•  Fall 2015 | Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

openS october 10, 2015


etween 1766 and 1771 
clockmaker Benjamin Wil-
lard (1743–1803) designed 
and manufactured the clock 

shown here while he made his home 
in Lexington, Massachusetts. He had 
moved to town to train in his craft, 
likely with established clockmaker 
Nathaniel Mulliken (1722–1767) 
sometime in 1766. Mulliken died 
soon after, Willard stayed in Lexing-
ton to make clocks with Mulliken’s 
teenaged son until the end of 1771. 
 A sophisticated device for its day, 
this clock measured hours, minutes, 
seconds and days of the month. But it 
did more than record passing time; it 
also conveyed a moral lesson. Willard 
decorated the arch above the clock’s 
dial with an engraved bird, possi-
bly an eagle, and the Latin motto 

Keeping Time

clOckmakers and cOllectOrs

“Tempus Fugit” or “Time Flies,”  
reminding the viewer to use his or her 
time well (detail seen on the newsletter 
cover). This intriguing clock is one  
of over 50 that will be on view in the 
exhibition, “Keeping Time: Clock-
makers and Collectors,” starting  
October 10, 2015.
 Along with the stories of some  
of the craftsmen and entrepreneurs 
that brought clocks to American con-
sumers from the 1700s and into the 
1900s, this exhibition will discuss 
some of the collectors who have   
enriched the museum’s collection, 
such as Ruth (1925–1982) and Willis 
(1896–1969) Michael. Mrs. Michael’s 
gift of over 140 pieces from her hus-
band’s collection is an important part 
of the museum’s timepiece holdings. 
Willis Michael, a tool and die maker 

first “got the [collecting] bug” in the 
 His collection grew to include   
hundreds of clocks, as well as watches, 
tools, books and automata. The   
Michaels even built a special display 
area for the collection in their Penn-
sylvania home. When Michael died  
in 1969, colleagues in the antique 
clock world heralded him as affable, 
helpful and “the dean of American 
collectors.”  Soon after, Mrs. Michael 
began making a series of gifts from 
the collection to the museum in honor 
of her husband’s lifelong involvement 
in Freemasonry. The museum’s collec-
tion is much richer for the Michaels’ 
enthusiasm and generosity.  We hope 
you will come learn about them   
and the clock makers they and other 
collectors have admired.  

Table Clock, ca. 1660.  Johann Frauenpriess (dates unknown), Dresden,  

Germany. Gift of Mrs. willis R. Michael, 85.108.25. Photograph by David bohl.

sundial, 1760–1780. Thomas booth (dates unknown), london, 

England. Museum Purchase, 98.029. Photograph by David bohl.