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  1. #1

    Default Massey I signed J Joel Preston

    Today, I received a Lancashire1824 Massey I, purchased from the David Penney – there's a set of photographs and a description on his site. Rather unusually it is of open face construction, but with a silver cover rather than a glass cover, which David believes is possibly original.

    I am yet to examine the movement, but I have been attempting to trace J Joel. The signature is clearly “J” Joel, but the only reference I can find is Isaac Joel of Church Street Preston as identified in David's description and recorded as working in 1824 by Loomes. Does anyone have any further information?

    The case maker's marks are shown on the attached photograph.'I.W' is 'possibly John Walker of Chester' according to David, but I think it may be John Widdowson. Priestley does not record 'I.W' with the raised period in a rounded cameo, but does list IW (no period) seen on an 1810 watch; he follows the arguments of Canon Ridgeway and ascribes it as being the mark of John Widdowson. He is listed as a case maker at 17, Edmund Street, Liverpool, in various trade directories (Baines 1824, Gores 1827 and Pigot 1828). Perhaps this is an example of his mark for ~1824. Has anyone seen this mark or have any reference to this case maker?

    Finally, there is an additional mark which appears to be T&Co followed by the movement serial number (7115). The 'o' is not very clear and it may be only part of a letter. I can find no reference to this mark. Given the unusual style of the case, it may be that the watch was originally a standard open case, but the owner had it modified, shortly after purchase and the mark is that of the silversmith that made the modification. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Massey I signed J Joel Preston (By: John Matthews)

    I wouldn't state it categorically but I think normal practice for a hunter case would be for it to have received hallmarks on the inside of both front and rear covers. It is hard to see form the photo of David's site but it looks like the front cover of this watch is unmarked which would lend weight to the later modification theory. It wouldn't have been difficult for a case maker or silversmith to make a dome to snap in in place of a glass. The front bezel would have already been jointed.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Massey I signed J Joel Preston (By: SKennedy)

    A good point - you are correct the front cover is the only component of the watch case that is not hallmarked. There are marks on the bow, pendant, the back cover, dome (illustrated) and also, uncommonly, the machine turned outer edge of the middle. However, if my thought that the 'T&Co' was added at the conversion, you might have thought the silversmith would have stamped the outer cover, that is unless the owner wanted to keep it unmarked.

    It would have been easier to replace the open face bezel with a silver cover, rather than convert the original case to a full hunter, no doubt, but I cannot understand the motivation. I would have thought re-housing in a hunter case would have been the preferred way to go. Whether the decision had something to do with wanting to preserve the 'howling dog' engraving on the back cover, we may never know.


  4. #4

    Default Re: Massey I signed J Joel Preston (By: John Matthews)

    If only ....

    "The original owner traveled to New York sometime around 1855. While sightseeing in Lower Manhattan he dropped his beloved silver open face watch and broke the glass. Having recently made the acquaintance of Charles Tiffany, the distraught owner made his way into the Union Square store, where Charles was only too happy to demonstrate his resourcefulness and offered to provide a silver cover to replace the broken glass. Keen to ensure that the company name should become known in London high society he had his silversmith stamp the watch with the company's mark 'T&Co'".

    Now wouldn't that be a rather special Massey I.


  5. #5

    Default Re: Massey I signed J Joel Preston (By: John Matthews)

    Lovely story, John

    But I would hope that even any American silversmith (but especially a Tiffany) would know better than to deface a set of British hallmarks!!!!!

    Incidentally, do we know if the front cover actually is solid silver?
    Martin Rosen

  6. #6

    Default Re: Massey I signed J Joel Preston (By: MartyR)

    Hi Martin - not tested by me, but it has the appearance of silver. I think David Penney must have been convinced and he may have tested it.


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