"Father of the Perpetual Calendar Mechanism"
Benjamin B. Lewis
Benjamin Bennett Lewis was a native of Athens NY, born Oct 30, 1818. Orphaned at nine and, after a short experience as a clerk in a store in NYC, Lewis went to sea at fifteen and worked his way up to the position of Commander. In 1840 he went to Huron OH and engaged in the (legal) drug trade, also dealing in jewelry, clocks and watches. It was while there that he invented the calendar mechanism.
In 1859, Lewis moved to Connecticut, first to Forestville and then to Bristol, in order to be closer to the epicenter of the burgeoning American clockmaking industry. He settled down and married a Miss Hutchins in 1845. They had a son named Charles S., who was also an inventor; and a daughter who married G. C. Thomas of Brooklyn, NY.
The firm Burwell & Carter (William W. Carter) first manufactured the mechanism in 1859 and until 1862. Lewis had applied for an patent which was granted in on February 4, 1862. He continued to improve the design and patent those improvements in 1864, 1868 and 1881.
He supplied his mechanisms to L.F. & W.W. Carter in 1862 through 1868 and then to the Welch, Spring & Company from 1868 to 1884. Their clocks sold well and Lewis became quite wealthy.
In 1870 he formed a partnership with his son under the name B.B. Lewis & Son in Bristol. Unfortunately, this venture did not last long. Subsequently he entered the employ of the Welch, Spring & Co. and was foreman for many years. B.B. Lewis died in 1890 but his calendar mechanisms are still running strong today!
(click to enlarge)