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  1. #1
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    Default Signicance of a Liver bird on a 1777 watch cock

    Hi all,

    I'm a newbie, I have read quite a few posts over the years, but never had any watches that were really of interest.
    I have been working on a project tracing my family roots back, my mother is Belizean, and my father is British,
    he married her when jungle training in the Military in the 60's, it was against army regs, so he lost rank, but as
    she held British Honduras passport they had to allow her passage to the uk.

    I could go on for hours, but I won't, from my mitochondrial DNA test I'm part of a tribe called the Nzema from Ghana.

    so whilst collecting/buying slave artifacts from ebay, to demonstrate in my short documentary, I was seduced by
    a Verge Fusee watch made by one Thomas Ollive, all date stamped and correct for 1777, beatifully engraved
    signature and Cranbrook, which is were Ollive worked, a small village in Kent, UK, and numbered 112

    the reason I purchasd it was that Thomas Ollives Sister ( Elizabeth ) married Thomas Paine in 1771, who was one of the founding fathers
    of the USA, which all links into the slave trade, as he was at the forefront of the abolition of slavery, he was also friend to Benjamin Franklin
    who encouraged him to go to the states, and it was Paines writing of the pamphlet Common sense that was sold and read out in drinking
    houses lodges and open air forums, and was the catalyst for common folk to stand up against the British.

    so long winded way of asking my question, the watch is dated 1777, probably one of the first that Ollive made as he finished his Aprenticeship
    in 1776, the watch was made in Cranbrook, Kent, but has a beautiful engraving of a liver bird, which is synonamous with Liverpool, and from my research
    at least 90 percent of all large ships leaving Liverpool where used in the transportation of slaves from Africa to the Americas, Cranbrook to Liverpool
    is around 275 miles, so could I assume that the purchaser was a Liverpool person, or was there a few standard designs for cock engravings, I am trying
    to make a conection with Thomas Ollive who knew Paine well, Paine was a good friend to the family, although his marriage to Elizabeth Ollive ended 4 years later.

    With Paines extensive writings and a leader for the abolition of slavery and a watch that I am guessing in 1777 would have been crazy money, the Liver Bird Liverpool connection,
    may put my watch in the hands of a ship owner, that made his money indirectly from the use of his ships, long shot, but possible.

    I will upload some images of the watch in question, it runs for 22 hours, a small section of the chain is unused, and it's a strong tick/beat, it's 1 hour fast after 22 hours,
    it's been cleaned, and the advice I was given, was to not try and get it working any better than that, and certainly not touch the regulator, having it tick for 22 hours and
    it's connection with Ollive/Paine as these to chaps must have had a beer or two together, as Ollive was witness at the wedding of Thomas Paine and Elizabeth his sister,
    and Paine lived for many years In Samuel Ollives ( Thomas's Father ) guest house in Lewis, which still stands today as the headquarter of the sussex archeological society

    pics to follow

  2. #2

    Default Re: Signicance of a Liver bird on a 1777 watch cock (By: MarK Howard)

    Fantastic to have such connection, i like local signed watches and watches with signatures from places I have lived or worked.

    However the signature is just that, it doesn't mean that somebody made a complete watch from scratch as many people were involved in making and supplying the parts for watches, they could be purchased part finished and completed by the signatory or delivered complete and finished and signed just the same.
    Nick, lots to learn, late starter.

  3. #3
    Registered User gmorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Signicance of a Liver bird on a 1777 watch cock (By: MarK Howard)

    Hi Mark, and welcome,

    Nick is quite right about the signatures on English watches, and the Liver Bird could well indicate that it was made in that area, but let's see your pictures and then we can be more definite. The area around Liverpool, especially Prescot, produced the majority of English watch movements in this period. The watch should be capable of performing much better than that if it's properly serviced and repaired, but it sounds as though there's some significant wear which wasn't addressed.

    Do you know which Assay Office hallmarked it?

    Regards,

    Graham

    "Ut tensio, sic vis" - Robert Hooke

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