John Bailey II of Hanover, MA. A pine cased Massachusetts Shelf Clock. 221099

This very unusual country example is one of very few Bailey made clocks found cased in pine. It is currently one of three examples known to us that features this soft wood. One of the two other examples is nearly identical in form but now features a darker brown finish. I speculate that all three pine cased clocks may have originally been paint decorated. The example discussed here now features a very light finish and the wood is a pleasing blonde color.

This example is supported on a simple cutout bracket base that forms four feet. The base section is long. The front panel is fitted with an access door in the center. The door is hinged and locks closed with a key. Inside the case, at this location is the pendulum and weight. A traditional waist molding is fitted to the top of the base. The lower section of the hood is fitted with a molding that sits on top of the the narrow section of the cove shaping. The hood is constructed with a molded top. Above this is a rectangular shaped finial plinth that is capped at the top. The plinth supports a single urn shaped brass final. A pierced and open fret work design is attached to the plinth. The rectangular shaped hood door frames the kidney shaped dial. It is fitted with glass and opens to access the dial.

This painted iron dial is a Boston made product. A gold band frames the open minute ring and the Roman style hour numerals. The Maker's name, "John Bailey" is signed in the center field below the time display. It is framed with a decorative scrolling design composed of applied gesso that is raised off the surface of the dial and this is highlighted with gilding. The two steel hands are wonderfully made and nicely detailed.

Behind the dial, is a brass weight driven movement. It is designed to run eight-days on a full wind. The brass rectangular shaped plates are joined with four turned posts and are supported by a seat or a saddle board. The pendulum features a steel rod and a brass faced lead bob.

This fine clock was made circa 1810. The overall height is 38.5 inches tall to the top of the wooden finials. Measured at the lower hood molding, this case is 18.5 inches wide and 7.25 inches deep.


About 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 Colonel 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 southeastern Massachusetts towns and became well known to their local communities. John was the most prolific maker of the six Baileys involved in the clock business. In addition, he was a Quaker preacher, an ingenious mechanic, and an instrument maker. Other examples of his work include a surveyor’s compass that 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 the meat over a fire to cook it more evenly.

John’s clocks are loosely broken down into two categories. The first is a home-developed style. These examples often have sheet brass dials engraved and treated with a silver wash. Several examples are known to us with movements that are constructed in wood. Others are constructed in brass, and the plates are fully skeletonized. Some of these later clocks incorporate wooden winding drums. It is interesting to note that he made both types of strike trains. We have seen examples that he signed that feature a count wheel set up and the more popular rack and snail. Very few clockmakers used both setups. 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 significant 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 to the North. These feature mahogany cases that are often decorated with inlays. This 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.


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