John Wilbank first shows up in the Philadelphia city directories in 1813, as a brass founder. From then until 1821 he was located at 46 north 7th street, which was also the northeast corner of Seventh and Arch. In 1821-22, he moved his foundry to 262 High street, where he remained until his death about 1842.
It's not clear from the directory how early in his career he began casting bells, but the 4000-pound bell which he cast for the State House in December 1828 shows that he must have begun such work several years earlier. From the 1839 directory on, he was identified as a bell founder rather than a brass founder, which suggests that this aspect of his occupation had become more important than it previously was. Nevertheless, he continued to have a diversity of interests - probably more than can be found in the directory listings.
The 1821 directory shows that he was also a "mineral water manufacturer". In the 1824 directory, he identified himself also as a bell hanger - one who installs sets of call bells in houses, etc. - so he probably made the small bells which he was installing. From about 1829-30 to about 1837-39, he operated a dry goods store at the same address as his brass foundry. In full-page advertisements in the 1839 and 1840 directories, he devotes about 1/3 of the space to a silk manufactory, 1/3 to bells (from large church bells down to small hand-held bells), and 1/3 to the manufacture of various kinds of scales. The silk manufactory doesn't get further mention, but the scales manufactory appears in a classified business directory which was first published in the early 1840s. (The city directories had no classified section until 1844, and then only a rather small list based on subscribers to the directory.)
Wilbank's death is indicated by the fact that the 1843 city directory lists Mrs. John Wilbank, bell founder, at the same address. (The separate business directory for that year must have been prepared earlier, because it still lists John.) The following year, she is gone, and the foundry is in the hands of Joseph Bernhard, who had not previously appeared in the directory. In the business directory, it's classified under Bell Founders, under Brass Founders, and under Brass Scales. The Brass Founders entry includes "Mineral Water Apparatus Manufacturer." So Joseph Bernhard carried on more than one aspect of John Wilbank's business interests.
The Philadelphia city directories don't show any evidence of a connection between John Wilbank and Germantown. (The High street of his day was not today's High Street in the Germantown neighborhood, but an alternate name for Market street in downtown Philadelphia.) On the other hand, those directories never gave a residence for him, so it's possible that he lived in Germantown and worked in the city. But that's a rather long commute for those days - Germantown is about 8 miles from downtown Philadelphia.
I have not investigated other sources of information beyond the Philadelphia city directories, so I'm sure there must be more information yet to be discovered about John Wilbank.
Carl Scott Zimmerman
Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - home of 35 bell foundries or bell sellers, 1821-1961.