Simon Willard's Patent Timepiece. A wall clock commonly called a 'Banjo' clock. This fine example is fitted with reeded frames and retains its original tablets.

A Simon Willard timepiece. This is the very form that Simon Willard famously patented in 1802. This U.S. Patent, signed by President Thomas Jefferson, provided Simon a period of fourteen years to produce this form exclusively. Simon’s newly engineered wall hanging timepiece was a revolutionary design and changed the clock market very quickly. This clock form is compact, reliable and an accurate eight-day time keeper.

This fine example was made during the last years of his patent. The clock case is constructed in mahogany and exhibits excellent early proportions. It features many of the construction characteristics that one likes to find in examples made by this famous Maker. This case exhibits in the following construction and design details. The top of this case is fitted with a compressed finial plinth that is nicely shaped. The head of the clock case is uniformly cut-out. The glue blocking placement in the interior of the lower box is consistent to that found in other examples signed by this Maker. This is also true of the extension blocking used in securing the lower door hinges. The joinery in the corners of the frames features a spline. The throat frame is rabbited to fit onto the throat section. The frames are unusual in that they are reeded. This reeded design became popular and used in the quarter columns found in the later roxbury tall case clocks. Several other timepiece examples are known to us that are formatted in a similar manner. An Aaron Willard Jr. example that shares this frame formatting and is pictured in Paul Foley’s book, Willard’s Patent Time Pieces on page 51. There is also a Simon Willard lower frame pictured on page 188. The throat frame is secured to the case with four screws. Brass side arms flank the throat section of the case. These are hand filed, lightly formed and pinned to the case in three locations. The center pinning is through the center diamond. The finial and bezel are also cast in brass. The bezel is fitted with glass and opens to access painted iron dial.

The enameled dial features and closed minute track that has been relined. Roman style numerals mark each hour. The hour and minute hands are made of steel. They are expertly hand filed and have been blued.

Both of the reeded mahogany frames are fitted with paint decorated glass tablets. These egloimise tablets are paint decorated in multiple colors. The white field suspends a number of gilt designs and or patterns. These designs are executed in an expert hand. The lower tablet is signed by the Maker, ‘S. Willard's / Patent.’ Both tablets are original to this clock and have undergone some minor level of professional stabilization and restoration. The skill level of this restoration is outstanding.

The time only weight driven movement is an eight-day brass construction design. It features large rectangular shaped brass plates and step train gearing. The teeth in the gear train are deeply cut. The pendulum is supported from a T-bridge suspension. The movement is mounted to the back of the case with the original through bolts.

The cast brass eagle finial surmounts the case and is mounted on a mahogany chimney plinth. This finial is a reproduction of an original form.

This is very attractive Federal Massachusetts Timepiece or ‘Banjo clock’ was made circa 1810. This clock measures approximately 34.25 inches long.

About Simon Willard of Grafton and Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Simon Willard was born in Grafton, Massachusetts on April 3, 1753. It is in Grafton that Simon learned and began a successful career as a Clockmaker. On April 19, 1775 Simon answered the Lexington alarm along with his brothers. It is thought that by 1780 he moved from Grafton and took up residence in Roxbury. Simon was a Master Clockmaker as well as an Inventor. Some of his designs or inventions include “The Improved Timepiece” or Banjo clock, a roasting jack patent that rotated meat as it cooked in the fireplace, and an alarm clock patent. In addition, he trained many men to make clocks who intern became well known Clockmakers once their apprenticeships were served. Some of which include William Cummens, Elnathan Taber, and the brothers Levi and Able Hutchins. Some of the more notable public clocks Simon built include the clock that is in The United States Capital, the one located in the U. S. Senate, and the one located in the House of Representatives. As a result, his clock were searched out by many affluent New England citizens of his day. Simon died on August 30, 1848 at the age of 95.


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