Boston or Roxbury, Massachusetts. An inlaid mahogany cased tall clock with lunar calendar dial. 220061

Boston area of Massachusetts circa 1795.

This case exhibits a traditional Boston form made popular by the Willard family of clockmakers and their apprentices. This example is not signed on the dial but was surely made by someone in this very active community of clockmakers. This example stands approximately 8 feet 1 inches tall to the top of the center finial. It is constructed in mahogany and retains a classic shellac finish that highlights the long sweeping grain patterns exhibited in the wood selected for the construction of this fine case. This case is also decorated with light line inlay and a central patera in the base. The secondary wood used in the construction of this case is New England white pine.

This very attractive example stands on four applied ogee bracket feet. They are applied directly to the bottom of the case and to the double stepped base molding. The base panel exhibits an excellent selection of wood. The grain is positioned horizontally and is decorated with a light inlay frame with ovolo corners. The center of the panel is inlaid with a full patera or fan. The fan is designed with a light line frame that is positioned to just contact each of the tips of the 20 individual fan pedals. Each of these is shaped on one side to provide visual depth. The waist section is long and accentuates the excellent proportions of the case. It is fitted with a large tombstone shaped waist door that is trimmed with an applied molding. The grain pattern exhibited on the door panel is vibrantly figured. A line inlay follows the shape of the panel. This door opens and one can access the two drive weights and the brass faced pendulum bob and rating nut. The sides or corners of the waist are fitted with inset quarter columns. These are fully fluted and stopped with brass rods. The columns terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet is fitted with a traditional New England style fret pattern. This is support by three final plinths that are capped at the top. Each supports a brass finial. Fully turned and brass stop fluted bonnet columns or colonnades visually support the upper bonnet molding. These are mounted in brass capitals and are free standing. The sides of the hood are fitted with tombstone shaped side lights and they are fitted with glass. The arched bonnet door is also fitted with glass and opens to access the painted iron dial.

This 13 inch wide dial features a moon phase or lunar calendar mechanism in the arch. This mechanical almanac is thought to have been a special order function. It would have been a valuable addition. Farmers would use this calendar display in order to anticipate the nights with the most available moonlight. This would aide them in scheduling their planting, tilling of the fields and harvesting. Sailors and merchants needed to know when high tide would allow their ships to sail from many of the shallower coastal ports. Many religious groups had an almost superstitious litany of rituals best performed in accordance with lunar events. One other use would be the scheduling of traveling by moonlight at night. A full moon often provides ample light to do so. The lunar month represents an inconvenient interval of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.8 seconds. A clocks lunar calendar is set at 29.5 days from new moon to new moon, a full cycle. Thus would require a 9 hour setback at the end of a single year.

The time track is formatted with Arabic style numerals in the five minute positions. The minute ring, which is dotted separates the large Roman style hour numerals. A subsidiary seconds dial and month calendar can bee seen inside the time ring in their traditional locations. Two colorful birds in floral settings are depicted inside the time ring. The four spandrel areas are decorated with colorful roses and complimentary lacy gilt patterns. This dial is not signed by the Maker.

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 clock was made circa 1795. It has the following dimensions in inches: overall height 95, width at the upper hood molding 21.5 and depth at this location 9.75. It is inventory number 220061.


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