- 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.
- Currently not on view
- Object Name
- date made
- ca 1820
- Willard, Jr., Aaron
- place made
- United States: Massachusetts, Boston
- Physical Description
- brass (overall material)
- wood (overall material)
- 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
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
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