Ephraim Willard, Boston MA. A fine example of modest height standing 7 feet 4.5 inches tall. (214011)

This inlaid mahogany case tall clock was made by Ephraim Willard of Boston, Massachusetts. It is an unusual example standing under 7 feet 5 inches tall. Very few Boston / Roxbury clock are built to this diminutive scale.

This fine inlaid mahogany case features very good selections of mahogany wood and mahogany veneers. It is inlaid with thin lines that from frames and inlaid quarter fans are positioned in each of the interior corners. The case is elevated on four ogee bracket feet that are applied to the bottom of the double stepped molding. The base panel features a fine selection of mahogany that exhibits a long sweeping pattern in the grain of the wood. This is positioned in a horizontal format. This panel is decorated with inlay. A thin line of light wood forms a frame. Inlaid six pedals quarter fans are positioned in each of the four corners of the line framing. This decorative inlay pattern is repeated in the construction of the rectangular shaped waist door. The perimeter of this door is trimmed with an applied molding. The sides of this case are fitted with inset fluted quarter columns that are stopped with brass and terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet features a traditional pierced and open fretwork design and is surmounted with three brass finials. Each finial is mounted on a fluted plinth. The plinths also help support the fretwork design. The bonnet door is an arched form and is fitted with glass. This is also decorated with a light line inlay. The two smoothly turned and brass stop fluted bonnet columns are positioned on either side of the bonnet door. They are free standing and mounted into brass capitals. They provide the illusion of supporting the upper bonnet molding.

The iron dial is colorfully painted. Floral patterns decorate each of the four spandrel areas and also the lunette of this dial. This dial is signed by the maker just below the calendar aperture. The signature reads “E. Willard.” This dial displays the time in a traditional format having large Roman style numerals that mark the hours and Arabic numerals are positioned at the five minute marker locations. A subsidiary seconds dial is located below the Roman hour numeral XII and the calendar date is indicated on a separate dial mounted below the center arbor.

The eight-day time and strike movement is brass and is of fine quality. It is designed to strike each hour on the hour. It strikes the hour a cast iron bell that is mounted above the movement. This clock is weight powered and retains its original tin can weights.

This clock was made circa 1795. It is a very manageable size standing approximately 88.5 or 7 feet 4.5 inches tall to the top of the center finial.

It is inventory number 214011.

About Ephraim Willard of Medford, Roxbury and Boston, Massachusetts.

Ephraim Willard was born in Grafton, Massachusetts on March 18th, 1755. He parents, Benjamin Willard and Sarah (Brooks) Willard had twelve children. Four of the boys became clockmakers. Little is known of Ephraim’s early life in Grafton where he probably learned clock making from his older brothers Benjamin and Simon. Simon Willard (1753-1848) was to become America’s most famous clockmaker. It is recorded that Ephraim did march with his brothers in response to the Lexington Alarm on April 19,1775. His service lasted all of one week and five days. In 1777, he took up residence in Medford, Massachusetts and was listed as a clock and watchmaker. In 1784, a lawsuit identifies him a a trader living in Boston. In 1795 through 1801, he is listed as a Roxbury resident in the Roxbury Tax Records. In 1801, he purchased land and a house on Sheaf’s Lane in Boston. The deed for this transaction describes Ephraim as a “Merchant.” Financial difficulties followed over the next two years and Ephraim was then described as a Clockmaker. In 1804, he is listed in the Boston Tax Records as a clockmaker on Elliot Street. In 1805 Ephraim moved to New York City and is listed occasionally as a watchmaker until 1832. Ephraim, like his older brother Benjamin, was a bit of a wanderer. It seems his production as a Clockmaker was a fraction of what his three other brothers produced. A small number of tall clocks are know. The cases he selected to house his clocks range in form from very simple and reserved to what are considered the best the Boston area cabinetmaker had to offer.


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