Aaron Willard of Roxbury, Massachusetts. A labeled case.
This important inlaid mahogany case tall clock was made by Aaron Willard of Roxbury, Massachusetts.
This is a classic Roxbury example. This case exhibits excellent Roxbury proportions and early design elements that were practiced by the Roxbury school of cabinetmakers. This case measures approximately 93 inches or 7 feet 9 inches tall to the top of the center finial. The dial measures the standard 12 inches across.
This mahogany case is in excellent original condition and retains a wonderful mellow patina. The case stands on four nicely formed ogee bracket feet which are original to this clock. The base panel features a subtle grain pattern that is formatted horizontally. This panel is also delicately line inlaid with a satinwood string pattern that features cut out corners. The long tombstone waist door features vertical grain pattern. This pattern is consistent with that found in the base panel. The door is also fitted with an applied molding that frames the outside edge. Open this door in order to gains access to the inside of the case and one would locate the wooden rod pendulum and two iron weights. On the back of this door is the Maker's set up label. This is the version that is associated as being engraved by Paul Revere. Very few Willard clocks retain their labels today. This is a wonderful additional detail. The label is in good overall condition. It lists the place location as "Roxbury." The sides of the case are fitted with the traditionally formatted brass stop fluted quarter columns. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet features a pierced and open fret work design which is original to this example and is surmounted with three large brass finials. These finials are supported on fluted plinths. Fully turned and brass stop fluted bonnet columns support the upper bonnet molding. They are mounted in brass capitals and are free standing. The arched bonnet door is fitted with glass and opens to access the painted iron dial.
This iron dial is painted decorated and features a lunar calendar or moon phase mechanism in the arch. This dial was paint by the Boston ornamental artist John Minot. This dial is signed on the back by the artist, "IM" in the upper left corner and number "54" is in the upper right. We have owned several clocks that have exhibited nearly identical artwork. The four spandrel areas are decorated with interesting floral themes. This dial also displays the hours, minutes, seconds and calendar date in the traditional format. This dial is boldly signed by the Clockmaker in block lettering. This signature is located below the calendar date above the Roman hour numeral six. The signature simply reads, "Aaron Willard."
This movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. Please note that the photographs were taken before the movement was serviced. It is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. It is a time and strike design having a rack and snail striking system. The strike hammer is returned by a coil spring. 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.
This beautiful clock was made circa 1785. It stands approximately 7 feet 11.25 inch tall to the top of the center finial.
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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