Stephen Hasham of Charlestown, New Hampshire. An 8-day shelf clock.
This very unusual Massachusetts Shelf Clock was made by Stephen Hasham of Charlestown, New Hampshire circa 1810. Very few shelf clocks are known to be made by this New Hampshire clockmaker. This case although it is constructed in the traditional woods of mahogany and New England white pine, features an unusual form. The case design is a combination of the shelf clock, the dwarf clock and the coffin clock case forms.
This example stands on four applied bracket feet. These transition into an apron that features c scroll returns and a drop apron. This decorative detail is applied to the bottom of the case or to the large half round base molding. The main case section is long. The front of this section is fitted with a large door. This door is trimmed around its perimeter with a cockbeaded molding. The door is visually divided into two sections. The lower section features an inset panel. This panel was selected for its unique grain pattern. This pattern features a fluid image. The upper section is an opening that is fitted with glass. This opening conforms to the shape of the dial. In the trade, we call this shape a Kidney form. Flanking the the door are two turned and shaped wooden columns. The top of the case is not decorated.
The paint decorated kidney shaped dial is iron. The paint decoration is rural in nature. Simple florals frame the signature area below the time track. Inside the oval is the Maker’s signature and working location. It reads, "S. Hasham / CHARLESTOWN." This example features a time ring that is formatted with large Roman hour numerals. It is interesting to note that the quarter hours are also marked in an Arabic format. The hands are nicely shaped.
The movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. Four turned cigar shaped pillars support the two brass plates. Hardened steel shafts support the polished steel pinions and brass gearing. The winding drum is smoothly turned. The escapement is designed as a recoil format. The movement is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. This is a timepiece.
This case stands approximately 35.5 inches tall, 13.5 inches wide and 5.5 inches deep. It is inventory number PP-151.
About Stephen Hasham of Charlestown, New Hampshire.
Stephen Hasham was born in October of 1764 in Boston, Massachusetts. His parents Samuel (Jr.) and Hannah (Simpson) Hasham had nine children. Stephen was number six. While growing up in Boston, Stephen and his father witnessed the battle of Breed’s Hill from the top of Coop’s Hill in Boston’s North End and also the battle of Bunker Hill from the belfry of a meeting house at the North End of Boston. In 1775, his family moved west to the rural community of Grafton, Massachusetts. Two years later, Stephen and a brother moved to the city of Worcester which was only ten miles away. It is now thought that Stephen was trained as a clockmaker by Abel Stowell. Stowell advertised frequently that he was looking to train young boys as apprentices in the skill of clockmaking. Town records support this in that Stowell was reimbursed for the care of Stephen and his brother Mayhew. Sometime by he mid 1780’s, Stephen and Mayhew moved north to the small town of Charlestown, New Hampshire. This well positioned town had a population of approximately 900. On September 27, 1787, it is recorded that Stephen married Theodosia Hastings the only daughter of Deacon John and Susanna (Willard, Johnson) Hastings who were extensive property owners. Stephen and Theodosia had five children and it is here that Stephen establishes himself as a clockmaker.
We have owned and seen a number of tall clocks that were made by him. One fine example is a brass dial example that is in the collection of the New Hampshire Historical Society and is well documented. This clock is actually numbered “145” on an engraved brass dial. We have also owned brass dial and several painted dial examples and sold them to New England collectors. Stephen is also known to have made clocks in the Massachusetts shelf clock form, the banjo style wall clocks, and a number of tower clocks were installed in local New England towns. He also made several clocks that were mounted into the interior walls of some of the homes built in Charlestown. A surveying instrument constructed by him is in the collection of the Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. In addition to clockmaking, Hasham was very active in trading real estate, he became a builder, an accomplished carver, and later a tavern keeper at his Eagle Hotel.
On March 6, 1841, his wife Theodosia died at the age of 72. They had been married 50 years. Interestingly, with in weeks, Stephen was courting a 23 year old school teacher by the name of Lucy Amy Miller. Stephen was now 76 years old. They were married in August 19th, 1841 and had five children together. The last child Emily, was born when Stephen was 86. By 1851, financial difficulties begin to play a large role in Stephen’s life. In addition, his wife Lucy was deemed an insane person by the neighborhood and was committed in 1852. Financial hardships followed and he was soon ruined. The town was forced to watch over him until his death on February 3, 1861 at 100 years young. Some of the stories regarding this man are priceless. Please read the December 1994 NAWCC Bulletin article, The Amazing Stephen Hasham written by Donn Haven Lathrop and Frederick Shelley. It is on page 723.
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