Hamburg Clocks

Manufacturing was alien to the Southern plantation spirit, but nevertheless found its way into the freewheeling atmosphere at Hamburg, including – for a few years – the local assembly of clocks. These were  ‘Short Case’ clocks of the type that stood on the fireplace mantles of many, if not most Southern homes. Many Hamburg clocks still exist, one at the Aiken County Historical Museum, and a Huson clock at the Saluda Museum (by the Saluda Theater at 105 Law Range Street). Some are labeled ‘L. M. Churchill & Co.’ and others ‘Huson & Co.’

L. M. Churchill Clock assembled in Hamburg, SC ca. 1838

L. M. Churchill Clock assembled in Hamburg, SC in the mid 1830s. Courtesy of Ross A. Burton

churchill label

Label of L. M. Churchill clock. Courtesy of Ross A. Burton

Here’s the story as told by the great Connecticut clock manufacturer, Chauncey Jerome, in his History of the American Clock Business.

“In 1835, the southern people were greatly opposed to the Yankee pedlars
coming into their states, especially the clock pedlars, and the licences
were raised so high by their Legislatures that it amounted to almost a
prohibition. Their laws were that any goods made in their own States
could be sold without licence. Therefore clocks to be profitable must be
made in those states. Chauncey and Noble Jerome started a factory in
Richmond Va., making the cases and parts at Bristol, Connecticut, and
packing them with the dials, glass &c. We shipped them to Richmond and
took along workmen to put them together. The people were highly pleased
with the idea of having clocks all made in their State. The old planters
would tell the pedlars they meant to go to Richmond and see the
wonderful machinery there must be to produce such articles and would no
doubt have thought the tools we had there were sufficient to make a
clock. We carried on this kind of business for two or three years and
did very well at it, though it was unpleasant. Every one knew it was all
a humbug trying to stop the pedlars from coming to their State. We
removed from Richmond to Hamburg, S.C., and manufactured in the same
way. This was in 1835 and ’36.

There was another company doing the same kind of business at Augusta,
Geo., by the name Case, Dyer, Wadsworth & Co., and Seth Thomas was
making the cases and movements for them….”

Thanks to Mr. Ross Burton for sending me these photos. If you are collector, please pitch in with more facts!

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2 thoughts on “Hamburg Clocks

  1. I am interested in purchasing a Hamburg, South Carolina clock. Please let me know where I might find one. Sincerely, Leo Eubanks

    • Hello Leo, I am not a collector so can’t help you much, people lay in wait a good while before they stumble on one. They do show up on ebay, this post gives some keywords. Good luck!

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