An unsigned New Hampshire Mirror Clock with Wheel Barrel shaped movement attributed to Benjamin Morrill of Boscawen, NH. HH227

Although the dial of this New Hampshire Mirror clock is unsigned, we have a pretty good idea of its Maker. This clock has a very distinctive shaped works that we now categorize as a “Wheel barrel movement.” This movement gets its name from the unusual layout of the brass gearing. The brass gearing is laid out from left to right on a horizontal plane. On the left, is the largest of the wheels, the main wheel. This wheel gathers the weight cord as one winds the clock. On the far right side is the escape-wheel. Please note the anchor portion of the escapement is mounted on the right side of the escape-wheel. As a result, the pendulum attaches to the movement from this off center position. We have owned numerous examples of mirror clocks that incorporate this unusual setup. Many of which have featured dials signed by the Boscawen, New Hampshire Clockmaker Benjamin Morrill.

New Hampshire mirror clocks exist in many shaped and sizes and varying degrees of complexity. This case is constructed in white pine and is veneered in mahogany. The veneers selected were chosen for their vibrant grain patterns and are strategically positioned for a decorative effect. Another interesting case construction feature are the mitered corners and the canted inward shape of the frame. The surface retains an older finish. The front of this case is actually a door. It is divided in two sections. The lower section features a mirror. The mirror in this example is an older replacement. Fortunately, this replace mirror is period and looks excellent. The upper section of the door features a reverse painted tablet which is original to this clock and is in very good original condition. It features a yellow background and is decorated with gilt designs in each of the four spandrel areas. The center of this tablet is left undecorated. This open area is trimmed with a gilt border that centers the painted dial.

The dial is painted on iron and has had some minor restoration to a couple of the numerals. The steel hands are nicely shaped and a traditional form for the region. The minute hand is an appropriate replacement and matches the style of the hour hand. The door is hinged and will open to allow one access to the dial, the mechanism which is positioned behind it, the lead weight and the pendulum. Because of the location of the escape-wheel, the pendulum hangs from the extreme right side of the works.

This clock is nicely proportioned measuring 30 inches long, 14 inches wide and 3.75 inches deep. This clock was made circa 1835.

This clock is inventory number HH-227.

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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