Aaron Willard Jr. tall case clock. Boston, Massachusetts. A very colorful example.

This very attractive case exhibits bold proportions. This is due to the fact that the dial is slightly oversized measuring 13 inches across. The standard in New England was 12 inches. As a result, this case has a larger presence than most and is constructed in the finest mahogany veneers. The clock measures approximately 7 feet 10 inches or 94 inches tall to the top of the center finial, 19.75 inches wide and 10 inches deep.

This mahogany case stands on four nicely formed flared French feet. The feet and the decorative drop apron are visually separated from the base by a thin applied molding. The base panel features an excellent selection of veneer that is vertical positioned. The perimeter is cross banded. A step and cove shape molding transitions the base section up through to the waist. A large rectangular shaped waist door provide access to the interior of the case. Here, the wooden pendulum rod, brass faced bob, rating nut and the two red painted tin can weights are accessible. This door is hinged on the right and locks closed on the right. A shaped molding trims the perimeter of the door. The veneer selected for this location is outstanding. It features a vibrant crotch pattern which is vertically positioned. The sides of the waist or case are fitted with reeded quarter columns. These terminate in brass quarter capitals on both ends. A cove molding transitions the form from the waist to the hood or bonnet. This bonnet is fitted with a open fret work design. It features an interesting complex variation of the traditional New England pattern. This is supported by three reeded and capped plinths that are surmounted by three brass finials. The finials feature a greek key design that forms a band around the center of the ball. Fully turned and reeded bonnet columns visually support the upper bonnet molding. They are mounted in brass capitals and are free standing. The sides of the bonnet are fitted with tombstone shaped side lights. The arched bonnet door is fitted with glass and opens to access the colorfully painted iron dial.

This iron dial was paint decorated by the Boston dial manufactures and ornamental artists Nolen & Curtis. The four spandrel areas are decorated with the very unusual color combination of light green, light red, yellow and gilding. The design also incorporates gilt highlights, some of which are elevated on applied or raised gesso beads. The automated feature of a lunar calendar is located in the arch of this dial. This dial also displays the Arabic style hours, minutes and seconds in the traditional format. As is the case with many later Boston painted dials, this clock does not have a calendar day display. The dial is signed by the Clockmaker in script lettering. This signature is located where the calendar date is normally displayed. This is above the Arabic hour numeral six. It also lists the place location as “BOSTON.” The hands are nicely formed and very well made. This style of hand was very popular on Willard dish dial shelf clocks. It is interesting to see them used here on a tall clock.

This fine movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. Four turned pillars support the two brass plates. Hardened steel shafts support the polished steel pinions and brass gearing. The winding drums are grooved. The escapement is designed as a recoil format. The movement is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is a two train or a time and strike design having a rack and snail striking system. As a result, it will strike each hour on the hour. This is done on a cast iron bell which is mounted above the movement.

This beautiful clock was made circa 1815. It stands approximately 7 feet 10 inch tall to the top of the center finial. It is inventory number 218031.

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 and began a 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. Aaron Jr. retired from clockmaking sometime around 1850 and moved to Newton, Massachusetts. He died on May 2nd, 1864.


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