Benjamin Morrill Tower Clock

Jim DuBois

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A well-preserved tower clock by Benjamin Morrill of Boscowan NH. Circa 1830. This example shows his rather peculiar straight horizontal rack as well as a nice pinwheel escapement. This clock has its original paint on its wood frame, as well as the black on its cast iron wheels and the like. The granite weights are still with the mechanism, which is not common as the weights usually are left in the weight chutes when clocks are removed.

A rare piece of Americana in excellent original paint and a nice state of preservation overall. The poorly replaced tin on the clock fan is about its only major flaw and one that can be rectified pretty easy. Very few of these are known to exist, less than a half dozen we think.

CLOCK 4.jpg CLOCK 5.jpg CLOCK 6.jpg CLOCK 7.jpg CLOCK 1.jpg CLOCK 2.jpg CLOCK 8.jpg CLOCK 9.jpg CLOCK 10.jpg CLOCK 11.jpg IMG_2445.JPG IMG_2446.JPG IMG_2447.JPG IMG_2448.JPG IMG_2449.JPG IMG_2450.JPG IMG_2451.JPG CLOCK 8.jpg
 

novicetimekeeper

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amazing to get it out so complete, what happened to the building
 

Jim DuBois

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The story I was told was it came out of a church in Amesbury Mass 50 or more years ago. It was replaced by a then modern electrical mechanism. They kept the original motion works, hands, and dials as all that was used with the new movement. I would own this except for not having a single place I could display it.
 
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scootermcrad

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The story I was told was it came out of a church in Amesbury Mass 50 or more years ago. It was replaced by a then modern electrical mechanism. They kept the original motion works, hands, and dials as all that was used with the new movement. I would own this except for not having a single place I could display it.
Absolutely FANTASTIC! So what will happen to it? Is it protected? Is there a new care-taker in mind?
 

Jim DuBois

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Absolutely FANTASTIC! So what will happen to it? Is it protected? Is there a new care-taker in mind?
I was offered this clock a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, it was a couple of thousand miles away, and pretty large, and I have absolutely no place to put it. But, I thought it appropriate to at least document the very little I know about it and share the photos. I would love to see it go to a museum but someone with larger pockets than mine would need to procure it and then donate it.
 
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jjsantos

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Where is it? Maybe one of us with room is closer...

I am near Amesbury and we are struggling to ID a steeple clock that replaced this (none here now that I know of...)
 

Jim DuBois

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Where is it? Maybe one of us with room is closer...

I am near Amesbury and we are struggling to ID a steeple clock that replaced this (none here now that I know of...)
As far as I am aware the clock is either in southern NH or west/central Mass. There is an effort underway by a tower clock aficionado to obtain this clock, right now. Don't know how that will end up but at least it is not being totally ignored. The rareness of this clock should be appreciated and it deserves to be preserved as is, with only restoration of the fan recommended by me at least. It looks like it would run now with minimal "tuning." Having the original granite weights is most unusual and IMO adds to the package and originality.
 
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jjsantos

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A little research, and so far the only tower clock we can find evidence of was in Mill #8 in Amesbury, Built in 1862 - five years after Morrill's death. Picture from Amesbury Carriage Museum website. This building burnt down in the 1950s - which roughly matches the "came out 50 years ago". - but certainly not for an electric, and not a church. We'll keep digging.


Mill_8_from_Mkt_Sq+b.jpg
 
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Jim DuBois

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I find something of interest that may reflect a clock, mentioned in Frederick Shelley's book on Early American Tower Clocks, as edited by Donn Haven Lathrop; "his 5th clock is now in a private collection after its removal from the Pilgrim Congregational Church in Andover Mass." Only his 2nd clock remains location entirely unknown or so it is reported in this book. So, the clock could well be either his 2nd clock or his 5th clock, or an entirely unknown other example. His 6th and 7th clocks had cast iron frames, so we think this one to be earlier, not later. And it is reported he only made the 7 clocks. So, my contact may have been confused by Amesbury vs.Andover.

Here is what I originally received in its regard;

1. The clock was originally installed in a church in Amesbury. When the townsfolks opt to have it electrified the old works were removed 50 years ago. Left behind was the THREE faces-( one side did not warrant a face)-, and the bell.

2. The distribution mechanism is complete and I have recorded photos in a separate E-mail

3. The ORIGINAL GRANITE WEIGHTS are there, both time and the much larger strike.

4. The original winding mechanisms are on the clock and there is an ingenious method of using just ONE pinion which Morrill worked out to serve as the way to wind BOTH time and strike. I have photos of that in the next E-mail.

5. The blacksmith made winder is included-- see photos.

6. The clock retains its ORIGINAL GREEN PAINT in a GREAT state of preservation.

7. The governer-FLY- is there although it is a tin replacement

8. The striking hammer assembly is all there.

The clock is quite imposing and has a lot more parts than I realized.

Thanks for your work chasing this down JJ, but it looks like I misdirected you. Neat photo of the mill!
 
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jjsantos

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No worries, Jim. South Church of Andover, MA - just a little further down the road. and it has a clock. I'll bet that's it. Church was formed in 1711, so plenty of time for a couple of rounds of clock replacements. That makes sense.

Keep us posted on where it goes. We may be able to find it a home if it doesn't end up anywhere. Better that then the alternative...it's a treasure!

Jack
 
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scootermcrad

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All,
I'm chipping away at a friend of mine, and member here, to make contact with the current owner. Hoping they connect soon. Not sure the timing will be right for him. I will keep you all in the loop.

Hoping for a good outcome here, as well. Would love to see it preserved, functioning, and on display.

I find something of interest that may reflect a clock, mentioned in Frederick Shelley's book on Early American Tower Clocks, as edited by Donn Haven Lathrop; "his 5th clock is now in a private collection after its removal from the Pilgrim Congregational Church in Andover Mass." Only his 2nd clock remains location entirely unknown or so it is reported in this book. So, the clock could well be either his 2nd clock or his 5th clock, or an entirely unknown other example. His 6th and 7th clocks had cast iron frames, so we think this one to be earlier, not later. And it is reported he only made the 7 clocks. So, my contact may have been confused by Amesbury vs.Andover.

Here is what I originally received in its regard;

1. The clock was originally installed in a church in Amesbury. When the townsfolks opt to have it electrified the old works were removed 50 years ago. Left behind was the THREE faces-( one side did not warrant a face)-, and the bell.

2. The distribution mechanism is complete and I have recorded photos in a separate E-mail

3. The ORIGINAL GRANITE WEIGHTS are there, both time and the much larger strike.

4. The original winding mechanisms are on the clock and there is an ingenious method of using just ONE pinion which Morrill worked out to serve as the way to wind BOTH time and strike. I have photos of that in the next E-mail.

5. The blacksmith made winder is included-- see photos.

6. The clock retains its ORIGINAL GREEN PAINT in a GREAT state of preservation.

7. The governer-FLY- is there although it is a tin replacement

8. The striking hammer assembly is all there.

The clock is quite imposing and has a lot more parts than I realized.

Thanks for your work chasing this down JJ, but it looks like I misdirected you. Neat photo of the mill!
That's great information, Jim!
 

Jim DuBois

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Good work scootermcrad! I wish you luck on this endeavor and success too. The email address sent you has always generated a very quick response for me. This particular fellow has found some very nice and very rare clocks in the recent past. Several have come this way. He has tremendous knowledge of 17th and 18th century Americana and does stray into early and rare 19th-century stuff too, like this clock.
 

scootermcrad

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Good work scootermcrad! I wish you luck on this endeavor and success too. The email address sent you has always generated a very quick response for me. This particular fellow has found some very nice and very rare clocks in the recent past. Several have come this way. He has tremendous knowledge of 17th and 18th century Americana and does stray into early and rare 19th-century stuff too, like this clock.
He responded to me almost immediately with his information. I just updated my friend with the info that you uncovered and mentioned what you said about Shelley's book.

I would personally love to own this clock with the intention of preserving and displaying it as a functional clock, but I think my wife would kill me. HA!
 
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Jim DuBois

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Yeah, you have to have a very special spousal tolerance if you get into tower clocks. I have owned quite a few, most of them have been on the smaller end of the genre. This one is a bit larger than most I have owned. But, had I had a bit of space I would own it by now. My wife told me to buy it, so I can't blame her for letting it pass.
 
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scootermcrad

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Yeah, you have to have a very special spousal tolerance if you get into tower clocks. I have owned quite a few, most of them have been on the smaller end of the genre. This one is a bit larger than most I have owned. But, had I had a bit of space I would own it by now. My wife told me to buy it, so I can't blame her for letting it pass.
Special Spousal tolerance is RIGHT! :) I really pushed it on the last one I bought. We combined the purchase with a trip to Disney for our daughter and the clock took half of our SUV and the stand was on the roof.

Sorry... derailing the topic at hand. Carry on!
 

bptanguay

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I'm in Central MA, close to Southern NH and would enjoy visiting this clock if only for pictures. I currently run the Templeton "Narragansett Historical Society" in MA. We have an E. Howard striking tower clock and a recent tower clock arrived this week from Ipswich MA, the one Donn Lathrop saved. Running a Museum gives me the opportunity to acquire tower clocks and tall clocks as donations, I enjoy them, preserve them, and share them with our many visitors. It's a great way to collect without convincing my spouse to make room. I get the approval of the directors and I'm off and running. Can't wait to hear how this clock ends up.
 
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