E. Howard & Co., of Boston, MA. Model No. 25. Astronomical Floor Standing Regulator Clock, 90-days. 221045

The E. Howard & Company of Boston, Massachusetts, made this floor-standing regulator circa 1860. This clock is cataloged as the Model Number 25 and features a black walnut case. This clock is reported to have been owned by an Executive VP of the Central of Georgia Railway. It was given to him as a gift when he retired. It is very likely that this example had a long useful life in the Railroad System of Georgia. It was most like decommissioned due to the availability of newer, more current technology. The 1874 E. Howard catalog describes these timekeepers as “Astronomical Clocks for Observatories, Regulators for Watchmaker’s use and for Railroad Depots”; further, it states that “it has four holes and the pallets jeweled, and a mercurial pendulum thoroughly adjusted to heat and cold, which enables us to detect the variation of one-hundredth of a second per day.”

This regulator has a very unusual dial that I believe is original to this clock. It is brass and measures approximately 14.5 inches in diameter. It is unusual in that the brass dial is painted with a thick coat of white enamel. The paint is well preserved and in very good original condition. The dial plate displays an astronomical time format. All of which are engraved into the surface of the dial and then filled with black paint. The contrast is excellent. This dial shows very well and exhibits appropriate age. The Maker’s name is engraved across the middle of the dial-in with large script lettering. It reads, “E. Howard & Co. – Makers. Boston.” This dial has a non-traditional time display in that the hours, minutes and seconds are displayed independently. The minutes are displayed along the perimeter. This closed minute ring is divided into sixty divisions. Each of the five-minute markers is located on the outside of the minute ring and indicated with Arabic-style numerals. The hour dial, displayed in a 12-hour format, is positioned above the seconds display. Each hour is represented with a Roman-style hour numeral. Below this is the seconds dial. This is also divided into sixty increments. Each of the ten-second divisions is marked with the corresponding Arabic numeral. Within this subsidiary dial, the “Patented / May 11th, 1858” is engraved or displayed here. This date refers to the patent granted to Henry C. Fay of Troy, New York. His escapement design was very delicate and is a version of a “Walking Paw” escapement. The viewing window is centered in the seconds registrar and is positioned so that one can view the action of the escapement. Because of the fragile nature and the difficulty in setting Fay’s escapement up, the Fay design was not used very long by Howard and was replaced with a deadbeat version. It seems very few clocks that feature Fay’s pattern were produced. This clock has the more user-friendly deadbeat version. The second hand is on the escape-wheel arbor. The minute hand, due to its length, is counterweighted behind the dial. The dial is protected by glass that is fitted into a wooden bezel that is hinged on the right.

This movement is heavily constructed. The two large rectangular shape plates are decorated with scraping and are supported by six large turned pillars. The pillars are secured with screws. The front plate of this clock was planned for a Fay escapement and had been drilled to accommodate the necessary fittings. They appear to have never been used. The movement is also fitted with three brass dust covers that are secured with thumb screws. Two grooved barrels are mounted on the back side of the movement. This outboard arrangement is very desirable. The two great wheels drive a single pinion, and the winding arbor has uncrossed stop-work wheels. The works are powered by two cast-iron weights. These are supported by the correct five spoked brass pulleys. The weights run in channels provided in the interior of the case. They are not visible. With the power taken from two weights, this movement is designed to run for a 90-day duration. The pendulum suspension hangs from a frame that traverses the gearing on the front plate and mounts to a bridge fitted to the tops of the plates. The rectangular steel frame is connected to the delicate jeweled escape wheel and pallet pivots. The escape wheel is cut as a deadbeat. This movement is also fitted with maintaining power. This clock is fitted with a brass and steel pendulum rod, a decorative rating nut, and four glass jar mercury pendulum bob.

The pendulum frame is constructed in steel and brass. Four glass jars are filled with mercury. The mercury compensates for changes in temperature and keeps the center of gravity stable over the length of the entire unit. At the bottom, decorative brass acorns are used as nuts. The rating nut is also an acorn shape and engraved with graduations for adjustment. At the top are cups that one would use if one wanted to add weight while adjusting the rate. This pendulum swings in front of the clockwork. It is also positioned in front of a fancy swing indicator. This is a replacement.

The black walnut case is purpose-built. The interior access is through the waist door, which is pinned at the bottom and, as a result, tips out from the top when the spring-loaded lock is disengaged by turning the key at the top. The base is substantial. An applied molding rests on the floor. The base section features an inset panel on three sides. The sides of the waist are also paneled. The door in the front of the waist features a dome top and is fitted with glass. Access through this door allows one to adjust the rating of the pendulum. A multi-shaped molding transitions the waist to the neck of the clock. This is nicely tapered and supports the round head, often called a “drum-head.” The construction of this is evident from the sides. It is laminated with six layers of wood and then shaped. The circular bezel is also nicely shaped and fitted with glass. It is hinged on the right and locks closed with a key.

This clock is approximately 78 inches tall. At the lower base molding, it measures 21 inches wide and 12.5 inches deep. This is an early example and was made circa 1860.

The Model 25 is a popular clock, and as a result, examples due come into the marketplace. This one, with its white dial presentation, may be unique and is a very attractive example.

This clock is $85,000.


About Edward Howard of Boston, Massachusetts.

The E. Howard & Company succeeded the Howard & Davis firm in 1857. The Howard and Davis firm was comprised of Edward Howard and David P. Davis and was established in 1842. Both men served their clock apprenticeship under the guidance of Aaron Willard Jr in Boston. The Howard & Davis firm made high-grade clocks, precision balances, sewing machines, fire engines, watches. After the dissolution of Howard and Davis, Edward Howard became Boston’s leading manufacturer of weight-driven residential, commercial, and tower clocks. Howard also sold a large number of watchman and salve clock systems. These sold well in the late 1800s.

It has been said that the E. Howard Clock company never made an inexpensive clock, and everything they made was of very good quality. As a result, Howard clocks have become very collectible and are prized by their owners. Today, the E. Howard clock name enjoys outstanding name recognition.

For a more in-depth reading of Edward Howard and his various businesses, please read “Willard’s Patent Time Pieces” written by Paul Foley.


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