Upon The Origins Of Baddeleys | Spitalfields Life

Originally posted on Spitalfields Life

A mahogany four-train musical and quarter chiming longcase clock playing seven tunes, made by John Baddeley of Albrighton in Shropshire c.1760 (courtesy of Bonhams, London)

Last Sunday, I told the story of John James , the journeyman die sinker who rose to become Lord Mayor of London in 1922, and this week I explore the origins of this extraordinary family endeavour which spans five centuries and innumerable generations, and whose specialist printing business Baddeley Brothers still flourishes in Hackney.

The celebrated Engraver and Satirist, William Hogarth, was first apprenticed as a Silver Engraver, while his contemporary, William Caslon, the father of British Letter Founding, was originally apprenticed to a Gunsmith – thus it comes as no surprise to discover a certain Phineas Baddeley apprenticed as a Clockmaker. You only have to look at the elegant italic lettering upon the engraved face of this fine eighteenth century longcase clock by John Baddeley to recognise the seamless nature of related trades in this era and the possibility of advancement for talented artisans who could redirect their skills to the most advantageous reward.

A skill in the creation of intricate and precise metalwork serves a Clockmaker, but may also be lent to the design of instruments. While draughtsmanship and the ability to carve lettering into metal plates permits an Engraver to create attractive designs for clients, he is also able to produce…

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