Samuel Mulliken Clockmaker (1761-1847) Salem, Massachusetts. A mahogany cased tall clock. YY30

This important clock was made by Samuel Mulliken while working in Salem, Massachusetts. The Haverhill, Massachusetts town records town are somewhat sparse. Their are 5 Samuel Mullikens born in this town. They were born on the following dates, 1695, 1720, 1743, 1765 and 1777. The Samuel born in 1761 may be the maker of this rare Salem signed example?

Samuel Mulliken was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts the son of John Mulliken and Susanna Huse 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 of Newburyport. Jonathan died in 1782. Samuel married Jonathan's widow, Susannah (Pearson) Mulliken a year later in 1783. In 1789, they move from Newburyport to Lynn, Massachusetts and then the following year to Salem, Massachusetts. In Salem, Samuel advertises himself as a merchant. In 1796 he moves back to Lynn and becomes the towns postmaster until 1803. Samuel dies in Lynn in 1847. Other examples of brass and white dial clocks are known.

This is an important example and was most likely made in the early 1790’s. It very closely relates to an example that was sold at Sotheby’s in New York City in June of 1997. That clock case was this clocks twin. Made by the same unidentified cabinetmaker, the differences being that the veneers used, which were from the same flitch, were turned upside down. The form and the proportions are nearly identical.

This case is constructed in the finest mahogany. The grain patterns selected are exuberant and simulates movement. The wood retains an older finish that has been cleaned. The result is a pleasing color that is warm an inviting. The case stands up off the floor on four compressed ogee bracket feet. These are applied to the bottom of a double stepped molding that is fitted to the lower section of the base. The base panel is wonderfully figured. The grain pattern is wonderfully developed and presented in such a way that it looks like water flowing over a water fall in sheets. The base section transitions to the waist with via a shaped molding. Just below this molding is an applied skirt or a scalloped detail. This is a very successful detail. The waist section is fitted with a large tomb-stone shaped waist door. This is trimmed with an applied molding. The wood selected for the door is wildly figured. Through this door one can access the weights and the pendulum. One can also get the sense of the quality of construction. Triangular glue blocks are used to secure the backboard to the side and the sides to the front frame. The hood or bonnet features two fully turned and fluted bonnet columns. These terminate in brass capitals and are decorated with brass stopping. They visually support the molded arch. Above the arch are three finial plinths. Each supports an urn shaped finial made of brass. A lancet arched and pierced fretwork crest decorates the top of the case. The bonnet sides are fitted with large tomb-stone shaped side lights. These are fitted with glass. The hood door is hinged and fitted with glass. It opens to access the dial.

This painted iron dial is nicely decorated. The hours are marked with large Roman numerals. The large Arabic five minutes markers are located on the outside of this hour ring. A subsidiary seconds dial and a calendar date display opening are located inside the time track. The Maker's name and working location can be found below the calendar date opening. It reads in large block lettering, "S Mulliken / Salem."

The movement is constructed in brass. The cast brass plates are supported by four ring turned brass posts. The gearing is also brass and the pinions are hardened steel. The movement is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. This mechanism will strike each hour on a bell that is mounted above the plates. The strike train is a rack and snail design. The winding barrels are grooved. The movement is supported by a seaboard. The pendulum features a metal rod and a brass faced lead bob.

This clock stands approximately 7 feet 9 or 93 inches tall to the top of the finials. Measured at the feet, this case is 20.25 inches wide and 10 inches deep. It was made circa 1792.

This clock is inventory number YY-30.

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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