Aaron Willard. Massachusetts Dish Dial Shelf Clock made in Boston, Massachusetts.

This Massachusetts Dish Dial Shelf Clock was made by Aaron Willard in Boston, Massachusetts.

This is the traditional case form. It is elevated up off the shelf by four brass ball feet. These are applied or secured to the bottom of the case and are original to this example. The base section features a pillow molding of mahogany that supports a half round mahogany frame. This frame is fitted with a period mirror that exhibits wonderful texture. The case lot number, which is die stamped inside the lower frame, on the backboard of the case and on the inside divider is "140." The bonnet or hood of the clock can be removed in the same manner in which the tall case clock version is removed. It slides forward. This version is surmounted with a nicely shaped fret pattern that centers a finial plinth and decorative brass finial. The bonnet door is framed in 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 can be found below the dial inside the red colored oval. This oval is surrounded with floral decorations. The spandrel areas are decorated with musical harps. This door opens to access the iron dial which is a convex form. The hands are skillfully made and feature arrow pointers.

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 and is a timepiece.

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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