Aaron Willard of Boston, Massachusetts. A Dish Dial shelf clock with time and alarm movement.

This Massachusetts Dish Dial Shelf Clock was made by Aaron Willard of Boston, Massachusetts. It is fitted with an alarm.

This Henry Willard built case stands on four brass ball feet that are applied to the bottom of the case. They are original to this case and often found on this Massachusetts form. The base section features a pillow molding that transitions smoothly the bottom of the case to the framed panel. This panel features a quality selection of mahogany veneer. The moldings that frame this panel are considered half rounds. The case lot number which is die stamped inside the lower frame is "40." The bonnet is surmounted with a nicely shaped plinth which supports the fretwork, chimney or finial plinth and brass decorative finial. The sides of the hood are drill out in a diamond pattern. This was done in order to let the sound escape the inside of the case. More on this latter. The bonnet door is framed in a half round moldings. This framing supports a reverse painted glass tablet. The colors found here are excellent and the detail work is outstanding. It is in this location that this type of clock is signed by the Maker along with his working location. This door opens to access the iron dial which is a convex form. The hands are skillfully made and feature arrow pointers. This clock features a third hand which suggests that it is fitted with an alarm.

The time only movement is constructed in brass and designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is powered by a cast iron weight. This clock also features an alarm. The set up is unusual in that the alarm movement is a separate movement that is mounted to the seatboard aside of the time movement. When the alarm is activated. The hammer actually strikes or raps on the side of the case. It was never fitted with a bell. The sound of which should wake the soundest of sleepers. In addition, remember the sides of this case were drilled to allow the sound to escape the interior.

This clock was made circa 1820 and stands approximately 34.75 inches tall to the top of the finial. It is 13.25 inches wide and 5.75 inches deep.

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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