Aaron Willard, Jun. Washington Street, Boston, (near Roxbury) Massachusetts. A cross-banded and inlaid case retaining the Makers' original set up label. ZZ34

This is a fine cross-banded and inlaid mahogany case tall clock that was made by Aaron Willard Jr. of Boston, Massachusetts. It features a patriotic dial with lunar calendar and the Makers’ original set up label.

This mahogany case is nicely proportioned and retains an appropriate orange shellac finish. This finish accentuates the fluid grain patterns exhibited in the mahogany veneers used in the construction of this fine example. This case stands on four flared French feet. A nicely shaped apron hangs from the base. The front base panel is framed with a cross-banded border. The wood used in this cross-banding detail exhibits a wide range of shading. This decorative detail attracts ones attention from across the room. The inner light line detail that separates the banding from the panel is composed of four separate lines of inlay. It is a complex detail and illustrates the high level of this cabinetmakers skill. This deisgn element is also used in the construction of the waist door. The large rectangular shaped door is trimmed with an applied molding. It provides access to the interior of the case. Here one will fine the two red painted tin can drive weights and the original wooden pendulum rod that supports a brass faced bob and rating nut. On the back of the door is the Clockmaker’s original set up label. It lists the “Directions for putting up the Clock.” This label is the version that implies that the clock was shipped with the movement, dial and pendulum installed in the case. This suggests that the clock was ordered and sent some distance away from Boston. Clockmaker’s labels are not often found. This is a wonderful addition to the history of this clock and is well worth mentioning. Brass stop fluted quarter columns flank the sides of the case. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The hood or bonnet features a traditional lacy free flowing pattern of fretwork. The open fretwork is support with three fluted finial plinths. Each is fitted with a brass ball and spiked finial. Turned and fluted mahogany bonnet columns are positioned on both sides of the door. These are also stopped with brass roods and are mounted in brass capitals. The bonnet door is an arched form. It is inlaid with a decorative pattern and the opening is fitted with glass.

The painted iron dial was painted by the Boston ornamental artists Nolen & Curtis. It is a 12 inch dial and features a lunar calendar or moon-phase mechanism in the arch. American shields are used to decorate the four spandrel locations. These are highlighted with raised gesso designs that are finished in gilt paint. The time ring is formatted with Roman style hour numerals. Arabic numerals are used to indicated the five-minute markers. A subsidiary seconds dial and month calendar display are located in the traditional locations. The hands are filed from steel and have been blued. They are an unusual from to be used on a tall case clock. The form is more traditionally found on Massachusetts shelf clocks of the period. These are very nicely made. This dial is signed by the clockmaker, “Aaron Willard Jr. / BOSTON.”

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 design is very reliable and is an excellent time keeper.

This is a very attractive example. The case exhibits excellent proportions and is constructed in the finest mahogany veneers. It measures approximately 7 feet 11.5 inches or 95.5 inches tall to the top of the center finial, 19.5 inches wide and 10.5 inches deep. The dial is measures 12 inches across.

This clock is inventory number ZZ-34.

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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