Thursday, December 01, 2011
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Abe's law office clock is ALPLM artifact of the month for December

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[December 01, 2011]  SPRINGFIELD -- Abraham Lincoln's law office clock, which still keeps accurate time in spite of a historic mouse hole chewed in the back, is the artifact of the month for December at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and is the latest in a series featuring key items from the Taper Collection recently acquired by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.

Lincoln the lawyer did not bill by the hour, but rather by the job. His ambling ways earned him the confidence and friendship of thousands of clients in at least two dozen counties across Illinois. He rarely gave the impression of being in a hurry. Yet he had to get to court on time, and used this clock, which still chimes the hours and keeps good time. He and partner William Herndon ordered it for their law office from the Chauncy Jerome factory in New Haven, Conn., in about 1850.

"It is a 30-hour clock, so one of the partners had to wind it every day, and in doing so he rubbed a knuckle along the side of the door-case. There is definitely a pattern of wear on that spot," said James Cornelius, the ALPLM Lincoln curator. "And at least one mouse lived in the bottom of the case, because a hole was chewed or clawed through the back."

Lincoln sometimes took his bumptious boys along when he played chess in his office on Sundays, to give Mary a rest. "It seems that one of the boys rubbed off some of the artwork on the glass front of the clock," Cornelius said. Some of the remaining Westminster Abbey stencil is still visible, however.

The clock will be taken off display after Dec. 31, as the clock counts down to the 2012 New Year, and another key artifact from the Taper Collection will take its place.

The artifacts of the month are displayed in the central case in the presidential museum's Treasures Gallery and include interpretive text explaining their significance. These displays also highlight the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation's Permanent Home campaign. The $27 million fundraising drive, established to ensure that the 1,500-item Louise and Barry Taper Collection remains together as a collection and is preserved in perpetuity for the benefit of the public, began in 2008 and continues through 2013.

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The story of the clock as told by the ALPLM's Lincoln curator may be viewed at:

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, in partnership with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, offers monthly artifact sponsorships entitled "An Evening of Wine, a Nibble of Cheese, and A Hint of History." The private events, hosted by a Lincoln historian, highlight a featured artifact from the Taper Collection and include light hors d'oeuvres and wine for a select number of guests. For more information on how to become a sponsor or to donate to the Permanent Home campaign, contact Phyllis Maynerich at 217-557-6250 or Event sponsorships are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation supports the educational and cultural programming of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum; fosters Lincoln scholarship through the acquisition and publication of documentary materials relating to Lincoln and his era; and promotes a greater appreciation of history through exhibits, conferences, publications, online services and other activities designed to promote historical literacy.



[Text from file received from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]

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