Aaron Willard Massachusetts Shelf Clock. Boston, Massachusetts. ZZ6

This Massachusetts Shelf Clock was made by Aaron Willard of Boston, Massachusetts circa 1810. The case is constructed in mahogany, mahogany veneers, holey inlays and New England white pine.

This fine clock stands on four applied ogee bracket feet. They are well formed and are applied to a double step molding. The base panel features a richly grained selection of mahogany. It is framed with a line inlay pattern and a cross-banded border. The hood is features a door that frames the kidney shaped dial. The framing that supports the door in also line inlaid. This pattern is repeated in an expanded format across the top of the door. Above this is a molding that supports a large reeded plinth. This is fitted with a brass urn shaped finial. A pierced fret-work pattern helps to decorate the top. This is a very successful detail. Two additional brass urn shaped finials are positioned at the outer corners of the hood. The dial is fitted to the case with a pine mask board.

The painted iron was manufactured and painted by Spencer Nolen in Boston. It features a time ring that is formatted with large Arabic hour numerals, minute markers, quarter Arabic markers and a gilt ring. The hour numerals are displayed in a "tumbled" fashion. They are presented in an upright format. Below the time ring is a decorative area that one will find the Maker's signature. The signature is boldly signed in a script format. The working location of "BOSTON" is presented in block lettering. The framed in oval decoration is formed by applied or raised gesso designs that highlighted with gilt paint.

The weight powered time only movement is constructed in brass. The gearing is supported by steel shafts and polished steel pinions. The escapement is a recoil format. This movement is designed to run for an eight-day duration and is good quality.

This very good example was made circa 1810 and stands approximately 35 inches tall, 14 inches wide and 6.5 inches deep.


About Aaron Willard of Grafton, Roxbury and Boston, Massachusetts.

Aaron Willard was born in Grafton, Massachusetts, on October 13, 1757. Little is currently known of his early life in Grafton. His parents, Benjamin Willard (1716-1775) and Sarah (Brooks) Willard (1717-1775) of Grafton, had eleven children. Aaron was one of four brothers that trained as a clockmaker. In Grafton, he first learned the skills of clock making from his older brothers Benjamin and Simon. It is recorded that Aaron marched with them in response to the Lexington Alarm on April 19, 1775, as a private under Captain Aaron Kimball’s Company of Colonel Artemus Ward’s Regiment. Aaron re-enlisted on April 26 and was soon sent by General George Washington as a spy to Nova Scotia in November. By this time, he had reached the grade of Captain. He soon returned to Grafton to train as a clockmaker. In 1780, Aaron moved from Grafton to Washington Street in Roxbury along with his brother Simon. Here the two Willards establish a reputation for themselves as fine clock manufacturers. They were both responsible for training a large number of apprentices. Many of these became famous clock makers in their own right. The Willards dominated the clock-making industry in the Boston area during the first half of the nineteenth century. Aaron worked in a separate location in Roxbury from his brother and, in 1792, relocated about a quarter-mile away from Simon’s shop across the Boston line. Aaron is listed in the 1798 Boston directory as a clockmaker “on the Neck,” His large shop employed up to 30 people, while 21 other clock makers, cabinetmakers, dial and ornamental painters, and gilders worked within a quarter-mile radius by 1807. We have owned many tall case clocks made by this important Maker. In addition, we have also owned a good number of wall timepieces in the form of banjo clocks and numerous Massachusetts shelf clock forms.


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