John Sawin Boston, Massachusetts. A True Lyre Wall Timepiece. Elegant Harp Pattern.

It is know thought that the firm of Sawin & Dyer introduced the lyre clock form sometime around 1825. Two versions were made and are now called the True Lyre and the Box Lrye. Both of these forms incorporated a finely carved mahogany frame in the form of a musical harp that was located in the center section of the case. This was visually supported on a box or a base.

This example measures approximately 39 inches long from the bottom of the lower bracket finial to the top of the center final, 11.25 inches wide across the middle section and 5 inches deep. The painted iron dial measures approximately 7.75 inches in diameter. This clock was made circa 1827.

This is a fine example. The case is constructed in mahogany and the patina is excellent. The clock is surmounted with a carved wooden finial that is fitted onto a capped woden plinth. The dial bezel is cast in brass and is fitted with glass. This protects the dial and hands. The bezel is hinged and as a result, allows one access to the painted iron dial. This dial is signed by the Clockmaker “Sawin” just above the houe numeral VI. The time ring is formatted with Roman style hour numerals. The hands are steel and are wonderfully filed. These are excellent examples. The carved center frame is easily removable for access to the weight and pendulum. This frame is nicely carved and supports an egloimise tablets. It is painted from the back in excellent colors and features traditional timepiece themes that include the American shield, an American eagle and designs. Below the frame is a bracket that steps back to the wall. An acorn style finial hangs from the bottom of the bracket.

The movement is constructed in brass. This weight driven clock is designed to run eight days on a full wind. The brass plates are supported by four posts located at the four corners. Hardend steel shafts support the brass gearing. Overall, this movement is good quality. It is mounted to the backboard with screws.

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 Swain 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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