Aaron Willard of Roxbury, Massachusetts. Tall case clock with original set up label. 21066

This important labeled mahogany case tall clock was made by Aaron Willard of Roxbury, Massachusetts.  

This is a classic Roxbury example.  This case exhibits excellent proportions constructed by the Roxbury school of cabinetmakers.  This case, retaining a first period surface, measures approximately 7 feet 9.5 inches or 93.5 inches tall to the top of the center finial, 20.5 inches wide and 10.5 inches deep.  The dial measures the standard 12 inches across.

This mahogany case is in excellent original condition. The case stands on four nicely formed ogee bracket feet which are original to this clock.  The feet are applied the bottom of the double step molding located at the bottom of the clock.  The base panel features good horizontal graining in long gentle lines.  The long tombstone waist door is vertical grained. This pattern is consistent with pattern exhibited in the base panel. The door is fitted with an applied molding that frames the outer edge.  One would open this door in order to gains access to the inside of the case. Here, the original wooden pendulum rod, brass faced bob, rating nut and the two tin can weights are accessible.  On the back of this door is the Maker's set up label. This is the version that is associated as being engraved by the American Patriot, Paul Revere. (There is current speculation refutes this claim. For a reference to this discussion please read Richard W. Philbrick's article, Simon Willard's Astronomical Shelf Timekeeper in Herschel B. Burt's Eighteenth Century, Thirty-Hour Willard Clocks 1770-1790.) Very few Willard clocks retain their original set up labels. This version is unusual in that it is printed in vermillion. This is a wonderful and important additional detail. Very few examples are found with this desirable label. The sides of the case are fitted with the traditionally formatted brass stop fluted quarter columns.  Both terminate in brass quarter capitals.  The bonnet features a pierced and open fret work design which is original to this example. It is supported by three fluted plinths that are surmounted by three brass finials.  The finials are period. Fully turned and brass stop fluted bonnet columns visually support the upper bonnet molding.  They are mounted in brass capitals and are free standing.  Nicely turned quarter columns are set into the back of the bonnet. The sides are fitted with tombstone shaped side lights. The arched bonnet door is fitted with glass and opens to access the painted iron dial.  

This iron dial was paint decorated by John Minot a well known Boston ornamental artist. It is signed in script on the back, "J. Minott. 131." John Minot is listed in Paul Foley's book, Willard's Patent Time Pieces as working in 1793 through 1826. The four spandrel areas are decorated with interesting floral themes that are nicely colored.  A lunar calendar or moon phase mechanism is located in the arch of this dial.  This dial also displays the hours, minutes, seconds and calendar date in the traditional format. This dial is boldly signed by the Clockmaker in block lettering.  This signature is located below the calendar date and above the Roman hour numeral six. The signature simply reads, "Aaron Willard. Roxbury."   

This movement is constructed in brass and is good quality.  It is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind.   It is 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 hammer is returned to the ready position via a coil spring.

This beautiful clock was made circa 1790.  It stands approximately 7 feet 9.5 inch tall to the top of the center finial.

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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