Nichols Goddard of Rutland, Vermont. No. 125
This case form is typical of what one would expect having a painted dial that is signed by "Nichols Goddard / Rutland / No. 125." The style is very similar in form to the high style New York and New Jersey cases of the same period. This case is constructed in cherry and features decorative inlay patterns and mahogany highlights. This fine case stands on nicely shaped applied French feet. The base panel features a mahogany panel that is highlighted with line inlays. A line inlaid box frames the base panel. Two large ovals decorate this section. This is a pattern seen on over clocks that have been signed by this clockmaker. The waist is section is long. The The center is fitted with a rectangular door. An applied molding gives the door some depth. In addition, a line inlay frames the interior outside edge. In the center section is an inlaid oval that has been stretched. This oval is constructed with mahogany and framed with the lighter string inlay. A panel above the door is formatted in a similar fashion. Boldly reeded quarter columns flank the sides of the waist. They terminate before the moldings in brass quarter capitals. A checkered rope inlay pattern trims the rest of this outside edge. This is a nice subtle detail that is difficult to pick up in the photographs. The bonnet or hood features a swan's neck pediment. The horn a delicately formed and terminate in inlaid pinwheels. In the front facade, one will find a fifth inlaid oval. Three brass ball and spiked finials surmount this case. The two located on the outside of the case are mounted on reeded plinths. The inlaid rope pattern featured in the waist section is reestablished here. Fluted bonnet columns flank the arched bonnet door. This door is also line inlaid. The painted dial appears to be an American product. It is mounted directly to the movement without the use of a false plate. The spandrel areas are decorated with fanciful gesso patterns that help highlight the gilt florals painted over red medallions. This dial is boldly signed by the clockmaker. The time track is formatted in the traditional Roman numerals marking the hours and Arabic numerals are used for each of the five minute markers. A calendar and seconds bit are in the traditional locations. A moon phase mechanism or lunar calendar is located in the arch. The movement is brass. It is weight powered and designed to run eight days on a full wind. It will also strike each hour on a cast iron bell which is mounted above the movement. It is good quality. This clock stands 93 inches (7 feet 9 inches) tall. It was made circa 1806.
About Nichols Goddard of Shrewsbury, MA and Rutland, Vermont.
Nichols Goddard was born the son of Nathan and Martha (Nichols) Goddard in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts on October 4, 1773. It is thought that he learned clockmaking from his second cousin Luther Goddard who was also in Shrewsbury. Luther was trained by his cousin, our country’s most famous clockmaker, Simon Willard of Grafton in 1778. Luther is often credited with making the first watch in America. Nichols is listed as working in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1794 through 1797. A diary entry from 1795 states that as a journeyman, Nichols made movements for his father Luther Goddard, Gardner Parker of Westborough, Isaac Gere of Northampton, MA and for a man identified as “Ingalls” who is also in Northhampton. In June of 1797, Goddard moves north to Rutland, Vermont. At this time, the period of 1770 through about 1825, the state of Vermont enjoyed unprecedented population growth. It is in Rutland that Goddard formed a partnership with a silversmith who was originally from Norwich, Connecticut and more recently Pittsfield, Massachusetts. His name was Benjamin Lord. In September of 1798, Nichols returned to Northampton to marry Charity White. She was the daughter of Job White and Charity Chapin. They returned to Rutland and had seven children together. After their partnership ended, Nichols continued to make clocks under his own name until he died in 1823.
Nicholas involves himself in public affairs. In 1800 he is appointed Town Clerk of Rutland. He also serves as Town Treasurer from 1805 – 1807. He received the commission of Captain in the militia. He was also very active in the Masonic lodge. In 1802 he was elected Grand Junior Deacon of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Vermont and in 1804 through 1810 he served as Grand Senior Warden.
Nichols died in Rutland on September 23, 1823.
A dozen or so known clocks signed by Nicholas Goddard or signed Lord and Goddard are known. An example that is signed Lord & Goddard No. 124 is located in the Sheldon Museum . A musical example which is signed Nicholas Goddard is in the collection of The Bennington Museum. The Rutland Historical Society was given a Nichols Goddard Number 150 in 1996. They also own number 106 which has a repainted dial.
The tall case clocks that have been found signed by Lord & Goddard have the following numbers recorded…. 72, 75, 87, 95, 97, 98, 106, 111 and 113. Tall clocks signed by Nichols only include 124, 125, 144 and 150.
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