Query: Seeking Stretch



The early Philadelphia clockmaker Peter Stretch (1670–1746) and his two clockmaking sons, Thomas (1697-1765) and William (1701-1748), are the subject of a forthcoming catalogue raisonné to be published by the Winterthur Museum and Country Estate in Delaware.

Peter Stretch was born in Leek in Staffordshire, England, and apprenticed with his older brother Samuel, a clockmaker who specialized in lantern clocks there. A Quaker, Peter Stretch and his wife and three sons left England for Philadelphia in 1703. He set up his shop on the southwest corner of Second and Chestnut Streets known as “Peter Stretch’s Corner,” where he made and sold clocks and imported wares. He joined the Common Council of Philadelphia in 1708, and nine years later received a commission from the council to work on the town clock.

Stretch produced a wide range of clocks, including thirty-hour and eight-day ones with engraved brass movements, plain dials, and single hands — more elaborate ones with a sweep second hand, revolving moon dial, and musical works. His son William inherited tools and unfinished clocks from his father and both William and Thomas continued to make clocks.

Readers with clocks made by Peter, William, or Thomas Stretch or bills, personal correspondence, account books, letter books, diaries, advertisements, or business records are asked to contact Donald L. Fennimore, Curator Emeritus, by mail at Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, Winterthur, Delaware, 19735; telephone 302-888-4598; or e-mail dfennimore@winterthur.org.