Aaron Willard tall case clock retaining a set up label printed by the American Patriot Paul Revere. The cabinetmaker was Henry Willard, Aaron's son.

This mahogany cross-banded tall case clock was made in Boston, Massachusetts by Aaron Willard. This case retains its original set up label that is thought to have been printed by the American Patriot, Paul Revere. This label lists Willard’s working location as “Boston.”

This latter example features a case that that was constructed by Aaron Willard’s son Henry Willard. The mahogany veneers selected for the construction of this fine example exhibit excellent grain patterns and are situated in such a manner that the wood accentuates the form. The appropriate shellac based finish is clear. The result is that the fancy grain patterns of the of the wood selected are on full display.

This fine cross-banded example stands on four flared French feet. The retain their original height and elevate the case up off the floor by almost three inches. They also form a scroll work or drop apron that hangs from the bottom of the base. A thin applied molding visually separates the feet from the base. The mahogany used in the construction of this base panel is vertically positioned and visually lifts the case. This crotch pattern radiates with long sweeping lines. The panel is framed with a cross-banded border along its perimeter. A dark line inlay defines the interior of this frame. This design element is repeated in the formatting of the long rectangularly shaped waist door. This door is trimmed with an applied molding along the perimeter. The door opens to access the interior of the case. On the back of this door, one will find the Clockmaker’s set up label. It is this is the version that is associated as being printed by Paul Revere. As a result, he would have been responsible for engraving the plate that the label is printed from. Very few Willard clocks retain their labels today. This is a wonderful additional detail. This label lists the place location as “Boston” which helps date this clock. Fully reeded quarter columns flank the sides of this case. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. The bonnet features a very fancy and lacy open fretwork design. This is supported with three reeded plinths. Each plinth is capped at the top and fitted with a brass finial. Fully turned and reeded bonnet columns or colonnettes visually support the upper bonnet arch molding. They are mounted in brass capitals and are free standing. A large diamond pattern of drilled holes is positioned in each of the sides of the hood. These are backed in silk. Their purpose is to allow the sound of the hour strike to more easily escape the interior of the case. This decorative and useful detail is often associated with Henry Willard’s cabinet shop. The arched bonnet door is veneered with figured mahognay wood and is also fitted with glass. It opens to access the dial.

This iron dial measures 12 inches across and was paint decorated by Spencer Nolen. Nolen was a well known Boston ornamental artist and Aaron Willard’s son-in-law. Each of the four spandrel areas are decorated with colorful seashells that are depicted on top of green seaweed. A lunar calendar or moon phase mechanism is located in the arch of this dial. This dial also displays the hours, minutes and seconds in their traditional locations. Please note the wonderfully shaped steel hands. This clock does not have a calendar feature. In place of this is a piece of glass that is painted with the Maker’s name. This is painted from the back on the glass. The signature simply reads, “Aaron Willard.” At least three other clocks are known signed in this manner. It is interesting to note that all of these examples feature automation in their dials.

This fine movement is constructed in brass and is good quality. Four turned pillars support the two brass plates. Hardened steel shafts support the polished steel pinions and brass gearing. The winding drums are grooved. The escapement is designed as a recoil format. The movement is weight driven and designed to run eight days on a full wind. This clock retains its’ original red painted tin can weights. The movement is a two train or 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. his clock also retains its original wooden rod pendulum.

This fine example is nicely proportioned and stands approximately 7 feet 9 inches or 93 inches tall to the top of the center finial. Measured at the feet, this clock case is 20.5 inches wide and 10.25 inches deep. It was made circa 1815. This clock is inventory number UU-2.

Condition: Retaining its original feet and fretwork, this elegant tall case has no significant condition issues. The dial has has had some restoration of losses which include the areas around the dial feet. The movement has been fully serviced and is in excellent working order.

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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