Luther Goddard Pocket Watch

Luther Goddard apprenticed under relative Simon Willard in Grafton, Massachusetts and opened his own clock and watchmaking and watch repair business in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts in the mid 1780's.

By 1803, he partnered briefly with watchmaker James Hamilton. Luther Goddard acquired watchmaking tools from Providence watchmaker, John Cairns' estate in 1809, and perhaps also from the estate of Thomas Harland (Delaney). Sons Parley (born 1787), and Daniel (born 1796), apprenticed to their father and became important partners as they expanded the business to become the first large-scale American manufacturer of watches. Its likely that the few parts they didn't manufacture such as the dial, spring, and fusee chain were acquired from Daniel Waldo Jr., an importer of parts for the watch trade working in nearby Worcester (thanks to Michael Edidin for information on Waldo).

Luther Goddard Pocket Watch
American Watchmaking

In 1817, Luther and his son Daniel relocated from Shrewsbury to Worcester. It is assumed that the watchmaking operation in Worcester exclusively utilized imported English finished movements, but this assumption may not be correct. Given that Parley continued to manufacture in nearby Shrewsbury supports the likelihood that locally finished watches were being sold at both locations for some period of time. Importantly, there has never been a comprehensive study of surviving Goddard watches to factually state what was taking place; articles and websites that state otherwise are just parroting others who also do not know. For certain, both locations continued to use locally made watch cases as demonstrated on this watch.

Early American Watchmaking

P&D Goddard Pocket Watch

Verge and fusee movement, serial number 341, engraved “L. & D. Goddard & C in WORCESTER.” The words “in WORCESTER” is unusual and may indicate a date of manufacture close to when they relocated in 1817. The "C" for company likely refers to Parley who continued working in Shrewsbury, coming to Worcester in 1824.

Early American Watches

Eagle Case Maker's Mark

The silver consular case on this watch is very well-constructed and heavy. It has 3 eagle case maker marks on the outer cover and 2 more on the inner cover. Daniel Goddard was a listed silversmith and likely the maker of these cases. Both covers are also stamped with the number 299. Note that Goddard watches are known to have different serial numbers on the movement and case (Small, Number 48, page 360).

Additional References and recommended reading:

  • David Cooper, John Cairns (1751-1809) and Other Early American Watchmakers, NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin, No. 336, (February, 2002), pp. 26-38

  • Delaney Antique Clocks Website, , last visited January, 2019

  • Small, Percy Livingston, Luther Goddard and His Watches, NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin, Part 1, Number 48, April 1953 and Part 2, Number 52, February 1954