Willard Tall Case Clock

The Willard family of four brothers began learning clock making from their father after he set up a small shop on his farm in Grafton, Massachusetts in1764.  The most talented and well known of the brothers is Simon who invented the banjo clock. He is likely to have built the movement for our clock.  Unlike many movements of the period that required winding every thirty hours, this movement is an eight-day version.  Early movements by Simon were wooden—he built his first at the age of thirteen. This one, dating to 1800-1805, is brass.  His younger brother Ephraim built the case (and signed the face of the clock.) 

The case is of mahogany, with intricate inlays of birch and eastern white pine.  The clock features elaborate fretwork across the top with three brass ball finials.  All of these added details would have increased the initial price of the clock: this is not the entry-level model! The face says “Warranted for Mr. Daniel Cleaves,” who was the original owner.  When Cleaves died in 1818, an inventory of his household placed the value of this clock at just about the same amount as a yoke of oxen he owned, making it a very valuable possession even then. The clock was donated to the museum in 1950 in a bequest by Almira Locke McArthur.