Aaron Willard Jr., of Boston, Massachusetts. A gilt frame wall timepiece or banjo clock. 219013

This outstanding Federal Massachusetts Timepiece or “Banjo clock” was made by Aaron Willard Jr., of Boston, Massachusetts circa 1825.

The case is constructed in mahogany and features mahogany frames that retain their original gilding. The gilding remains in excellent original condition. The frames are fitted with reverse painted or eglomise decorated tablets that are also in excellent original condition. These exhibit a very high level of artistic skill. The detail work, which is enhanced by the vibrant colors is very good. The lower tablet is titled, “America” in a banner below the scene. Depicted on the left is Minerva the Goddess of Wisdom. She is poised with her left arm outstretched and down towards the to the oval opening that allows one to view the motion of the brass faced pendulum bob that swings behind the glass. Here, the sun is depicted as rising into the sky. To the right is a seated woman of classic beauty. She is depicted with a headdress, a long flowing dress and a cap. This figure is known to historians as “The Plumed Goddess” or more commonly called toady “The Genius of America.” She becomes a representation of the Union celebrating its independence and the expression of the newly formed Republics’ optimism of this new country. She is depicted holding Mercury’s staff is sitting on a number of American goods that are traded long distances. The ship in the background re-enforces this thought. The goods include bails of cotton or perhaps tobacco as well as other commodities. This scene is set against the morning sky of a bright new day. The sun’s radiants reaching to the heavens. The throat tablet is decorated with a traditional theme. The colors compliment those used in the lower tablet. The sidearms, finial and dial bezel are brass. The dial bezel is fitted with glass and opens to a painted iron dial. This dial features a traditional time ring that is formatted with Roman hour numerals. The time is indicated by wonderfully hand filed steel hands. A trait of most Aaron Willard wall clocks. The time only movement is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. Please note that the original time weight descends down a channel in the center of the case directly below the works. This channel is framed in pine. The movement features brass construction. The two brass rectangular plates frame the gearing are secured by four brass pillars. You will also notice the “A. WILLARD JR / BOSTON” die-stamp in the upper left corner. As is the tradition of repairman of the period, the front plate bears a number of very interesting date engravings. These serve as a record of the clocks’ being serviced over the years. The movement is mounted to the backboard with two thru-bolt screws that are diagonally positioned on the plates. They secure the backplate to the wooden backboard. The pendulum is support by a bridge suspension post. Overall, the movement is excellent quality which is quite typical of this Maker. The pendulum is constructed with a steel rod and a brass faced lead bob. The brass face is of coarse visible through the lower opening in the front door. The motion of this indicates the clock is operating. This attractive clock measures approximately 34.5 inches long to the top of the finial. It was made circa 1820.

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About Aaron Willard Junior of Boston, Massachusetts.

Aaron Willard Jr. was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts on June 29, 1783. He had the good fortune of being born into America’s leading clockmaking family. His father Aaron and uncle Simon had recently moved from the rural community of Grafton to Roxbury. In Roxbury they began a very productive career of manufacturing high quality clocks in this new ideal location. Based on the traditions of the day, it is thought that Aaron Jr. probably learned the skill of clockmaking from his family. We have owned a large number of wall timepieces or more commonly called banjo clocks that were made by this talented maker. Based on the numbers seen in the marketplace, it is logical to assume he was one of the most prolific makers of this form. We have also owned a fair number of tall case clocks, Massachusetts shelf clocks and gallery clocks that were made by him. Aaron Jr. retired from clockmaking sometime around 1850 and moved to Newton, Massachusetts. He died there on May 2nd, 1864.

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