A rare and important Grafton wall clock, by Aaron Willard, Grafton, Massachusetts, Circa 1778-80.
This mahogany clock case is in an ingenious form representing a bracket clock resting upon a shelf-type base section. This clock is one of the rarest time-keeping forms to survive from Eighteenth century America. The design, of sufficient height to include a pendulum, allows for a weight driven movement, which was considerably less expensive than the imported spring driven mechanisms required for a table top bracket clock. Commonly referred to as the “Grafton Wall Clock”, but also called “Grafton Timepieces” or “Willard Experimentals”, this form has long been associated with the Willards. These wall clocks were primarily made during their years in Grafton, prior to their removal to Roxbury in the early 1780’s. The vast majority of surviving examples were made by Simon Willard (1753-1848), but a rare few, like this example, are signed by his brother Aaron Willard (1757-1844). Aaron was one of America’s most highly prolific clockmakers with a career spanning over sixty-five years. He served his apprenticeship at his home in Grafton, Massachusetts under his brothers Benjamin and Simon as well as John Morris. A patriot during the revolution, Aaron later moved to Roxbury with his brother Simon in 1780 and then on to Boston in 1792. The enterprising clockmaker produced a great many fine tall case clocks in addition to many Massachusetts shelf clocks and patent timepieces or banjo clocks in his Boston workshops.
The crest is fitted with a pierced Rococo type fretwork having an out-swept base and central ovoid plinth. The peak of the fret and two outer corners of the crest are mounted with delicate brass finials. The finials have a raised spire above a suppressed ball or disk. The crest forms the top of a hinged and glazed dial door. The base of the door has an applied splat that emulates the feet of a bracket clock.
The dial door opens to an circular engraved silvered brass dial and bell. The dial is housed in a raised and stepped brass bezel with a rope and line-cut decorated frame. The dial is elaborately signed with the maker’s name and locale below the winding arbor “AARON WILLARD / GRAFTON”. The strap movement with solid gears is fitted with a “passing strike”, which strikes an exposed, silvered bell once each hour with a comma-form hammer. The movement is constructed in a manner, which is typical of these clocks, retaining its original direct suspension system, without the presence of a suspension spring.
The weight cover forms the lower box of the case and has a flared molding above a vibrant mahogany panel and coffered base molding. The movements on all Grafton wall clocks vary slightly from each other and are considered experimental.
Dimensions: Overall height with finial 27 1/2”; Width 8 ¾”
Call (781) 828-1650 or E-mail us for questions or pricing on this item. Please reference inventory number 11045.