Aaron Willard of Boston, Massachusetts. An inlaid mahogany case tall clock.

This mahogany line inlaid tall case clock was made in Boston, Massachusetts by Aaron Willard circa 1800.

This is a very good example. This mahogany case exhibits excellent proportions and traditional mahogany wood selections. The presentation or the finish is old and has mellowed into an old world surface. It is clean. This fine example stands on four applied ogee bracket feet that are applied to the bottom of a double step molding. The mahogany used in the construction of the base panel is formatted in a vertical position. The grain features long sweeping lines. The line inlay pattern consists of three separate thin lines. A dark string is surrounded by two lightwood lines on either side. This same pattern is repeated in the waist and hood doors. The waist section is long and narrow and fitted with a large rectangular shaped waist door. The perimeter is framed with an applied molding. Brass stopped fluted quarter columns flank the sides of the case. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet features an open fretwork design that is surmounted with three brass ball and spiked finials. Fully turned and brass stop fluted bonnet columns visually support the upper bonnet molding. They are mounted in brass capitals and are free standing. The sides of the hood are fitted with tombstone shaped side lights and they are fitted with glass. The arched bonnet door is also fitted with glass and opens to access the dial.

This iron dial measures 12 inches across and was paint decorated by Boston ornamental artist. The four spandrel areas are decorated with colorful floral themes. A red breasted bird is prominently depicted in the arch of this dial. This dial also displays the hours, minutes and seconds. Interestingly, it does not have a calendar display. This dial is boldly signed by the Clockmaker in script lettering. The signature simply reads, “Aaron Willard / BOSTON.”

This fine movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. Four turned pillars support the two brass plates. Hardened steel shafts support the polished steel pinions and brass gearing. The winding drums are grooved. The escapement is designed as a recoil format. The movement is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is a two train or 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 strike hammer is returned to the ready position via a coil spring. This clock retains it’s original tin cans weights and pendulum.

This fine example is nicely proportioned and stands approximately 7 feet 10 inches or 94 inches tall to the top of the center finial. Measured at the feet, this clock is 19.5 inches wide and 10 inches deep. It was made circa 1800. This clock is inventory number 214024.

About Aaron Willard of Grafton, Roxbury and Boston, Massachusetts.

Aaron Willard was born in Grafton, Massachusetts on October 13th, 1757. Little is known of his early life in Grafton. It is here that he probably learned the skill of clock making from his older brothers Benjamin and Simon. It is recorded that he did march with them in response to the Lexington Alarm on April 19,1775. In 1780, Aaron moved from Grafton to Roxbury along with his brother Simon. Here the two Willard brothers establish a reputation for themselves as fine clock manufactures. They were both responsible for training a large number of apprentices, many of which 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 relocated about a quarter mile away from Simon’s shop across the Boston line about 1792. Aaron is listed in the 1798 Boston directory as a clock maker ‘on the Neck’ and 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 a large number of 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 as well as numerous Massachusetts shelf clock forms.


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