E. Howard & Co., Boston, Massachusetts. Model Number 11. The Keyhole. 221232

Edward Howard apprenticed as a Clockmaker under the guidance of Aaron Willard, Jr. in Boston, Massachusetts. He joined with David P. Davis, also an A. Willard Jr. apprentice in the manufacturing of high-grade wall clocks under the name of Howard & Davis in 1842. Together they became well known and respected as manufacturers of clocks, sewing machines, fire engines, and precision balances. Sometime about 1843, they took on a third partner, Luther Stephenson, and included the manufacture of tower clocks. In 1857, David P. Davis left the firm, and Howard & Davis was dissolved. Edward Howard then formed the E. Howard Clock Company which operated out of 69 Washington Street and 15 Hawley Street in Boston. This new enterprise concentrated on the manufacture and sale of clocks of various kinds.

This popular example was manufactured by the E. Howard Clock Company in Boston, Massachusetts. It is cataloged as the Model No. 11. Today, this model is often referred to as the “Keyhole” in the trade. This is due to the case form and its’ resemblance to the keyhole shape found in most doors of the period.

The case is constructed in cherry and retains its’ original faux graining. This successful design element was done at the factory with India ink and is thought to have been applied with a feather. The result is a grain pattern that replicates the vibrant figure exhibited in rosewood. The graining on this example is original to the clock and is in very good original condition. The case measures a full 31 inches in length. The nicely shaped circular wooden bezel is fitted with glass. It opens to access the painted 11-inch diameter dial. The dial is signed by the clockmaker in a script letter format. The time track is designed with a closed minute ring and large Roman-style hour numerals. The time is displayed by open moon-style hands.

Behind the dial secured to the backboard is the Movement. This is constructed in brass and is of excellent quality. Two brass rectangular-shaped plates support the steel shafts that support the gearing. The front plate is die-stamped with the company name. This reads, “E. Howard & Company / BOSTON.” The works are weight-powered or driven and incorporates a recoil escapement. It is considered a very accurate timekeeper for its small size. The cast-iron drive weight is original to this clock. The numeral “7” is cast into the weight. It has also been painted black. The pendulum hangs from a bridge that is mounted to the front plate. The wooden rod, painted black, supports a brass-faced engraved bob. The engravings are a ring-turned design. This bob can be viewed through the clear opening in the lower glass when the doors are closed.

The glass is painted in the traditional Howard colors of black, gold, and red. The wooden weight board is painted black and appears to be original to this clock. It is interesting to note that the doors are secured closed with hooks. This may suggest that this is a later example.

This fine clock was made circa 1885. It is approximately 31 inches long. The dial bezel measures 13.25 inches wide and 4.75 inches deep.


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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