The Banjo Clock

February 8th Celebrates The Banjo Clock

Today on Days to Remember we celebrate how on February 8th 1802 Simon Willard patented the banjo clock.

Have you ever seen a banjo clock before?

The banjo clock was invented by Simon Willard who was the fifth Willard generation in America. The original Willard family had arrived in 1634 from Kent (England), and they were among the founders of Concord, Massachusetts.

Simon Willard’s parents were Benjamin Willard and Sarah Brooks, who were Grafton natives. Like all Willard brothers, Simon was born on the family farm, in Grafton, on April 3, 1753.

The farm, now operated as the Willard House and Clock Museum, had been built in 1718, by the Willard’s’ third American generation.

When Simon Willard was born, the house had just one room. The elder brother Benjamin, who was 10 years older than Simon, learned horology and opened a workshop adjacent to the house in 1766.

What’s does the word, ‘horology’ mean?

Horology is the study of time, in case you never heard that word before. Clocks, watches, clockwork, sundials, hourglasses, clepsydras, timers, time recorders, marine chronometers, and atomic clocks are all examples of instruments used to measure time.

Like some other contemporary horologists, the Willard’s divided their lives between farm chores and the clock business. The horology became profitable, and Benjamin got a workshop at Lexington, Massachusetts, in 1767.

Now that you know a little about Simon Willard’s background, he invented the Patent Timepiece later calling it “the banjo clock,” which was the first American commerical wall clock, which worked by having a pendulum suspended in front of the weight in the case, and the first American wall clock to have the weight attached to a pulley.

Its small size meant a much lower price of 30 dollars, although this was still a large amount of money. Nonetheless, while American consumerism was arising, Simon’s Patent Timepiece revolutionized the clock industry, becoming the most popular clock in the United States, whereas Europe lacked some counterpart of it.

Today’s YouTube presentation brought to you by user name (expert village) gives you a little explanation how the banjo clock looked like and how it all came about. As we celebrate how the patent on the banjo clock all started on February 8th 1802.

Among their first correspondence, in 1801 Thomas Jefferson alerted Simon Willard that his banjo timepiece hadn’t yet been patented yet.

Subsequently, on November 25, 1801, Willard made his application to the US Patent Office. The patent was both granted and issued on February 8, 1802. It was signed by President Jefferson, Secretary of State James Madison, and Attorney General Levi Lincoln.

Only four thousand of the banjo clocks were sold in the United States after being patented, and this banjo clock is now a rare collector’s item that were made by Simon Willard.

In 1802 Simon Willard made a clock that resembled a banjo. Because of its shape, it has always been known as the banjo clock. There aren’t too many of those around that are the real McCoy. There were mercenaries then as there are now, and many of these ”authentic” banjo clocks with the name Simon Willard on them aren’t actually genuine at all. The authenticity would have to be determined by a professional.

If you’re not collector of clocks, The Willard House and Clock Museum, located in North Grafton, Massachusetts is open to the public and was founded by Dr. Roger W. Robinson and his wife Imogene, collectors of Willard clocks, after they were able to acquire the Willard homestead.

Besides hosting the world’s most comprehensive collection of Willard timepieces there are many Willard family memorabilia on display. The banjo clock that gave Simon Willard worldwide fame is on the display at the museum as we celebrate the first clock ever being patented in the United States.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell


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