Calvin Bailey of Hanover, Mass. An inlaid mahogany case tall clock featuring a rocking ship automated dial. 222004.

The Quaker clockmaker Calvin Bailey working in Hanover, Massachusetts, produced this beautiful inlaid mahogany-cased tall clock. Several members of the Bailey family were skilled and innovative clockmakers and are credited with training the majority of clockmakers working in the Southeastern region of Massachusetts. This fine example is unusual in that we know the artisans involved with its creation. We know the identity of the clockmaker, dial painter, and case maker. All three individual artisans combined their specific talents to produce this fine example under the guidance of Calvin Bailey, the clockmaker.

The case features high-quality construction and superb wood selections. It exhibits a number of construction details and techniques that are now known to have been practiced in the Weymouth, Massachusetts cabinet shop of Abiel White. Several other tall clocks are known to us that are very similar in form. Calvin Bailey had an established relationship with Abiel White [1766-1844], who was trained in Dorchester under the direction of Stephen Badlam. This formal cased example is an interpretation of the “Roxbury” style made popular by the Willard family of clockmakers in Roxbury and Boston. This case is constructed of high-quality figured mahogany. The shellac base finish enhances the mahogany’s rich, warm color. This cabinet stands on four flared French feet. These are applied to the bottom of the base and are visually separated from the base section by a banding of tiger maple inlay. This interesting wood features a natural variation of shading. The front-facing panel of the base features a well-figured selection of mahogany. The grain pattern is positioned so that it appears to be rising from below as it radiates upward. This panel is also framed in a narrow band of tiger maple and a cross-banded mahogany wood border. The large rectangular-shaped door is trimmed with a delicate applied molding. The mahogany veneer selected for this Hollywood location features a grain pattern that exhibits long sweeping lines and variations in color. This panel is also framed in the same format displayed below in the base. The door provides access to the interior of the case. Here one will find the two original drive weights and the original wooden pendulum rod that supports a brass-faced bob and rating nut. Long brass stop-fluted quarter columns flank the sides of the case. These terminate in brass quarter capitals at both ends. The lower capitals are fitted on veneered blocks. The hood or bonnet features a delicate scroll pattern of fretwork. Three finial plinths frame this open fretwork. Each plinth is capped at the top and supports a decorative brass finial. These finials are a ball form having a tree on top. Brass stop-fluted mahogany bonnet columns are positioned on both sides of the door. These are also mounted in brass capitals. Rectangular-shaped windows are incorporated into the hood sides. The bonnet door is an arched form, and the opening is fitted with glass.

This very colorful painted iron dial was painted by the Boston ornamental artists Nolen & Curtis. It is a 12-inch dial and features a rocking ship display in the arch. The rocking ship is an automated feature. The fully rigged painted ship is depicted flying the American flag and is sailing across turbulent waters. This ship is cut from tin and actually moves or gently rocks from side to side with the motion of the pendulum. The painted scene behind the sailing ship is quite interesting. A large farmhouse is positioned on the left out on a rocky point. Two people are standing out on the lawn, watching the ship sail towards them. To the right of the ship is the open ocean. This nautical-themed scene is painted on a convex piece of metal. The four spandrel locations are decorated with floral patterns. The colors blue, red, orange, and gold attract one attention. These are highlighted with raised gesso patterns that are finished in gilt paint. The time ring is formatted with all Arabis numerals at the five-minute positions. A dotted minute circle divides these from the larger Roman-style hours. A subsidiary seconds dial and month calendar display are located in the traditional locations. The hands are filed from steel and have been blued. The minute and hour hands match and feature a heart in their design. This dial is not signed on the front. It is signed twice on the back. It reads, “Calvin Bailey.”

This fine movement is constructed in brass and is of good quality. Four turned pillars support the two brass plates. The front plate is solid brass. The backplate has been skeletonized. This means the non-essential areas of the brass plates are cut away, resulting in the conservation of brass. This procedure was common practice for the Bailey family of clockmakers. It is not unusual to see a movement made by them that both plates were skeletonized. Hardened steel shafts support the polished steel pinions and the brass gearing. The escapement is a recoil design. The winding drums are grooved to accept the weight cord in an orderly fashion. The movement is powered by weights and is designed to run for eight days. It is a two-train or a time and strike design having a rack and snail striking system. As a result, it will strike a bell each hour on the hour. The cast iron bell is positioned above the movement. The movement rests on a wooden “saddle board” and is original to the case.

This is a very attractive example. It measures approximately 7 feet 3 inches or 87 inches tall to the top of the center finial, 19.25 inches wide and 9.25 inches deep. This clock is inventory number 222004.

About Calvin Bailey of Hanover, Massachusetts, and Bath, Maine. Clockmaker. 1782-1835.

Calvin Bailey was born in Hanover, MA, the son of John (A shipbuilder) and Ruth Randall Bailey on May 6, 1751. He died in Bath, Maine, in 1835. He was into Southeastern Massachusetts’s most prominent clockmaking family. He was a Quaker and one of six members of the Bailey family that were involved in clockmaking. Calvin lived in a time when business was often conducted in the barter system. He was often taking in goods in trade for his clocks or services. Calvin and his brother Lebbeus 91763-1827)learned the art of clockmaking from their older brother John Jr (b. 1751-d.1823). We are fortunate in that Calvin’s work ledger exists. It records that Calvin made clocks year-round but was also very involved in farming. It also records that he did business with four local cabinetmakers. They include Ells Damon, Theodore Cushing, Abiel White, and Abner Hersey. A number of Calvin’s clockworks are housed in cases made by Cushing and White. Calvin moved from Hanover to Bath, Maine, in 1828.


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