John Sawin of Boston, Massachusetts. Wall timepiece or banjo clock.

This case is constructed in mahogany. The half rounded frames are fitted with highly figured mahogany veneered panels. The side arms and bezel are cast in brass. The bezel is fitted with glass and is hinged on the right. It opens to access painted iron dial and the finely hand filed steel hour and minute hands. The time ring is marked out in Roman numerals. This dial is signed in script by the Maker, “Sawin” in script format. Behind it, is a brass weight driven movement. This is designed to run eight days on a full wind. The teeth in the gear train are deeply cut. The pendulum features a brass faced bob. A turned wooden mahogany finial surmounts the case. This clock measures approximately 33 inches long and was made circa 1830.

For a more detailed discussion regarding wall timepieces, please read, Paul Foley’s book, Willard’s Patent Timepieces.

About John Sawin of Boston, Massachusetts.

John Sawin was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts on September 13th, 1799. His parents were John Pierce Sawin and Abigail Partridge (1781-Unknown.) It is thought that he was trained as a clockmaker by his uncle Aaron Willard. John was also related to Lemuel Curtis who was a cousin. Throughout his career, John had a number of working relationships. It appears the he worked with Simon Willard in 1819-1820. He is then soon listed as a journeyman working with Aaron Willard Jr. By 1822, John had formed a partnership with George Wild Dyar as Sawin & Dyar. This shop was located at 33 Market Street. This partnership lasted until 1827. John continued to make clocks on his own and continued to employe many apprentices and journeyman. The Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association held it first fair in 1837. John Sawin entered two gallery clocks in the competition. They were equipped with improved regulators to avoid the necessity of removing the dial. They were proclaimed to be the best clocks exhibited at the fair and he was awarded a Diploma by this new organization. John Died on March 28, 1863 at the age of 62. He is buried in the Christ Church Cemetery on Salem Street in Boston, MA.

The number of signed Sawin clocks that survive is today’s marketplace suggests that he was very successful. He advertised that in he made Tower clocks and wall regulators. Wall timepieces, gallery clocks and Massachusetts Shelf clocks have been found. John Sawin is probably best known for creating the lyre form wall timepiece.


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