Aaron Willard of Boston, Massachusetts. An inlaid mahogany and labeled case tall clock. 221025

This is a stately example. The dial measures 13 inches across and as a result, the case is constructed on a sligtly larger scale in order to accomdate it. The case is mahogany and it is decorated with line inlays. In addition, this is a labeled example.

This grand case exhibits excellent proportions and traditional mahogany wood selections that are accentuated by a wonderful shellac finish. It stands on four applied ogee bracket feet that are applied to the bottom of a double step molding. The mahogany used in the construction of the base panel is well grained The grain features long sweeping lines and a number of tone or color changes. It is formatted in a horizontal orientation. The base panel is also framed with a light line inlay pattern. Each of the corners are fitted with quarter fans consisting of seven individual leaves. Each of these is shaded on one edge. The result provides visual depth. The waist section is long and is fitted with a large rectangular shaped waist door. The perimeter of the door is framed with an applied molding. This door panel is line inlaid. On the back of this door is the Maker's set up label. This is thought to have been engraved and printed by the American Patriot, Paul Revere. Very few Willard clocks retain their original set up labels and as a result, this is a wonderful and important additional detail. Brass stopped fluted quarter columns flank the sides of the case. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet features an open fretwork pattern. This lacy pattern is supported by three fluted finial plinths which are capped at the top. A brass ball and spiked finial is fitted to the top of each plinth. Fully turned and brass stop fluted bonnet columns 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. Additional quarter columns are fitted into the back corners of the hood. The line inlaid bonnet door is arched and also fitted with glass. It opens to access the painted iron dial.

This iron dial measures 13 inches across. The four spandrel areas are decorated with colorful floral themes. These are framed with gilt borders. A lunar calendar is outfitted in the arch of this dial. This lunar calendar tracks the phases of the moon. The time ring is formatted with Arabic style five minute markers. A dotted minute ring separates the five minute markers from the large Roman style hour numerals. Inside the minute ring is a subsidiary seconds dial, month calendar day display and the Clockmaker’s signature. This dial is boldly signed by the Clockmaker in old english style lettering. The signature simply reads, "Aaron Willard / 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. The strike hammer is returned to the ready position via a coil spring. This clock retains its original tin cans weights and pendulum.

This fine example is nicely proportioned and stands an impressive 8 feet 4 inches or 100 inches tall to the top of the center finial. Measured at the feet, this clock is 21 inches wide and 10.25 inches deep. It was made circa 1795. This clock is inventory number 221025.

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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