John Bailey II of Hanover, Massachusetts. An important tall case clock.

This early example is one of very few Bailey made clocks found with a brass dial. The case is constructed in mahogany and features a more modern finish that is warm and pleasing. The case form is known to this clockmaker. A similar clock is pictured in Harbor & Home on pages 242-243 and is currently in the collection at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA.

The example offered here is supported on massive applied bracket base. The base section is somewhat compressed and the waist molding above it overhangs the three panels. This waist molding is an unusual design. A boldly formed half rounded moldings transitions to the cove shape that attaches to the waist. The waist section is long and narrow. The center is fitted with a tomb-stone shaped waist door. This door it trimmed with a simple molded edge. It also provides access to the interior of the case. The front corners of the waist are decorated with a rounded shaped or beaded molding. At the top, it terminates in a lamb’s tongue molding. This is a nice subtle detail. A robust upper waist molding transitions the waist to the hood or bonnet. The hood features construction that resembles the top of a chest on chest or highboy of the period. Four turned and shaped columns visually support the upper section. The back two are split in half and applied to the side of the hood. Moldings are applied to the upper section in order to make the transition. The front two columns are fully turned and are free standing. The centers sections of these are decorated with fluting. Above them is a molding that is also fluted and transitions to the upper molding. This molding is well formed. On the sides it is stepped. In the front it forms the scrolled pediment that terminates in carved pinwheels. These center a decorative plinth. The two carved wooden finials feature a rope twist carving above the ball bases. These are supported on finial plinths that are designed with large caps. The hood door is an arched form. Both edges are trimmed with a molded edge. The door, fitted with glass opens to access the dial.

This dial is composed of a thin brass sheet that is skillfully engraved and then treated with a silver wash. In the arch of the dial is a “Strike / Silent” selector. This is a device that allows one to turn the striking train of the clock on or off. This might be useful if you were to put this clock outside your bedroom. This useful device to some is set up differently than most. By turning the hand to the silent position, a rod pushes the lift lever down and out of the way of the hour pin. This prevents the clock from striking. Themes of swags and florals are used as decorative designs that highlight the beauty of this dial. The Maker’s name and working location, “John Bailey / Hanover” are engraved in the center field. The large chapter or time ring displays the hours in Roman figures. The five minute markers are displayed in an Arabic format. The steel hands are wonderfully made. This dial also features the subsidiary seconds dial and the calendar date. The date of the month is displayed in the traditional location. It is interesting to note that this calendar is engaged with the movement once in a 24 hour period. The standard set up is to have it engage once every 12 hours. It is also supported at one end with a bridge and the pinion is fitted into a bearing. This is a positive system and illustrates Bailey’s ability to be somewhat creative in manufacturing this movement.

Behind the dial, is a brass weight driven movement. It is designed to run eight days on a full wind. It will also strike each hour on a cast iron bell. The plates are joined with four turned posts and are supported by a seat or a saddle board. These plates are interesting because they retain they Maker’s set up notes in terms of the scribe lines left in the front surface. One will also notice the higher than normal copper content in the front plate as is evident by the copper coloring. The pendulum features a wooden rod and a brass faced lead bob.

This fine clock was made circa 1780. The overall height is 97 inches tall to the top of the wooden finials. Measured at the lower hood molding, this case is 19.5 inches wide and 11.75 inches deep.

About John Bailey II of Hanover, Massachusetts.

John Bailey II of Hanover, Massachusetts. A quaker clockmaker. An exceptional mechanic and an inventor.

John Bailey II was born in Hanover, Massachusetts the son of John (a shipbuilder) and Ruth Randall Bailey on May 6, 1751. He died there 72 years later on January 23, 1823. It is thought that he learned clockmaking at a very young age and may have been self taught. John is responsible for training numerous apprentices. Many of which include his younger brothers Calvin and Lebbeus, his son John III, Joseph Gooding, Ezra Kelley and Hingham’s Joshua Wilder. Many of these trained apprentices moved to other south eastern Massachusetts towns and become well known to their local communities. John was the most prolific maker of the six Baileys that were involved in the clock business. He was Quaker preacher and an ingenious mechanic as well as an instrument maker. In addition to clocks, a surveyor’s compass is known and is now in the Hanover Historical Society’s collection. He was also an inventor and received a patent for a steam operated roasting jack. This device was designed to turn meat over a fire in order to cook it more evenly.

John’s clocks are loosely broken down into two categories. The first is a home developed style. Often these examples have sheet brass dials that are engraved and treated with a silver wash. Several examples have been found with movements that are constructed in wood. Others are constructed in brass and the plates are fully skeletonized. Some of these incorporate wooden winding drums. It is interesting to note that he made both types of strike trains. We have seen examples signed by him that feature a count wheel set up and also the more popular rack and snail. Very few clockmakers used both set ups. The cases are typically constructed in indigenous woods that include maple and cherry. These examples have pleasing country proportions and lack the sophistication of the Roxbury school. Sometime around 1790, the Roxbury / Boston influence must have played a big role in John’s production. The movements on these examples are more apt to incorporate fully plated movements. In addition, the cases resemble those being turned out by the Willard School. These feature mahogany cases and are often decorated with inlays. The second generation of output is much more formal in appearance.

Over the years, we have owned a fair number of clocks made by him. Some of which included numerous tall case clocks, dwarf clocks and the Massachusetts shelf clock form.

For more information about this clock click  here .