flitted their little once on this troubled planet; American was born, grew to titanic strength and girded herself to bring her light of liberty to a war torn world, and still the Reed family clock in Stouchsburg ticked on and on. Today it is still marking the mortal’s concept of time, ticking away the minutes and striking the hours as it has done for generation after generation of the descendants of Leonhart Reed, Tulpehocken pioneer.

Proud of his handiwork, Jacob Gorgas, clockmaker, inscribed his name and the date in the brass face of the clock. There is no mistaking the figures which spell out 1704, an ancient date indeed for any relic in America.

We cannot help but wonder whether there is another object in all America of greater antiquity, still performing the purpose for which it was originally designed.

In addition to his name and the date, the craftsman cut scrolls into each corner of the metal face of the clock and flowers are depicted in the field which forms between the numerals. The clock does not show a moon, as many of the old grandfather’s clocks do, but the date of the month is shown.

The huge case of the clock is made of solid walnut wood and the pieces are joined by wooden pegs. The time-piece stands seven and a half feet high.

The present owners of the clock are Mr. and Mrs. John Reed, of Stouchsburg. Mrs. Reed as well as her husband is a lineal descendant of the early Reeds of Tulpehocken. The clock came into their possession through Mrs. Reed’s parents, Frank B. Reed, and his wife. These people, in turn, inherited the clock from their parents, John S. Reed. The complete line of ownership is not known exactly, but it is known that the relic stood in the original Reed homestead near Stouchsburg, as long as the memory of man and tradition can establish. It was removed from the old homestead in 1908.