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Clockmaker and silversmith’s account book

Identifier: MSS 0096-Item 0022

Scope and Contents

This ledger was kept by Robinson Perkins, a New Hampshire clockmaker and silversmith, between 1801 and 1831. Newspapers and other printed clippings were pasted to many pages in the volume in the third quarter of the nineteenth century.

This double-entry ledger contains Perkins’s accounts with various customers, debtors, and creditors, most of whom lived near Jaffrey or Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. He kept an alphabetical index of account holders at the back of the ledger. Much of Perkins’s work consisted of making and repairing clocks, watches, and silver goods. In addition to watch glasses and silver spoons, it appears that Perkins sold a wide variety of metalwork and ceramics, including pudding pans, chamber pots, porringers, and pails. Perkins also earned cash and credit by painting signs, taking legal depositions, and lending out his chaise and sleigh. He occasionally sold livestock, dyestuffs, and textiles. Account holders used a mixture of cash, goods, and services to pay Perkins. Common payments included butter, brass, clock plates, wood, shoes, spinning and weaving. Several men made wooden cases for Robinson’s clocks, including Ebenezer Lincoln and Thomas Tarbell.

A large portion of Perkins’s customers were military officers, and occasionally commissioned him to produce cartridge boxes and breast plates and to repair pistols. In his account with Simon Warren, Perkins noted that on June 29, 1813, he had produced “a clock with a second hand, day of the month, day of the week, and moon’s age” costing seventeen dollars, which was delivered to Captain Oliver Warren.

There is also a loose leaf of paper that has been laid into the volume entitled “an account of what I expended in repairing the house & shop,” in which Perkins enumerated expenses incurred between June 25 and November 7, 1825. These costs included purchases of clapboards, shingles, nails, boards, and linseed oil.

Numerous pages in the volume have been torn out. Newspaper clippings and other printed materials were pasted onto many other pages, probably in the third quarter of the nineteenth century. Most of these clippings appear to be poems and short works of fiction, perhaps taken from literary magazines and other periodicals. There is also an excerpt from an Independence Day speech by Henry Ward Beecher.

This volume is bound in brown leather over boards with tooled borders around the front and back covers. There are also six tooled bands on the volume’s spine. The volume contains 334 pages of unlined laid paper with handwritten notations in black ink. The first page reads “Robinson Perkins’s Accompt Book No. 2 Jaffrey May ye 12th 1801.” The watermark “L. BEMIS” is visible on some pages in the volume. A watermark of a plow is visible on other pages.


  • Creation: 1801 January 16-1831 February 15
  • Creation: circa 1850s-1870s


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical and Historical Note

This ledger was kept by Robinson Perkins, a New Hampshire clockmaker and silversmith, between 1801 and 1831. Perkins was born in Methuen, Massachusetts, on December 22, 1766, the son of Joseph Perkins and Ruth Clark Perkins. The family moved to Jaffrey, New Hasmphire, during Robinson Perkins’s childhood, where his father became a captain in the Jaffrey Military Company. Perkins married Peddy Shepardson in 1792 and the couple had at least four children. He first worked as a blacksmith before establishing himself as a clockmaker and silversmith in Jaffrey. The Perkins family remained in Jaffrey until at least 1810, after which time they moved to nearby Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. Robinson Perkins died on February 20, 1847. One of his tall case clocks is owned by the Jaffrey Historical Society.

Many of the pages in this account book bear the watermark “L. BEMIS” with a plow. It is probable that the paper in this volume was produced by Luke Bemis at his mill in Watertown, Massachusetts between 1794 and 1801.

Annett, Albert and Alice E.E. Lehtinen. History of Jaffrey, New Hampshire (Middle Monadnock): An Average Country Town in the Heart of New England. Salem, MA: Higginson Book Company, 1997. Bidwell, John. American Paper Mills, 1690-1832: A Directory of the Paper Trade with Notes on Products, Watermarks, Distribution Methods, and Manufacturing Techniques. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College Press, 2013. New Hampshire Historical Society website, “Perkins, Robinson.” (accessed June 21, 2018) Jaffrey Historical Society website, “The Perkins Clock.” (accessed June 21, 2018) Methuen, Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 (accessed via on June 21, 2018) New Hampshire, Wills and Probate Records, 1643-1982 (accessed via on June 21, 2018) 1810 Federal Census (accessed via on June 21, 2018) 1820 Federal Census (accessed via on June 21, 2018) 1830 Federal Census (accessed via on June 21, 2018) Information derived from the collection.


1 volume : 334 pages ; 30 cm


This ledger was kept by Robinson Perkins, a New Hampshire clockmaker and silversmith, between 1801 and 1831. Newspapers and other printed clippings were pasted to many pages in the volume in the third quarter of the nineteenth century.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired, 1956

Related Materials

This item forms part of MSS 0096 Account Books and Ledgers collection.

Related Materials in Other Repositories

Robinson Perkins, Clockmaker’s Book, 1989-131 (M), New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, New Hampshire.

Shelving Summary

Item 0022: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0096

Processing Information

Processed by Marrette Pearsall, 2012. Further processing and encoding by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, June 2018.

Finding aid for clockmaker and silversmith's account book
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2018 June 21
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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Newark DE 19717-5267 USA