Aaron Willard of Boston, Massachusetts. Tall case clock. QQ16

This is an important inlaid mahogany case tall clock made by Aaron Willard of Boston, Massachusetts. 

This is a classic Boston example. This case exhibits excellent proportions constructed by the Roxbury school of cabinetmakers. This case measures approximately 97 inches or 7 feet 11 inches tall to the top of the center finial. The painted dial measures a full 13 inches across.

This mahogany case is in excellent condition. The case stands on four nicely formed ogee bracket feet. These are applied to the bottom of the double-step molding. This molding is applied to the base. The base is laid out with a vertical grain pattern. It features a narrow mahogany cross-banded border along the outer edge. A string line inlaid bow, having cut-out corners, is centered in this location. The long tombstone waist door is also vertically grained and line inlaid. This door is fitted with an applied molding that frames the outside edge. One would open this door in order to gain access to the inside of the case where the wooden rod pendulum and the iron weights that power the clock are located. 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 fretwork design that incorporates three large brass ball and spiked finials. These finials are supported on capped plinths that are decorated with line inlays. 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 13-inch iron dial is colorfully paint decorated. The four spandrel areas are decorated with scroll designs that frame the urns. This design is raised off the surface of the dial with applied gesso which is highlighted with gilt paint. The outer chapter ring is decorated with a gilt circle that features numerous raised beads. This is a very effective detail. A lunar calendar or moon phase mechanism is located in the arch of this dial. This dial also displays the hours, minutes, seconds and calendar date in the traditional format. It is signed by the Clockmaker in script 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 of good quality. It is weight-driven and designed to run for 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.

This beautiful clock was made circa 1795. It stands approximately 7 feet 11 inches tall to the top of the center finial.

This clock is inventory number QQ-16.

About Aaron Willard of Grafton, Roxbury and Boston, Massachusetts.

Aaron Willard was born in Grafton, Massachusetts, on October 13, 1757. Little is currently known of his early life in Grafton. His parents, Benjamin Willard (1716-1775) and Sarah (Brooks) Willard (1717-1775) of Grafton, had eleven children. Aaron was one of four brothers that trained as a clockmaker. In Grafton, he first learned the skills of clock making from his older brothers Benjamin and Simon. It is recorded that Aaron marched with them in response to the Lexington Alarm on April 19, 1775, as a private under Captain Aaron Kimball’s Company of Colonel Artemus Ward’s Regiment. Aaron re-enlisted on April 26 and was soon sent by General George Washington as a spy to Nova Scotia in November. By this time, he had reached the grade of Captain. He soon returned to Grafton to train as a clockmaker. In 1780, Aaron moved from Grafton to Washington Street in Roxbury along with his brother Simon. Here the two Willards establish a reputation for themselves as fine clock manufacturers. They were both responsible for training a large number of apprentices. Many of these 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, in 1792, relocated about a quarter-mile away from Simon’s shop across the Boston line. Aaron is listed in the 1798 Boston directory as a clockmaker “on the Neck,” 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 many 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 and numerous Massachusetts shelf clock forms.

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