Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Like Clockwork: The Mechanical Ingenuity and Craftsmanship of Isaiah Lukens (1779-1846)
by Fox, Elizabeth, M.A., The George Washington University, 2018, 171; 10928411
Abstract (Summary)

Isaiah Lukens of Horsham, Pennsylvania was a renowned mechanic of his age. Having apprenticed to his father Seneca Lukens, he set out from his provincial residence in 1811 to establish himself as clock- and watchmaker in Philadelphia, where he developed a greater understanding of the mechanical arts. In addition to his tall case clocks, Lukens’ various creations included tower clocks, most notably in the Pennsylvania State House in 1828; odometers; a model of Charles Redheffer’s perpetual motion machine; and air rifles. During his travels to Europe, Lukens aided in the improvement of other medical instruments like the lithotripter. These inventions demonstrated his mechanical ingenuity, catapulting him to fame in Philadelphia’s literary and scientific organizations, namely as Vice President of The Franklin Institute.

The graduate thesis explores the working life, craftsmanship, and scientific legacy of Isaiah Lukens in early nineteenth-century Philadelphia. It describes the tools, methods, and designs Lukens utilized in his clock commissions and how they encouraged him to partake in other scientific pursuits, thereby influencing the development of his mechanical inventions. The thesis also presents Lukens’ relationships with inventors and clockmakers like Joseph Saxton of Philadelphia, signifying Lukens’ prominence within Philadelphia’s intellectual circles. Through the diversification of his clockmaking trade, Isaiah Lukens distinguishes himself from other Philadelphian artisans as a versatile machinist whose scientific contributions impacted America’s preindustrial trades.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Thomas, Erin Kuykendall
Commitee: Craighill, Marcee F., Fitzgerald, Oscar P.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Decorative Arts & Design History
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 58/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, American history, Design
Keywords: Clockmaker, Independence Hall, Industrialization, Lukens, Mechanic, Philadelphia
Publication Number: 10928411
ISBN: 978-0-438-30516-8
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