This is a fine example of a New Hampshire Mirror clock attributed to Benjamin Morrill of Boscawen, New Hampshire. 221193

Although the dial of this New Hampshire Mirror clock is unsigned, it has a very distinctive movement. Because of its’ design and layout, it is called a “Wheelbarrow” movement. We have owned numerous mirror clocks that feature this unusual setup. Many of which have featured dials signed by the Boscawen, New Hampshire Clockmaker, Benjamin Morrill.

Mirror clocks serve two very useful purposes. Like all clocks, their primary use is to tell time. The second service this form provides is the function as. a mirror. The mirror reflects light and can create the illusion of additional space. It also reflects the image of whatever is in front of it. In the early 1820s, the immense popularity of the gilded wall mirror made this case option for the clockmaker a no-brainer. Mirrors were highly fashionable, and their form followed the latest furniture fashions of the period. The clock versions are essentially wall mirrors with cabinets added to the back of them in order to house the clock and its components. This popular New Hampshire form was made in significant quantities until about the 1840s.

This case is constructed in indigenous New England woods, including white pine. The surfaces are decorated with gilding and painted themes, and the finish appears to be original to the clock. This mirror clock features a classic design. Fully turned columns are split and applied to the outside perimeter of the door. These columns are shaped or turned with multiple ring turnings and shaped sections. Gilding is applied to the ring turnings. The shaped sections are painted black. The four corner blocks are fitted to the sub-frame. Cast brass rosettes are mounted to them. The door is divided into two sections. The lower section features a looking glass or mirror. The upper section features a reverse painted tablet which is original to the clock and is in very good original condition. The colors are vibrant and include reds, golds, and gilt designs. This glass panel serves double duty. The painted design frames the dial in the upper section of the case. This dial is mounted to wooden blocks glued to the backboard. The door glass also protects the painted iron dial and hands. In order to access them, one must open the door, which is hinged on the right.

The cast brass, 8-day, weight-driven, time-only movement construction is very distinctive. This form is called a “wheelbarrow” movement, and it gets its’ name from the unusual shape of the two brass plates. The two plates are secured by three posts. The backplate is mounted to the backboard with screws. Steel shafts support the gearing, which is laid out horizontally. The main wheel is located on the left, and the escape wheel is on the extreme right. The drive weight hangs below the main wheel. The weight cord wraps around the drum, passes down around the weight pulley, and is secured to the top of the case frame. The pendulum comprised of a steel rod and a brass-faced lead bob hangs off to the right below the escape wheel. The pallets are mounted to the right side of the escape wheel. Many examples of this type of clock have been found with this unusual movement.

This case is nicely proportioned, measuring 30.5 inches long, 14.5 inches wide, and 3.75 inches deep. This clock was made circa 1835.

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About Benjamin Morrill of Boscawen, New Hampshire.

Benjamin Morrill was born in Boscawen on January 16, 1794, and died on April 21, 1857. His parents were Samuel Morrill and Sarah (Atkinson) Morrill. He was their fifth child. The small village of Boscawen is located just to the northwest of Concord, NH. He lived in the house his grandfather, Reverend Robie Morrill built in 1769. It is located on King Street. It was the first framed house in that town. Robie was a graduate of Harvard College in 1755. It is summarized that Benjamin was a practical man and educated. His work demonstrates a creative skill in mechanical matters. It is not presently known who trained Benjamin as a clockmaker. He was first recorded as setting up a shop in 1816. 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 married 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 on April 21, 1857. As a clockmaker, signed examples of tall case, banjo, shelf, mirror, and tower clocks are known. As production clocks made their way into his region, he was also known to manufacture scales and musical instruments that included melodeons and seraphines.

A tower clock made by him was set up in Dover, NH, at the cost of $300. It was installed in the 1st Parish Meeting House. The whereabouts of this clock is not known. A second clock was installed in Henniker, NH. The Henniker clock is now at the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, Connecticut. It was given to them by the late Frederick Mudge Selchow. A third tower clock had been originally installed (date unknown) in the 1839 Advent Church in Sugar Hill, now part of Lisbon, NH.

A fine example of a mirror clock is in the collection of the New Hampshire Historical Society.

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