SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - Central Jersey auctioneer Joe Bodnar received an email last month reading “The Barnes family clock needs to find a new home.”
Nearly 200 years old, built and crafted in New Jersey by a respected colonial-era clockmaker, the tall case clock will be sold by Bodnar as part of a two-day, 500 lot online auction Aug. 5 & 6,
Dated ca. 1825, the clock has been in possession of the same family for five generations, being passed on to the eldest son in the family for nearly 200 years.
That tradition has come to an end, with the most recent eldest son moving out of state, and none of his family interested in keeping the clock in the family.
"He felt it was important to sell it in New Jersey and hopefully keep it local," Bodnar said. "When we came to pick it up it was running in the foyer of their North Jersey home.".
Aaron Brokaw was from an illustrious line of colonial clockmakers. His grandfather, Aaron Miller (died 1777), after whom he was named, was a clockmaker of some note in Elizabethtown, NJ. Miller had lived in New York before setting up his business in Elizabethtown. The New York Gazetteer (Nov. 23, 1747) described Miller as “a clockmaker in Elizabethtown [who]…makes and sells all sorts of clocks after the Dutch manner…he likewise makes compasses and chains for surveyors.”
Miller produced a clock to hang in the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethtown in 1759. Isaac Brokaw, Aaron Brokaw’s father, had been apprenticed to Miller in about 1759. Isaac married Miller’s daughter Elizabeth in 1764. On Aaron Miller’s death in 1777 Isaac Brokaw inherited Aaron Miller’s clock-making tools.
Aaron Brokaw would appear to have taken up an apprenticeship under his father from the 1780s. Isaac and Elizabeth moved their family to Bridge Town, New Jersey around 1790, and Aaron continued to work alongside his father, with his first clocks being signed “Aaron Brokaw, Bridge Town”. He took over his father’s business upon his death in 1826.
Aaron Brokaw was certainly not the last of this respected family of clockmakers – his uncle Cornelius Miller and cousin Kennedy Miller were also clockmakers of note. Kennedy Miller also worked in Elizabethtown, so it may have been too many clockmakers in one place that prompted Isaac Brokaw to move to Bridge Town.
Clocks made by these three generations of clockmakers are elegant, stylish and of the finest quality.
Aaron Brokaw fought with the Middlesex Militia (Middlesex County, NJ) in the War of 1812 and was married to Elizabeth Tucker (1774-1854). He continued to make clocks after his father’s death in 1826, and may also have worked with his younger brother John Brokaw, who is known to have trained under their father as well. Aaron Brokaw died on Dec.18th, 1853 and is buried in Rahway Cemetery.
The clock is expected to sell between $2,000-$4,000.
The sale will be conducted online on liveauctioneers,com. Previews by appointment are in South Brunswick, NJ and you can leave absentee bids as well as bid online.
This sale also features over 250 lots including over 30 other clocks and the contents of a local watchmaker's estate packed with watchmaker and clock parts and tools. Jade & Jewelry highlight this sale as well.
This is a part of a two-day event with Day Two featuring over 300+ lots of estate jewelry of 14K, 18K, sterling silver and designer jewelry. The jewelry sale is a selection from three local estates and will also be offered with no reserve. All bids start at $10.
Bodnar’s offers in-house shipping for Day Two only. Bodnar’s has moved all auctions to an online format for the perceived future with 2-day auctions offered every other week.
"We converted our warehouse on our property to a showroom and now are conducting by appointment only previews the 2 days before the auction. one person at a time to keep everyone safe. Bodnar said.
Log on to Liveauctioneers.com to participate; Those who win can either have the lot shipped or pick up by appointment. For more information go to www.bodnarsauction.com or call 866-349-7378.
Bodnar's Auction Sales is a TAPinto marketing partner