Samuel Mulliken (1761-1847) Newburyport. An important Massachusetts shelf clock. LL-73

This is an important mahogany Massachusetts Case On Case Shelf Clock made by Samuel Mulliken of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Samuel Mulliken II was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, the son of John Mulliken and Susanna Huse (1735-1820) on April 9th, 1765. He is a member of a very important family of American Clockmakers. It is thought that he was trained by his distant cousin Jonathan Mulliken (1746-1782) of Newburyport. Jonathan died in 1782, and Samuel married Jonathan’s widow, Susannah (Pearson) Mulliken, a year later in 1783. Samuel’s Newburyport clock shop was located on State Street. Here he developed business ties with the Willards from Roxbury, agreeing to sell Simon’s Patented Clock Jacks. In 1789, Samuel moved from Newburyport to Lynn, Massachusetts, and then the following year to Salem, Massachusetts. In Salem, Samuel advertises himself as a merchant. In 1796 he moved back to Lynn and, in 1803, became the postmaster of the town. Samuel died in Lynn in 1847. Other examples of brass and white dial shelf clocks are known. One brass dial version is currently in the Peabody Essex Museum Collection in Salem, Massachusetts. This clock is very similar to the Peabody Essex clock.

The case on case design is an early shelf clock form. It gets its descriptive name from the appearance of the upper section visually sitting on the base. The wood selected for this example is mahogany, and it is nicely grained and retains an older surface. The warm color of this wood is on the lighter side of the mahogany color spectrum. The case off is elevated off the table surface on four applied ogee bracket feet. Their form is wonderfully compact and detailed. A tombstone-shaped door is located in the lower section of the cabinet. It provides access to the interior of the case. An applied molding trims the edge of this door. This subtle detail is very successful. Through this door, one can access the weight and pendulum. The hood or bonnet appears to be a separate piece of furniture. The lower molding is designed to resemble bracket-style feet. Visually, these sit on top of the base section. This is reminiscent of the details found in the Willard Grafton Wall Clocks designs. The hood door is a kidney-shaped form. A pierced cut-out follows the design of the interior frame. The hood door is hinged. The matt board that frames the brass dial is painted black. Two urn-shaped brass finials are mounted to the top of this case.

The circular brass dial is wonderfully formatted. The design is complex. The outer edge is trimmed with rope molding. An additional graduated ring is positioned on the outside of the five-minute display. The time ring is engraved. The five-minute positions are marked with Arabic-style numerals. A dotted minute ring separates them from the Roman-style numerals. This small dial also includes a seconds register. The dial is signed by the Clockmaker in script lettering, “S. Mulliken.” The engraved designs are filled with shellac or wax, and the front surface is treated with a silver wash. The silver compound adheres to the exposed brass surfaces, thus creating a stark contrast between the applied silver and the dark black filler inside the engraved decorations. The brass movement is 8-day duration and of good quality.

This fine movement is constructed in brass and is of good quality. Four ringed turned cigar-shaped pillars support the two brass plates. Hardened steel shafts support the polished steel pinions and brass gearing. The winding drum is turned smooth. The escapement is designed as a recoil format. The movement is weight-driven and designed to run for approximately 4.5 days on a full wind. This example is a single train design fitted with a fall-off striking arrangement. The hammer is lifted and released each hour to strike a single blow on the bell. The bell is mounted aside from the movement on a bell stand attached to the backplate. This movement is of good quality.

This clock was made circa 1780. The overall height of this case and mounted finials is 33 inches tall.

This very clock is pictured in “The Old Clock Book,” written by N. Hudson Moore between pages 142 and 143. It is figure no. 85. In 1911 it was owned by Mrs. H. P. Brownell of Providence, Rhode Island. It is reported that she owned approximately 50 antique clocks at this time. This is one she admired, and it received special attention.

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About Samuel (II) Mulliken of Haverhill ,Newburyport, Salem and Lynn Massachusetts.

Samuel Mulliken II was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, the son of mariner John Mulliken, a Captain in the state militia during the American Revolution, and Susanna Huse (1735-1820) on September 22, 1761. He is a member of a very important family of American Clockmakers. Samuel was apprenticed as a clockmaker and as an engraver by his distant cousin Jonathan Mulliken (1740-1782) in nearby Newburyport. Samuel may have completed his apprenticeship and first worked as a journeyman in the town of Salem only to return to Newburyport after his uncle Jonathan died in 1782. It seems likely that he took over Jonathan’s shop and courted his widow, Susannah (Pearson) Mulliken. Samuel and Susannah were married a year later, on August 20, 1783. Samuel’s Newburyport shop was located on State Street. Here he continued to manufacture clocks, engrave clock dials, repair watches, and light metalwork. He also developed a business relationship with the Willards from Roxbury, agreeing to sell Simon’s Patented Clock Jacks. Samuel returned to Haverhill and opened his shop in 1787 through October 1788. He lost his wife Susanna in 1787 to yellow fever. By the end of November 1788, Samuel re-established himself in Salem, MA, on the corner of Court Street. He was busy doing various tasks for his cousin through marriage, the Sanderson brothers, Elijah and Jacob. By March of 1789, Samuel has married his second wife, Sarah Newhall, daughter of Colonel Ezra Newhall. His watch repair business begins to take off, taking in over 20 watches a month to service. In 1796 he moved back to Lynn and bought property. He buys a tenement house and opens a tannery. He is still involved with making clocks and casting brass. He later became the town’s postmaster in 1803. Samuel died in Lynn in 1847.

Examples of brass and white dial shelf clocks are known. One brass dial shelf clock is currently in the Peabody Essex Museum Collection in Salem, Massachusetts. A similar example to the Peabody Essex clock is pictured in “The Old Clock Book” written by N. Hudson Moore. It is pictured between pages 142 and 143 in Black and white. It is figure no. 85. In 1911 it was owned by Mrs. H. P. Brownell of Providence, Rhode Island. It is reported that she owned approximately 50 antique clocks at this time. This is one she admired, and it received special attention.

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