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.

A Rare Federal Mahogany and Inlaid Tall Case Clock By John Bailey II, Hanover, Massachusetts, Circa 1804. The clock case attributed to Abiel White.

This attractive Federal tall case clock is an early example produced by the Quaker clockmaker John Bailey [1751-1823]. Bailey was a… read more

John Bailey II of Hanover, Massachusetts. A maple case tall clock. 211067.

This country maple case tall clock was made by John Bailey II of Hanover of Massachusetts. John Bailey II was born… read more

John Bailey II of Hanover, Massachusetts. An important tall case clock. The case possibly made by Elisha Cushing Jr. of Hingham. 219052.

This early example is one of very few Bailey made clocks found with a brass dial. The case is constructed in… read more