Benjamin Morrill of Boscawen, NH. Circa 1810. A cherry case tall clock. ZZ-56

This a fine country example. The cherry case stands up on cut out base. The four feet and retain good height and form a very unusual scrolled apron that drops or hangs below the base section. The waist section is fitted with a rectangular shaped waist door. This door is trimmed with an applied molding along its perimeter. Through this waist door one can gain access to the interior of the case and the components that include the original weights and the brass faced pendulum bob. Finely reeded quarter columns flank the sides of the waist and terminate in brass quarter capitals at both ends. The bonnet is surmounted with pierced and open fret work pattern that exhibits a local design. This decorative feature is supported by three long and narrow reeded finial plinths. Each plinth is capped at the top and fitted with a brass. The molded arch is supported by smoothly turned bonnet columns. These are free standing and mounted in brass capitals. They flank the arched bonnet door which is fitted with glass.

This iron dial was paint decorated by the Boston ornamental artist Spencer Nolen. This dial features Autumn New England colors. Pears are the reoccurring theme. A single large and ripe pear is depicted in each of the four spandrel areas. These are set on foliage. In the lunette, a full basket of fruit and florals is painted in this location. A gilt ring frames the outer border of the time ring. The quarter hour markers are depicted in Arabic numerals. A closed minute ring separates the the quarter hour markers from the hour numerals. These are displayed in a Roman font. A subsidiary seconds dial and the month calendar display are located in their traditional locations. This dial is signed by the Clockmaker. This signature is located below the calendar date and above the Roman hour numeral six. It reads, “Benj. Morrill / BOSCAWEN.”

This movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. It is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is a time and strike design having a rack and snail striking system. As a result, it will strike each hour on the hour. This is done on a cast iron bell which is mounted above the movement.

This fine example was made circa 1810 and stands 7 feet 9.5 inches (93.5 inches) tall to the top of the center finial.

About Benjamin Morrill of Boscawen, New Hampshire.

Benjamin Morrill was born in Boscawen on 16 January,1794 and died April 21,1857. His parents were Samuel Morrill and Sarah (Atkinson) Morrill. He was their fifth child. Boscawen, A small village located just northwest on Concord, NH, he lived in the house his grandfather Reverend Robie Morrill who graduated from Harvard College in 1755. The house was built in 1769 and is located on King Street. It was the first framed house in that town. It is summarized that Benjamin was a practical man and that he was educated. His work demonstrates a creative skill in mechanical matters. It is not presently know who trained Benjamin as a clockmaker and 1816, Benjamin is recorded as setting up his shop. Benjamin’s oldest sister Judith, married Joseph Chadwick. He was also a clockmaker from the same town and was seven years older than Benjamin. On November 22, 1818, Benjamin marries his first of two wives, Mehetable Eastman. She was the daughter of Simeon and Anna (Kimball) Eastman of Landiff, New Hampshire. They had two children before she died on July 6, 1828. Benjamin remarried six months later to Mary Choate of Derry, New Hampshire. Together, they also had two children. Benjamin died April 21, 1857. As a clockmaker, examples of tall case, banjo, shelf, mirror and tower clocks have been recorded as being made by him. As production clocks made their way into his region, he was also known to make scales and musical instruments that included Melodeons and Seraphines.

As a Clockmaker, Benjamin made numerous clocks. These included tall case clocks, shelf clocks, banjo clocks and mirror clocks. Interestingly, he is credited with developing the New Hampshire clock form. Many of the mirror clocks found today, feature his “Wheel Barrel” style movement. Benjamin is also thought to have made at least four tower clocks. Interestingly, none of these examples are signed but, all are similar in style. The documented examples are as follows. One example was installed in the tower in the First Parish Meeting House located in Dover, New Hampshire. A second clock was installed the tower of the Congregational Church in Henniker, New Hampshire in 1835. This clock is now on display at the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, Connecticut. A third clock is reportedly located in its original location in Orford, New Hampshire. Later in life when clockmaking became less profitable, Benjamin developed an interest in music. He then began to manufacture various musical instruments and scales.

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