Aaron Willard Jr., of Boston, Massachusetts. This cross-banded mahogany case retains the Makers' original set up label. The signed dial depicting Rambler's Return in the lunette. ZZ-5.

This important cross-banded mahogany case tall clock was made by Aaron Willard Jr., of Boston, Massachusetts. It retains the Maker’s original set up label pasted inside the waist door.

Aaron Willard Jr. was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts on June 29, 1783. He had the good fortune of being born into America’s leading clockmaking family. His father Aaron and uncle Simon had recently moved from the rural community of Grafton and began a productive career of manufacturing high quality clocks in this new ideal location. Based on the traditions of the day, it is thought that Aaron Jr. probably learned the skill of clockmaking from his family. We have owned a large number of wall timepieces or more commonly called banjo clocks that were made by this talented maker. Based on the numbers seen in the marketplace, it is logical to assume he was one of the most prolific makers of this form. We have also owned a fair number of tall case clocks, Massachusetts shelf clocks and gallery clocks. Aaron Jr. retired from clockmaking sometime around 1850 and moved to Newton, Massachusetts. He died on May 2nd, 1864.

This is an impressive example measuring approximately 8 feet 6.5 inches or 106.5 inches tall to the top of the center finial, 20 inches wide and 10 inches deep. The dial is measures 13 inches across. The case form is a very attractive exhibiting excellent narrow proportions and is constructed in the finest mahogany veneers.

This deep rich mahogany case stands on four nicely formed flared French feet. The feet and fanciful designed drop apron are visually separated from the base by a delicate applied molding. A one inch banding of mahogany veneer forms a cross-banded border that frames the base panel. The veneer selected for the panel features a vibrant crotch grain and is positioned in a vertical format. The rectangular waist door is constructed in a similar manner. The veneers selected for these locations are considered to be the best due to their character and were most certainly the most expensive. The outer edge of this door is fitted with an applied molding that frames it. One would open this door in order to gain access to the inside of the case. Here, the original wooden pendulum rod, brass faced bob, rating nut and the two tin can drive weights are accessible. On the back of this door is the Maker’s set up label. Of the label variations Aaron Jr used, this would be considered a later example. His early labels were labels that he shared with his father Aaron Sr. This latter version provides Directions for putting up the Clock. It also has an advertisement for his business on “Washington-Street, Boston, (near Roxbury) Massachusetts.” Very few Willard clocks retain their original set up labels and as a result is a wonderful and important additional detail. It is also interesting to note that this clock was shipped with the movement, dial and pendulum already mounted in the case.. The label states that one should “Unfasten the Pendulum ; hang on the weights …” The The front corners of the waist or case are fitted reeded quarter columns. These terminate in brass quarter capitals. Please note that wood selected for the frame is also well figured. The bonnet features a traditional New England variant of a pierced and open fret work design. The pattern is a lacy design and is very attractive. This is supported by three reeded and capped plinths. Each supports a brass ball and spike finial. Fully turned and reeded bonnet columns visually support the upper bonnet molding. They are mounted in brass capitals and are free standing. The sides of the bonnet are fitted with large rectangular shaped side lights. The arched bonnet door is fitted with glass and opens to access the colorfully painted iron dial.

This iron dial was paint decorated by the Boston dial manufactures and ornamental artists Nolen & Curtis. The four spandrel areas are decorated with grapes, apples and possibly peaches. This was a very popular theme for this particular dial painting firm. The spandrel decorations are framed in a gilt beaded border. The use of applied gesso in the formation of the beaded work elevates them off the surface of the dial. In the arch of this dial is a lovely scene. A well dress young woman carrying a small basket under her arm is standing on a path in the woods. She appears to be considering her options. She is depicted in a forest. Ferns and various species of tress surround her. The time ring is framed with a narrow gilt circle. Arabic numeral are used to define the five minute positions. A beaded or dotted minute ring separates them from the large Roman style our numerals. An additional gilt ring frames the inner border of this display. Inside the time ring is a small subsidiary seconds dial. This clock does not have a calendar. In its place is the Clockmaker’s signature and working location. It reads, “Aaron Willard Jr / BOSTON.” The steel hands are well formed and display the time.

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. It 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.

This beautiful clock was made circa 1815. The case stands an impressive 8 feet 6.5 inch tall to the top of the center finial.

ZZ-5

About Aaron Willard Junior of Boston, Massachusetts.

Aaron Willard Jr. was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts on June 29, 1783. He had the good fortune of being born into America’s leading clockmaking family. His father Aaron and uncle Simon had recently moved from the rural community of Grafton and began a productive career of manufacturing high quality clocks in this new ideal location. Based on the traditions of the day, it is thought that Aaron Jr. probably learned the skill of clockmaking from his family. We have owned a large number of wall timepieces or more commonly called banjo clocks that were made by this talented maker. Based on the numbers seen in the marketplace, it is logical to assume he was one of the most prolific makers of this form. We have also owned a fair number of tall case clocks, Massachusetts shelf clocks and gallery clocks. Aaron Jr. retired from clockmaking sometime around 1850 and moved to Newton, Massachusetts. He died on May 2nd, 1864.

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