Joshua Wilder. Clockmaker. Hingham, Massachusetts. A fine cross-banded mahogany cased tall clock. OO46

Joshua Wilder (1786-1860) is an important Hingham clockmaker. He was a member of the renown and influential group of Quaker clockmakers from the Hingham and Hanover area of Massachusetts. This clock case is crafted in the manner of the cases popularized in Boston, but bears the successful regional interpretations typical of Southeastern Massachusetts. The fine quality of the case and dial distinguish this example as one of the most important known clocks from this region.

This very attractive tall case clock is constructed from the highest quality of mahogany selections available and retains a historic surface with a warm, mellow color. This case is fitted with a delicately formed scrolling open fretwork. The fret is set between three rectangular and reeded chimneys, each mounted with brass suppressed ball and spire finials. This fretwork rests on an arched molding above a glazed tombstone-form and line inlaid dial door. The door is flanked by a pair of tapered colonnettes that are mounted in brass capitals and bases. The locking dial door opens to a wonderfully painted dial of Boston manufacture. Boston dials are known for their high quality and regional style and were employed by clock makers throughout the United States.

This dial features a richly painted selection of fruit in the arch. Brightly painted urn shaped decorations are featured in the four spandrels regions. The time ring is formatted with boldly painted Roman numerals that demark each hour and an outer ring of Arabic numerals are used to demark the five minute markers. This ring of numerals is framed by and inner and outer band of gilt piping. The dial is fitted with a subsidiary seconds bit with steel pointer. The original and wonderfully scrolled tear-drop pattern steel hands are mounted to the center arbor. This dial is boldly signed in flowing calligraphy below the center arbor with the maker's name and locale "J. Wilder / Hingham".

The brass movement, which has recently been serviced, is in good running order. It is designed to run for an eight-day duration. It will strike each hour on a cast iron bell that is mounted above the works. The movement is fitted with an original steel shaft pendulum with a brass capped lead bob and a pair of red painted tin can weights. The movement rests on a wooden "saddle board" and is original to the case.

The hood transitions into the waist section with a flared throat molding. The case has reeded quarter columns that terminate in brass quarter capitals and bases. These are positioned on either side of the rectangular shaped pendulum door. The locking door has a molded edge around a vigorously grained mahogany panel that is interrupted with a cross-banded border. The understated quarter columns are set in contrast to the dynamically figured mahogany selections in the pendulum door and corresponding plinths beneath each column. The waist section transitions to the base with a flared molding. The rectangular base panel has a similar cross-banded border around a panel of vibrantly figured mahogany. The bottom of the panel has simple molding above a beautifully shaped skirt and dramatically flared French feet.

Dimensions: Height including center finial: 96 ½ inches tall, Width 19 ½ inches at the upper hood molding and 10 inches deep.

About Joshua Wilder of Hingham, Massachusetts

Joshua Wilder was born on December 2nd, 1786 in Hingham, Massachusetts. He was trained in the art of clockmaking by John Bailey Jr. of Hanover, MA. Wilder completed this apprenticeship some time around 1807. It appears he stayed in Hanover for a brief period of time before moving back to Hingham to established his home and business located on Main Street in the South Parish. Here, he was the first clockmaker to settle in this prosperous town and found a ready market for tall case clocks, dwarf clocks, wall timepieces, the Massachusetts shelf form and mirror clocks. Wider becomes one of America’s most prolific Makers of the dwarf clock form.

Wilder also becomes very active in the local religious Society of Friends and became known as the “Old Quaker Joshua Wilder.” He was also involved with the Temperance Society and Peace Society of Hingham. Wilder’s business eventually evolves into a retailer of common goods. Wilder is said to have trained several Clockmakers that includes his son Ezra Wilder, Reuben Tower, Allen Kelley and Phillip Bennet. About 1840, it is said that his son Eza joined him in business. Joshua dies on October 4, 1860 in the town of Scituate.

A fair number of clocks made by this maker have been found. Many of which are the dwarf form but also include in much smaller numbers tall case clocks, timepieces, shelf clocks and mirror clocks. Currently, the Hingham Library is displaying a tall case clock made by him.

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