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.

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

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