Luther Goddard of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. An inlaid mahogany cased tall case clock of an unusual design.

This well proportioned tall clock case is constructed in mahogany and New England white pine is used as a secondary wood. The case design features a full compliment of inlays. These are comprised of mahogany veneers and lightwood selections that exhibits a strong contrast in color. The case retains an excellent older finish that has mellowed into a rich patina.

This case stands on a cut out bracket base. Four feet raise the case up off the floor. These are applied to a double stepped molding which is secured to the base on three sides. The base panel is trimmed with a broad cross-banded mahogany border. The wood selected for this location was chosen for the variation in its color. Each of the four interior corners of this cross-banded frame are fitted with large quarter fan inlays. Each fan is constructed with four individual petals. They are sand shaded on one edge to provide visual depth. A banding of mahogany conforms to the shape inside the fans and the outer frame. This banding is also used to form a diamond shaped interior frame which centers a full patera in the center of the panel. This patera is constructed with 16 individual fan shaped blades. One edge on each blade is shaded. Below the lower waist molding is an inlaid dropped apron resembling a scalloped pattern. In clock case construction, this detail is more traditional constructed by applying the scalloping on top of the panel. It is unusual to see it inlaid. The waist molding in complex and transitions the base section up into the waist. The waist section is fitted with a large tomb-stone shaped waist door. This door is formatted with a molded edge, a cross-banded framing, a thin light line inlay and a section of mahogany that is nicely striped. In the arch of this door is an additional inlaid fan. The center of the door features a patera. This patera has blades that feature straight sides. In the lower section of the door is a pattern of inlay that is best described as stylized arrows or darts. This is a pattern or decorative detail that I have not seen before in furniture design. Through the waist door, one can access the two drive weights and brass faced pendulum bob. The corners of the waist are fitted with very unusually form columns. These three dimensionally shaped and are line inlaid along their full length. They terminate in shaped wooden capitals. Above the columns, the case is inlaid with a bookend pattern. The bonnet or hood features a non-traditional form. Shaped moldings are formatted in such a manner that they form twin peaks in the place of fret-work. The visual effect is striking. The area created below this is decorated with inlays that include cross-banding, light line framing, two bladed quarter fans and two stars. A central inlaid final plinth supports a brass finial in the center of the case. Two additional finials are positioned on the outer corners of the hood. Fully turned and line inlaid bonnet columns visually support the upper bonnet moldings.  These are mounted in brass capitals and are free standing.  The sides of the hood are fitted with diamond shaped side lights. These are trimmed with applied moldings and opens are fitted with glass. The arched bonnet door is veneered. It is fitted with glass and opens to access the painted iron dial.

This imported English dial, having a Wilson false plate features a moon phase or lunar calendar mechanism in the arch. The time track is done in two separate formats. The hours are indicated in Roman numerals. The five minute markers are painted in an Arabic form. A subsidiary seconds dial and month calendar can be seen inside the time ring. The four spandrel areas are colorfully decorated with colorful florals.

This fine movement is constructed in brass and is good quality.  Four turned pillars support the two brass plates. These pillars are an unusual form in that they incorporate a cone design in their structure. Other Goddard movements are known with the same post shaping. 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.  The snail is unusual design in that it is constructed with a series of pins mounted in the hour gear. This clock will strike each hour on the hour.  This is done on a cast iron bell which is mounted above the movement. 


About Luther Goddard of Grafton, Shrewsbury and Worcester, Massachusetts.

Luther Goddard Clockmaker, Watchmaker, Silversmith, Jeweler and Baptist Minister. working in the towns of Grafton, Shrewsbury and Worcester, Massachusetts.

Luther Goddard was born February 28, 1762 in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. He was the cousin of Simon Willard and is thought to have trained or more appropriately apprenticed under him as early as 1778 at the age of 16. This indenture is thought to have lasted five years through 1783. He is then recorded as working in Shrewsbury in 1784 through 1817 as a clockmaker, watchmaker and as a silversmith. In 1784, Luther married Elizabeth Dakin on June 19. They had at least two children that worked in the clock, watch and silver trades. Parley Goddard, born in 1787, began training under his father in 1800. His brother Daniel, born in 1796, started training when he was 13. It is thought that Luther also trained his second cousin Nichols Goddard, born 1773 and died in 1823. Nicholas becomes one of Vermont’s most prolific clockmakers working most of his life in the town of Rutland. In 1803, Luther formed what must have been a brief partnership with James Hamilton as Goddard & Hamilton. It is recorded that in 1807, Luther attended the estate sale of the Norwich, Connecticut clockmaker Thomas Harland. Here, he is said to have purchased a set of clockmakers tools. In 1809, he relocated his shop to Shrewsbury Hill. His shop, said to be about 18 feet square was one story and had a hip roof. It had a lean to attached to the back for the casting process. It is in this location that he began to manufacturer pocket watches and is credited making the first American watch and also as being the first American to make a significant attempt to make watches in quantity. His life time output of watches is estimated to be approximately 600. His silvered cased examples are thought to have originally sold for approximately $60. This would have been about the the same cost as a tall case clock. Today, his watches are prized by collectors. This first watch venture included his son Parley under the firm name of Luther Goddard & Son. Their timing was pretty good as imports were blocked by Jefferson and the “Jefferson Embargo” during the War of 1812. By 1815 the market was again flooded with imports and the watch business slowed. It is thought they produced approximately 600 or so watches by 1817. Some of the other firm names that were related to this venture are “Luther Goddard,” “L. Goddard & Son,” “L&P Goddard,” “L. Goddard & Co.,” “D&P Goddard & Co.,” etc… In 1817, Luther moves to Worcester, Massachusetts with his son Daniel and continues to repair watches and clocks, silversmithing as well as preaching as a Baptist minister. This shop was located on Main Street across from Daniel Waldo’s store. Luther dies in Worcester on May 24, 1842.


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