John Birge was born in 1785, and died in Bristol, Conn. in 1862. He was an important figure in the American clock industry, and had many successful partnerships through out his career. It is recorded that he fought in the war of 1812, was active in the church, and was a good Christian. Birge settled in Bristol, Conn. around 1815, he had previously lived in Torrington, Conn.
He was trained as a carpenter, and set up business in Bristol making carriages. He was not a clockmaker, but he did have a good head for business, and around 1822 he invested capitol in a clock making venture with Dr. Titus Merriman. The company produced clocks under the name Merriman Birge & Co.
In 1830, Birge became a silent partner in the firm of C. & L.C. Ives. During this period, he also produced some clocks under his own name, of which the clock below is a rare example. From 1833 through 1837, he was involved in several firms including Birge, Case & Co., Birge, Gilbert & Co., Birge & Fuller, and Birge & Gilbert. In 1837, the firm Birge, Mallory & Co. was formed with principals John Birge, Ransom Mallory (made cases for Chauncey Jerome prior to joining in this firm), Sheldon Lewis, Thomas Fuller, and Ambrose Peck. The firm was known for their triple-decker shelf clocks, and produced 8-day and 30-hour brass movement shelf clocks through 1843, when the firm was dissolved.