1826 C & J HOLMES, Cheadle half hunter pair cased verge fusee #9831

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by John Matthews, Nov 10, 2019.

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  1. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    #1 John Matthews, Nov 10, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
    This pair cased half hunter, is one of the best preserved example that I have encountered. It is in fine condition throughout.

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    Coincidentally, I was in the process of acquiring the watch at the same time as Piers had posted an almost identical example here. Indeed his example was cased, in the previous year, by the same case maker, George Richards. I also believe that it is possible that the movements may have shared a common early history, although they were possibly completed by different finishers. Both are likely to have been finished in Coventry, rather than Lancashire, but there is also the possibility that the final work was done in London (see below). All the cased examples of this style that I have recorded, where reliable dates are available, are from the second quarter of the C19th. All were retailed in the English Midlands. With very little evidence, I have formed the opinion they may have been favoured by upper middle class industrialists, who were attracted by their substantial 'protected' appearance, being entirely suitable for when they engaged in their 'country pursuits' in the Shires. :)

    The pair cases are in the style of the earlier part of the C19th; the pendant still being flattened rather than circular which became more typical as the century progressed. At this time most of the verges were produced in Coventry. The majority were not of the highest quality, they were not jewelled and often lacked maintaining power, as does this example. In Coventry, at this time, I believe they were produced in fairly large numbers compared with the smaller numbers of Massey levers and single rollers. My impression is that between 1820 and 1840 verges remained the Coventry 'bread and butter' output.

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    While pair cased half hunter verges are not as frequently found as other variants, I would not describe them as uncommon. As far as I can determine, what is uncommon are examples that have been cased in London – the majority of the Coventry output at this time was cased in Coventry or Birmingham. Making this example, and that posted by Piers, a cut above the average. In my opinion it is the cases that set them apart, not the movements which lack the features associated with quality.

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    The mark [GR] incuse, was registered in London by George Richards on 4 September,1823, when he was based at 17 Bridgewater Square (close to the Barbican). He registered his first recorded mark in July of 1823 and later marks in 1834 and 1837. He is recorded in Grimwade as a case maker.

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    As can be seen from the photographs, the pendant also carries a hallmark for the same year as the case and fortunately has a discernable maker's mark [JP] incuse. This is the mark of a known London pendant maker, James Pascall who entered this mark on 21 May 1821, when he was working from 18 Wilderness Row, Goswell Street a short distance from Richards. (Part of Clerkenwell Road, from Goswell Road and St John's Street, was adopted from Wilderness Row, a late C17th street, the name of which was abolished in 1878.) Pascall entered a second mark in 1836, so Richards and Pascall appear to have been contemporaries through their respective working lives and further examples of their collaboration no doubt exist.

    Richards & Pascall 01.jpg Richards & Pascall 02.jpg

    The dial and the hands of the watch are in fine condition. I particularly like the hands which I assess, like the case, to be of a quality which far exceeds the movement. In my assessment they are a perfect fit and work so well with the half hunter style of the box. I am hoping they are original – Graham what do you think? If they are, the survival of their delicate form is somewhat remarkable, but given the overall condition, and the care which the watch has been given across the years, it seems possible. If they are original, this would lead me to believe that the final finishing may have been done in London.

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    According to McKenna, the Holmes family were a well known clock making firm based in Cheadle from at least the middle of the C18th. The firm was established by Andrew Holmes who was born in 1740. It is believed that he had a son, Thomas, who operated out of High Street premises from 1784 until 1822, when it appears Charles and Joseph, his sons, became involved in the business. A clock in Cheadle Parish Church, carries the signature Charles & John Holmes, made in 1829. McKenna offers no relationship between 'Joseph' and 'John'. In Pigots trade directory of 1828 Charles and John Holmes are recorded as clock and watch makers, I am therefore unsure whether 'Joseph' is a typographical error. However, McKenna states that by 1851 Charles and Joseph were both 'gentleman' so further research is needed - unless any of our clock collectors can help. For this particular watch, it is fairly safe to assume that C & J Holmes were the retailers.

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    The watch came with a Cheadle watch paper that carrying a record of a service in 1879. It is possible that this and the associated name of the owner, relates to the watch. I will post information when I have done further research.

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  3. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    They're certainly a very good fit with the dial, they match each other in style and they're designed to cater for the reduced view when the half hunter lid is shut. I believe they're appropriate for the age of the piece and do show a better than usual level of delicacy and finish.


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  4. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    #4 John Matthews, Nov 23, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019
    This post is dominated by the social history of an area close to where I once lived.

    First a correction ..

    My apology, I ran two sentences together, what McKenna actually wrote was...

    In 1828-9 Charles & John Holmes. Clock in Cheadle Parish Church made by Holmes in 1829.

    I have been in contact with the Parish Church and they have not been able to identify the clock that McKenna describes. From the response received, it is possibly a clock in the vestry, but a signature was not found. Further research has not produced any further information on the family and I believe C & J Holmes is, in all probability, Charles and Joseph, I have no evidence of a John Holmes working with Charles.

    Joseph & Charles Holmes 1851 census.JPG

    For those interested in the local history of the area the Historical Cheadle Facebook pages have a good selection of photographs of the area, including a photograph of 41 High Street - the earliest occupants of the building being Charles Holmes from 1834.

    41 High Street.JPG

    The watch paper accompanying the watch is that of George Webb, who McKenna describes as a clock and watch maker of High Street Cheadle from 1868. Loomes has George Alexander Webb with dates from 1868 until 1876, but an entry in Kelly's directory allows us to extend the active period to 1880 and even further from the entries in Kelly's 1896, 1904 & 1912 directories.

    Whether any watch paper is original to a watch, is virtually impossible to tell. This is particularly so if it is a single watch paper – I understand that David Penney is always very cautious making an association unless there a number of papers which show a history of service that is compatible with the age and condition of the watch. So the provenance that can be inferred from this single watch paper, is possible, but far from proven.

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    The reverse side of the watch paper carries the date March 1st 1879 and 2/6. I believe it is safe to infer that this is the service date and its cost – £0.125 or $0.10 in today's money. I did a very quick internet search and at that time the annual average wage of an engineer or parson was ~£100 or £2 per week rising to £200+ per year for 'professional men'.

    Mr Heuth/Meuth/Hiuth/Miuth I cannot be certain – could it be Heath? Any other suggests would be welcomed ...

    We can be certain he was from Whiston.

    In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Whiston like this:

    WHISTON, a township, with two hamlets, in Kingsley parish, Stafford; 4 miles NE of Cheadle. It has a post-office under Stafford. Real property, £2,536; of which £141 are in ironworks. Pop., 708. Houses, 137. The manor has belonged since 1380 to the Giffards.​

    The ironworks refer to the Whiston copper works built ~1770 for smelting copper ore brought from the Duke of Devonshire’s Ecton Copper Mine near Warslow. It was more cost effective to bring the copper ore to Whiston, where coal for smelting was available from the Foxt and Kingsley coalfields than to transport coal to the Ecton Copper Mine, as it took about four tons of coal to smelt one ton of copper ore. Some of the copper is said to have been used to cover the bottoms of British Navy ships. Originally packhorses were used, but eventually the Cauldron Low tramroads became the primary method of transportation. The tramroad to the works was built ~1804. By 1890 the works were no longer in use.

    Okay here's a first on the forum. Did any of you know that in the UK we have National Slag Collection? How :cool: is that!

    So here it is ... photograph of copper slag from the old works at Whiston

    Whiston Copper Slag.jpg

    I have tried to identify the name on the watch paper. Of the initial possibilities 'Heuth' is a surname recorded in the census records, but not in Whiston area at the time. If it is 'Heath' then William Heath is one possibility in the 1881 census he was 29 and recorded as a wagon inspector on the mine railway. The only other Heath recorded, John Heath, a general labourer, seems less likely.

    William heath 1881 census.JPG John Heath 1881 census.JPG

    At the present time that is about as far as I can take the story.


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