Levi Hutchins of Concord, New Hampshire. A high style inlaid mahogany case tall clock. The best that colonial New Hampshire had to offer. It also features a rocking ship dial.

This high style inlaid mahogany cased tall clock was made by Levi Hutchins of Concord, New Hampshire. Levi is best known in the the horological world as being half of a clockmaking partnership that included his younger brother Abel Hutchins. Both of which were Simon Willard apprentices. Very few clocks are known that retain the signature of just Levi. Most of the Hutchins clocks that surface in today’s marketplace seemed to be signed by the partnership or solely by his brother Abel.

This very interesting and complex example features Boston proportions and form. It is constructed in a variety of woods that include mahogany, mahogany veneers, curly maple, bird’s eye maple, rosewood and white pine. The case stands on nicely formed flared French. These retain excellent height and are applied and transition smoothly up into the base panel. Please note the drop apron in the front. The feet are visually separated from the base by a line inlay pattern that frames the four sides of the base. Step in and a broad section of figured mahogany is used as cross banding. A second complex line pattern frames the center section of figured mahogany. The transition from the base to the waist is accomplished so with a shaped waist molding. This is somewhat compressed. The waist section is fitted with a large rectangular shaped waist door that is trimmed with an applied molding. Through this door one can access the clock’s original tin can weights and pendulum. The door is veneered with a selection of crotch mahogany. Additional use of the line inlay forms a frame inside the door. The sides of the waist are reeded quarter columns that terminate in brass quarter capitals at each end. These are blocked with decorative inlaid panels, top and bottom. The bonnet is surmounted with a New England style pierced and open fret work decoration, three capped finial plinths that are inlaid with a complex design and three brass ball and spiked finials. The bonnet columns are reeded and are supported by brass capitals. These flank the arched door. The prevailing inlay pattern is repeated in this location. This door opens to allow one access to the painted iron dial.

This iron dial is of Boston origin and was most likely manufactured by the Nolen dial firm. It features very colorful fans in each of the four spandrel areas. These are surrounded by raised gesso decorations that are highlighted in gilt paint. The automated feature of a rocking ship is located in the arch of this dial. The painted ship is depicted flying a red flag. The ship actually moves or rocks gently from side to side with the motion of the pendulum. The painted scene behind the sailing ship includes a large lighthouse is built out on a peninsula which is located on the left. This nautical theme is painted on a convex piece of metal and adds to the visual depth to the scene. Below the calendar aperture, this dial is boldly signed by the Clockmaker in script lettering. The signature simply reads, “Levi Hutchins.” The working location of “CONCORD” is signed in block lettering below it. The time ring features Arabic style hour numerals. Smaller Arabic numerals are used to mark the five minute markers. A subsidiary seconds dial and calendar display are located in the traditional locations.

The movement is constructed in brass and is weight driven. It is designed to run eight days on a full wind and strike each hour on a cast iron bell. The striking system features a rack and snail set up. The cast iron bell is mounted above the movement. The movement is good quality.

This clocks stands approximately 8 feet 3.5 inches tall to the top of the center brass finial. It is 21.5 inches wide and 10.25 inches deep. This clock was made circa 1810.

A closely related example is now on display at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH.

Inventory Number ZZ-2.

About Levi Hutchins of Concord, New Hampshire.

Levi Hutchins was born in Harvard, Massachusetts on August 17, 1761 and died peacefully on June 13, 1855. He was 93. His remains were interned in the Friends’ burial-ground in Concord, NH. It is interesting to note that this was a society that he somewhat withdrew from several years before his death. Levi was one of eleven children. His parents were Colonel Gordon Hutchins & Dolly or Dorothy Stone. Levi had a younger brother named Abel who was born in March of 1763. He also became a clockmaker and for a time worked with his brother in a partnership. Able also died in the town of Concord on April 4th, 1853. Both men lived into their nineties and lived long prosperous lives. I have listed some of Levi’s life’s highlights below.

In 1772, their father had moved the family from the town of Harvard, MA to Concord, NH. In Concord, he purchased land and buildings and commenced as a storekeeper. Gordon became active in the revolution and served as a Captain in the local regiment. Young Levi served in his regiment as a Fifer from April to September in 1775. In May of that year, Gordon Hutchins marched to Breeds Hill mistakenly recorded in history as Bunker Hill under the command of Colonel John Stark. Young Levi accompanied them and watched the battle from a distance high on the hills of Medford, MA. Levi also witnessed the burning of Charlestown. His father Gordon was later stationed at Winter Hill until the end of that year. Levi enlisted in Captain Lewis‘ Company, in Colonel Varnum’s Regiment, under General Green. In the spring of 1776, he marched to New York under the orders of General Washington in order to protect the city and was posted in Brooklyn for a while. He remained posted on the island of Red Hook which is located 4 miles from New York and is such situated to protect the harbor until the defeat of the Americans in the battle of Long Island. Levi was honorably discharged and return to New Hampshire on horseback.

Levi was well educated. He attended Byfield Academy for 1 year and Andover Academy for 2 quarters. He was then recruited as a school teacher and taught in the towns of Tewksbury, Pembroke and Ashburnham, Massachusetts.

On December 6, 1777, the two brothers entered into an apprenticeship with the ingenious Grafton, Massachusetts clockmaker, Simon Willard. At this time Levi was sixteen and Abel was fourteen years of age. After Levi served his 3 year indenture to Simon, he traveled to Abington, CT to serve an eight month apprenticeship in the watch repair trade.

Levi may have move to Concord, New Hampshire as early as 1782. Here he set up residence and shop on Main Street in the central village. His first shop was located very near the present railroad passenger depot not far from the junction of the Merrimack River and the roads from Boston, Portsmouth and the Connecticut Valley. Soon after Levi arrived, is brother Able moved up from Roxbury, MA having worked with the Willards for a few years. Together they formed a partnership that lasted until about 1803 and became the most prolific clockmakers in the Concord region for a number of years. Their output of tall case clocks seems to be somewhat substantial. The earliest ad known to date for their partnership was published in the 1788 in the New Hampshire Spy. They placed an advertisement in the Concord Herald in 1790 and again in 1792looking for two apprentices. It is thought that Peabody Atkinson and Jesse Smith answered the ad. They both are recorded as working as farmers in Virginia in their later years.

On February 23rd 1789, Levi married Phoebe Hanaford daughter of Benjamin and Ruth Hanaford of Haverhill, MA. Together they had ten children. Levi made each one of them a clock before he passed.

In 1793, Levi and Abel purchased a farm together three miles away on the western side of Rattlesnake Hill. Here they continued to manufacturer clocks and also began to farm.

In 1807, their partnership was dissolved. Abel bought out Levi’s share of the business and paid off all debts. Levi received the farm and opened his own shop opposite Gale’s Tavern. Abel retained the house and original shop and the parcel of land. On Tuesday, November 25, 1817 these building were consumed by fire. Two years later, Abel erects the Phoenix Hotel.

In 1808, Levi purchased a house on 70 acres including an apple orchard, a dilapidated fort, a large barn, woodshed and later a saw mill located on Long Pond in the West Parish or West Concord Village.

After the War of 1812, about 1815, Levi built a large building and set up five looms to manufacturer cloth. The cloth business lasted three years before it became unprofitable and sold off. One room in this barn was used for clockmaking. Levi continued to work on brass clock for 20 years. The saw mill operated for 50 years.


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