Issac Youngs interest in clocks started as a young boy in the shop of his uncle Benjamin Youngs, a clock maker by trade.
“When I was a child, I lived with my uncle, who was a clock maker. I used to be with him in his shop & watch his motions, learned the parts of a clock, & could put one together perhaps when 6 or 7 years old, & knew the time of day before I could talk plain. I had a relish for clocks & liked to be among them & handle the tools, but as I left my uncle the spring before I was 10 years old, I did not arrive to much understanding or judgment in the business.”
His interest in clock remained though and when he was 21 was allowed to apprentice with clock maker Amos Jewett. Jewett made clocks with mostly wooden movements that Brother Issac would pick up on in his clock making. A fallacy I have run across in some references is that INY just made the clock cases, not the movements. This is untrue, he made every part of the clocks, movements included.
Issac kept a clock maker’s journal from 1815 to 1835 that chronicles the production of 16 clocks during that time. After 1835 his references to his clock making activities are mentioned here and there in his daily journals.
The clocks I will be covering here and generally referred to as his 1840 style, are his most famous and well known. Issac made six (depending on the reference you read you will see he made 23 or more of this style, have no idea where some of the numbers came from, he just made six) of this style of clock, of which five survive today. All are signed, numbered 18-23 and dated on the back side of the clock face May 12th, 1840. All also have a verse written on the back of the face,unique to each clock. Though it seems his earlier clocks all had very similar wooden, weight driven movements, the clock case styling was a departure from the norm. To most, it is Shaker at it best, I would agree. He made the six clocks of this style pretty much all at the same time, though he did write about finishing #23 in 1847 with just an hour hand for use in a dairy barn!
I didn’t realize that they had wooden movements. That’s pretty neat. I do like the simple case designs.
Thanks again, Will. I made one of these as a very early project, using a Mason and Sullivan movement. There is so much i didnt know then. I used white pine for the case, but for the lower door panel I chose 1/4 inch plywood from the lumber yard. I cringe when I think of the grain in that panel.
Hey Will, how did the shakers set the time on their clocks? I assume it was more important that locally clocks were in sync than it was to be accurate on a broader cosmic scale. But even still, if there was a central clock how did they go about setting that one?
Hey will, how did the shakers set the time on their clocks? I assume it was more important for local clocks to be in sync with each other than it was to be actually accurate from a cosmic standpoint. I assume this means one town clock or such that others were set by. Even still how did they go about setting that one?
That’s a good question. I would assume noon would be judged by the sun. Shakers used a bell in the village to indicate when to wake, noon and dinner. I would think everyone would coordinate clocks with the noon bell. This is all my guess, never seen a reference to answer that question.
Good enough for me! Thanks.
Will, thanks for your work in bringing knowledge to the public.
Living in Rockford I visited the Time Museum a few times
Wish I had taken pictures.