Ephraim Willard of Boston Massachusetts. A inlaid mahogany case tall clock.

This inlaid mahogany case tall clock was made by Ephraim Willard of Boston, Massachusetts.

This is a fine example that exhibits wonderful narrow proportions. The mahogany wood selected for the construction of this case is nicely figured and varies in coloration. The case is alive.

This late example is elevated on four applied bracket flared French feet. The form is excellent. At the front of the case, follow the interior line as it transitions from one foot, bumping slightly at a small spur and then off to form the subtlety shaped drop apron and along to the next foot. This is a very nice detail. A light line inlay runs across the bracket molding before it steps back to the base. The base panel is line inlaid with a thin crass banded pattern of darker wood and this is framed with thin light wood inlay as a frame. The panel is well formed and positioned in a vertical format.

The base transitions into the waist section with a flared molding. The waist section is long and quite narrow. This accentuates the pleasing form of the case. The rectangular shaped hinged waist door features and excellent grain pattern. It is fitted with an applied molding along its perimeter. This door is also line inlaid in a pattern that conforms to the door shape. The door is fitted with a lock and brass keyhole surround. The sides of this case are fitted with fluted quarter columns that are stopped with brass and terminate in brass quarter capitals.

The waist transitions into the hood section with a flared throat molding. This bonnet features a traditional pierced and open lacy fretwork design and is surmounted with three brass finials. Each of the finials are mounted on fluted plinths. The bonnet door is an arched form and is fitted with glass. The two smoothly turned and brass stop fluted bonnet columns are positioned on either side of this door. They are free standing and mounted into brass capitals. They provide the illusion of supporting the upper bonnet molding. Tombstone shaped sidelights are fitted into the sides of the bonnet. Each of these is fitted with glass and provide a view of the mechanism.

The eight-day time and strike movement is brass and is of fine quality. It is designed to strike each hour on the hour. It strikes the hour a cast iron bell that is mounted above the movement. This clock is weight powered and wound with a key.

The iron dial is colorfully painted. Floral patterns decorate each of the four spandrel areas of this dial. The artwork in the lunette is very well done. An urn is centrally depicted in a window that is framed with curtains. Applied gesso beading and gilt work decorates the scene. This dial displays the time in a traditional format having large Roman style numerals that mark the hours and Arabic numerals are positioned at the five minute marker locations. A subsidiary seconds dial is located below the Roman hour numeral XII and the calendar date is indicated below the center arbor. This dial is signed by the maker just below the calendar aperture. It is reads “E. WILLARD / WARRANTED. / BOSTON.”

This clock was made while Ephraim lived in Boston and before he moved to New York. This would date it to about 1804 and may have been one of the last clocks he made based on the styling of this case. It stands approximately 7 feet 11.5 inches tall to the top of the finial. It is approximately 19.5 inches wide and 9 inches deep.

About Ephraim Willard of Medford, Roxbury and Boston, Massachusetts.

Ephraim Willard was born in Grafton, Massachusetts on March 18th, 1755. He parents, Benjamin Willard and Sarah (Brooks) Willard had twelve children. Four of the boys became clockmakers. Little is known of Ephraim’s early life in Grafton where he probably learned clock making from his older brothers Benjamin and Simon. Simon Willard (1753-1848) was to become America’s most famous clockmaker. It is recorded that Ephraim did march with his brothers in response to the Lexington Alarm on April 19,1775. His service lasted all of one week and five days. In 1777, he took up residence in Medford, Massachusetts and was listed as a clock and watchmaker. In 1784, a lawsuit identifies him a a trader living in Boston. In 1795 through 1801, he is listed as a Roxbury resident in the Roxbury Tax Records. In 1801, he purchased land and a house on Sheaf’s Lane in Boston. The deed for this transaction describes Ephraim as a “Merchant.” Financial difficulties followed over the next two years and Ephraim was then described as a Clockmaker. In 1804, he is listed in the Boston Tax Records as a clockmaker on Elliot Street. In 1805 Ephraim moved to New York City and is listed occasionally as a watchmaker until 1832. Ephraim, like his older brother Benjamin, was a bit of a wanderer. It seems his production as a Clockmaker was a fraction of what his three other brothers produced. A small number of tall clocks are know. The cases he selected to house his clocks range in form from very simple and reserved to what are considered the best the Boston area cabinetmaker had to offer.

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