Luther Goddard of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. A tall case clock.

This very important cherry case tall clock was made by Luther Goddard while working in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

This clock case is constructed in cherry. The form was popular and used by a number of local clockmaker including Benjamin Willard and Abel Stowell. This example is well proportioned and retains a wonderful mellow finish. The case color is rich and the old surface provides some depth. It is visually pleasing. The case stands up off the floor on and applied bracket base that incorporates four feet and subtle returns. The base panel is formatted with the grain of the wood laid out in a horizontal orientation. The waist section is fitted with a nicely shaped waist door. This door shape is found frequently in clock cases constructed from this Central Massachusetts region. The door is trimmed with a simple molded edge and opens to provide access to the interior of the case. The front corners of the waist are decorated with a subtle beaded edge detail. The hood or bonnet is surmounted with a a very interesting open fret-work pattern. This pattern features a row of open windows just above the molded arch hood molding. Above this is a scroll pattern. Three fluted finial plinths support the frets and the three brass ball and spiked finials. The bonnet columns are smoothly turned and terminate in turned wooden capitals. These capitals retain most of their original gilding. The bonnet door is arched in form and fitted with glass. This door opens to access the painted dial.

This iron dial was paint decorated by a local ornamental artist. His identity is currently unknown. We speculate that he may have worked in the Worcester area due to the fact that the style of decoration is repeated frequently on other local clocks by Maker’s such as Benjamin Willard of Grafton, Joseph Loring of Sterling, Abel Stowell of Worcester and others. The technique has a New England charm about it. It is not as polished as the painted dials that were available from overseas or even from Boston. The four spandrel areas are decorated with native florals. These are framed with a gilt border. This theme is also repeated in the arch where they center a lovely pastoral scene. Here two people are depicted standing on a road. Behind them is a field and a couple of structures. This dial is signed by the clockmaker just above the center arbor in the location one is accustom to finding a seconds hand. The clockmaker’s name is signed in script, “Luther Goddard.” The working location is written in and old English format. It reads “Shrewsbury / FECIT.” The time ring is formatted in a traditional manner. Large Roman style numerals are used to display the hours. Each of the five minute markers are presented in an Arabic format. Below the center arbor is a calendar display. Nicely formed steel hands indicate the time. You may notice that this clock has a third hand. This is a sweep second hand. It moves with the motion of the pendulum. This is a very unusual feature for a New England clockmaker to incorporate into the design of his movement and dial. It is more commonly used by Clockmakers working in Pennsylvania.

The movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. 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. 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. It is interesting to note that this cock features a center sweep second hand. Very few New England clocks are fitted with this feature.

This charming country clock was made circa 1795. It stands approximately 84 inches or 7 feet tall to the top of the center finial.

About Luther Goddard of Grafton, Shrewsbury and Worcester, Massachusetts.

Luther Goddard Clockmaker, Watchmaker, Silversmith, Jeweler and Baptist Minister. working in the towns of Grafton, Shrewsbury and Worcester, Massachusetts.

Luther Goddard was born February 28, 1762 in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. He was the cousin of Simon Willard and is thought to have trained or more appropriately apprenticed under him as early as 1778 at the age of 16. This indenture is thought to have lasted five years through 1783. He is then recorded as working in Shrewsbury in 1784 through 1817 as a clockmaker, watchmaker and as a silversmith. In 1784, Luther married Elizabeth Dakin on June 19. They had at least two children that worked in the clock, watch and silver trades. Parley Goddard, born in 1787, began training under his father in 1800. His brother Daniel, born in 1796, started training when he was 13. It is thought that Luther also trained his second cousin Nichols Goddard, born 1773 and died in 1823. Nicholas becomes one of Vermont’s most prolific clockmakers working most of his life in the town of Rutland. In 1803, Luther formed what must have been a brief partnership with James Hamilton as Goddard & Hamilton. It is recorded that in 1807, Luther attended the estate sale of the Norwich, Connecticut clockmaker Thomas Harland. Here, he is said to have purchased a set of clockmakers tools. In 1809, he relocated his shop to Shrewsbury Hill. His shop, said to be about 18 feet square was one story and had a hip roof. It had a lean to attached to the back for the casting process. It is in this location that he began to manufacturer pocket watches and is credited making the first American watch and also as being the first American to make a significant attempt to make watches in quantity. His life time output of watches is estimated to be approximately 600. His silvered cased examples are thought to have originally sold for approximately $60. This would have been about the the same cost as a tall case clock. Today, his watches are prized by collectors. This first watch venture included his son Parley under the firm name of Luther Goddard & Son. Their timing was pretty good as imports were blocked by Jefferson and the “Jefferson Embargo” during the War of 1812. By 1815 the market was again flooded with imports and the watch business slowed. It is thought they produced approximately 600 or so watches by 1817. Some of the other firm names that were related to this venture are “Luther Goddard,” “L. Goddard & Son,” “L&P Goddard,” “L. Goddard & Co.,” “D&P Goddard & Co.,” etc… In 1817, Luther moves to Worcester, Massachusetts with his son Daniel and continues to repair watches and clocks, silversmithing as well as preaching as a Baptist minister. This shop was located on Main Street across from Daniel Waldo’s store. Luther dies in Worcester on May 24, 1842.

For more information about this clock click  here .