George Escol Sellers (November 26, 1808 – January 1, 1899) was an American businessman, mechanical engineer, and inventor. He is associated with designing railroad locomotives and related equipment. He was the target of a confusing name appropriation by author Mark Twain.
Sellers was born on November 26, 1808, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His birthplace was near the Philadelphia Mint in a neighborhood known as Mulberry Court. Sellers' parents were Coleman Sellers and Sophonisba. He had one older brother Charles, born in 1806; two younger sisters Elizabeth, born in 1810; and Anna, born in 1824; and two younger brothers Harvey, born in 1813; and Coleman II, born in 1827. His paternal grandfather Nathan Sellers (wife Elizabeth Coleman) was known for artwork of wire paper molds. His father and many ancestors had been engineers; his maternal grandfather was Charles Willson Peale. He was educated at public schools and studied for five years with tutor Anthony Bolmar at his academy in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Sellers first obtained employment of his father's and grandfather's firm, Nathan & David Sellers, upon completing his private school education in Philadelphia. The business made machinery for producing wire and paper. The company was the first to use forged frames to build locomotives. They also did work for the United States Mint. Sellers' elder brother Charles was employed there too. It was this work that furnished inspiration for his many engineering writings. When Nathan Sellers died in 1830, the business was reorganized. Coleman Sellers and his two sons then ran the business. As a consequence of the Depression of 1837 the company then became insolvent and closed.
Sellers then moved to Cincinnati with his brother Charles and established a factory for making lead pipe from hot fluid lead. He patented his invention of the machinery that was capable of doing this. This business was eventually sold out and merged into a company that was a major producer of lead pipe in the United States. Sellers then partnered with Josiah Lawrence, a Cincinnati businessman, and organized a wire manufacturing company called Globe Rolling Mills. Here he introduced machinery of his own design that was more efficient in producing lead pipe and wire. Eventually he sold his interest in the company by 1850. In 1851 he undertook the manufacture of railroad locomotives for the Panama Railway. He invented a railroad engine for climbing mountains of heavy inclined planes. Sellers was engaged in the manufacture and sale of railroad equipment for several years in the 1850s. Sellers became interested in mining operations in southern Illinois in the 1860s. He spent the remainder of his career pursuing mechanical engineering and design.
He was an able engineer and mechanic and took out many patents relating to improvements in railroad locomotives, particularly the type he built for the Panama Railway. He also patented various art inventions, in which he was involved with from time to time. He invented a hill climbing railroad locomotive that was defined as an engine boiler with gearing for working heavy grades, patented as US7498A granted July 9, 1850.
Sellers invented a process for making paper from vegetable fiber. He designed machinery for the manufacture of pipes continuously from molten lead and was given patent number US1908 A on December 17, 1840, for the machinery.
Sellers had a deep interest in archaeology. He wrote several articles relating to the relics of the mound builders of Illinois. One published by Smithsonian Institution was on the aborigines' method of making earthenware salt pans. He also wrote detailed articles on how the local American Indians made the arrowheads and stone age tools. He had a substantial collection of pottery and implements of the prehistoric tribes of the Ohio valley. He personally became so skilled at making arrowheads that some specimens of his craft were on display at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
Sellers took up residence to Chattanooga, Tennessee, upon retirement. He lived on Mission Ridge. He particularly indulged his taste for arts and the society of artists all his life. Sellers died at his home in Chattanooga when he was 90 years old on January 1, 1899.
Sellers had recognized artistic talent. Artist Thomas Sully urged him at an early age to become a portraitist, and offered to teach him. It is to be noted that Sellers' grandfather was Charles Wilson Peale and his uncle was Rembrandt Peale. It was Sellers's opinion that Raphaelle Peale was considered to be the most talented of Charles's artist children. With others he organized one of the earliest social organizations of artists in Philadelphia. However, his natural inclination of mechanical interest ruled his vocational life.
Mark Twain in his novel The Gilded Age has a fictional character – a satirical exploitative capitalist rascal without redeeming social value – called Colonel Mulberry Sellers.  The first edition of that book actually used the name "Eschol Sellers." The names were further transmutated when the work became a play. The use of "Eschol" was a carefully considered decision, with apocryphal descriptions of its antecedents. This is explained further at the beginning of Twain's later novel The American Claimant as being Sellers of Philadelphia, who sued to have his name removed from the novel. While the next editions of Twain's novel removed the name "Eschol" name, he ultimately put in the name "Mulberry Sellers." Mulberry just happens to be the name of the neighborhood in Philadelphia where Sellers was born and raised. In fact, this unwanted connection continued to be repeated, even unto Sellers's obituaries.