Willard Orrery

Description
Like many instruments of the sort made in London, this American one could be used as an orrery (Sun and planets out to Saturn) or a tellurian (Sun, Earth and Moon), with the mechanisms moved by a crank with an ivory handle. Four elegant brass legs support a mahogany horizon circle. The printed paper label covering this circle is marked “MADE-BY / Aaron Willard Jr. / BOSTON.” There is one brass Sun that can be used with either form. The planets are made of ivory. The plate of the tellurian mechanism is marked “A. WILLARD JR. BOSTON.”
Aaron Willard Jr. (1783-1864) was a productive and prosperous clockmaker in Boston who apprenticed with his father and took over the business in 1823. He probably made this instrument in collaboration with John Locke (1792-1856), a graduate of the Yale Medical School who settled in Cincinnati. Locke also established a school for young ladies, developed an electro-chronograph for the U.S. Naval Observatory, and made important contributions to American geology.
Ref: William Ball Jr., “Another American Orrery,” Antiques 4 (October 1938): 184-185.
“Willard’s Portable Orrery,” The Weekly Recorder (Jan. 17, 1821): 166, from Boston Centinel.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
orrery
date made
ca 1820
maker
Willard, Jr., Aaron
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
wood (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 25.3 cm x 37.5 cm x 35.6 cm; 9 31/32 in x 14 3/4 in x 14 1/32 in
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
ID Number
1986.0466.01
catalog number
86.466.1
accession number
1986.0466
catalog number
1986.0466.01
subject
Astronomy
Measuring & Mapping
Globes
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Globes
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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