2 Rack Levers

John Pavlik

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An interesting pair of M.I. Tobias rack levers.. serial numbers close and cases hallmarked for the
same year 1815…. Earlier movement number 2238 is higher jeweled vs number 2933…One with 60 second track, the other with a 15 second track.. Both have pair cases with the inner case marked T&Co.. Later one has I*E for I believe John Ellison…Early case maker mark hard to make out … Pendants & Bows have the same maker marks … Dust caps are numbered and marked T&Co.. … Both weigh 175 grams..
Any comments or opinions welcomed

4FDEC384-6A78-4F79-8FC0-5F0934173EBB.jpeg E1E26EDE-2AFC-4FAF-BC04-7CE11E0EEE44.jpeg 25DC4630-9CDF-4ED4-BB3F-849061AEF6EA.jpeg EF334CB0-D559-4B82-AABC-E20378A6320E.jpeg DAD7D34C-5707-48EA-A835-BE5AEB4744E7.jpeg EF276C97-634F-47E0-91F3-D122048C53DC.jpeg
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hello John,
I would say the T&co is for Tobias and company, though did they make the movements. Both seem to be hallmarked for 1800 or 1821/22 it´s had to say, those leopard's heads should be crowned if 1800, uncrowned for 1821/22 or even 1823. EJ is for Edward Jones according to Priestley, and the TE could be Timothy Ellison before he went into partnership with Henry Fishwick. Plenty of room for more research.

Regards,

Alln.
 

John Pavlik

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Hmmm… I see both have the letter T Chester as a date mark … not sure how that relates to the years you indicate ?? The I * E I would think is for john Ellison …
 

John Matthews

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John

It took me some time to realise that T&Co was a 'finisher's' and/or 'retailer's' mark see here. In that example the mark is added to a case after it had been hallmarked.

It is my belief that the same designation applies when the mark is found on caps. There is an example of M I Tobias & Co (#4450) rack in Your Time p. 46. I have come to infer that cap makers were 'employed' both early in the manufacturing process, often before the train was fitted, and later. I have found that in the former case, the caps are frequently unmarked or carry the same mark as the movement maker. I suspect that examples with marks that can be assigned to listed cap makers may have been fitted after the movement was received from the movement maker. I think in the case of your caps, the movements were received already capped and were marked T&Co by Tobias as part of the finishing process.

I agree with the Chester date letter [T] for 1815/16 and I*E for John Ellison with his mark recorded by Priestley on a case hallmarked 1815/16.

I believe that the earlier case carries the mark [EJ] and I suspect this is an unregistered mark of Edward Jones who was working in Highfield Street, Liverpool in 1816. It is about the time he moved from Prussia Street and it is possible that he may have used a different punch at that time. I have checked the 1816 trade directory for listed case makers and he is the only candidate I can find for a range of interpretations of the initials in the mark.

John
 
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John Pavlik

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Thanks John, I agree on the EJ mark… What struck me is that it appears Tobias production was close to 700 movements in a year … if the numbers were sequential. Quite a significant
number for 1815… as most Tobias’s in this time frame were for the English market, at least in English hallmarked cases …. Any thoughts on that ? Most false case marks, didn’t appear until the mid to late 1820’s … Was it possible something was afoot about only exporting movements vs the complete watch ?
 

Allan C. Purcell

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John, sorry about my mistakes above, for some unknown reason I had it in my head that the letter was "D" It could be that it was me answering Oliver with the same question last week. (Two Liverpool watches with the D) Of course, the remarks by John Matthews are correct.

Allan
 

John Matthews

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John

With 1815/16 hallmarks your examples are the lowest and highest serial number I have recorded and one might infer that this accounts to ~700 watches produced in that year (2933-2238); but does it?

I think there are many questions for which we (I) need the answer, before it is safe to draw any conclusions regarding production of this 'maker' and any other.

Let us for the moment assume that the serial numbers were allocated sequentially in chronological order, we need to know
  • when were the numbers allocated?
  • were they allocated by the frame or movement maker at the commencement of manufacture?
    • if so how many survived to the end of the process, i.e. what was the failure rate?
  • were all the available numbers allocated?
  • does the interpretation of the individual digits carry significance?
    • perhaps the first two identify an order for a batch of movements and the number in the batch was <99
  • did movement 'design' influence the way that serial numbers were allocated?
etc.

From my observations I would say that it was not unusual for serial numbers to be allocated early in the manufacturing process; even if there were no complications to a sequential allocation of all available numbers, I doubt if all movements were finished. What would be a reasonable estimate of wastage 5% 10% 15% or higher - I just don't know. I would not be surprised if for the Liverpool 'manufacturers' (viz. middlemen / entrepreneurs / finishers / signatures) it was in the range of 10% to 20% of the serial numbers allocated. Then there is the question how many of the completed movements were actually cased and sold?

If pressed I would guess for a range of 700 serial numbers, the actual production of finished watches was probably less that 500.

It is possible for English watches to identify relationships between discrete serial number sequences and case hallmark dates, it is very rare to maintain a relationship across the complete production of a 'manufacturer'. It is very difficult, possibly impossible, to draw conclusions regarding the production figures for completed watches that were actually sold.

My knowledge of American history and what influenced the 'watch' trade between England and America in the early part of the C19th is somewhat lacking. I have never found a lucid account that identified all the factors that were determinate. However, I share your perception that prior to ~1815 many English watches that found their way to America were in genuine English cases and that there was subsequently a period when uncased movements were exported together with exports of movements in unmarked cases or possibly with faux hallmarks. Those uncased movements found their way into cases of various designs and of variable quality. There is also evidence of continental 'fakes' were being smuggled into America at this time (e.g. 140 Geneva made watches with fictitious English names were seized in 1810 bound for Charleston). How that influenced the English trade is not clear to me.

John
 

Allan C. Purcell

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(e.g. 140 Geneva made watches with fictitious English names were seized in 1810 bound for Charleston). How that influenced the English trade is not clear to me.
Hi John,
In 1812, we were again at war with America till 1815. In that period of time English ships were not welcome, in fact, one of the causes, I quote
"It was the pressing (Press gangs) of alleged British seamen from American ships which was one of the causes of the war of 1812-1815".
Colin Pengelly "HMS Bellerophon"


The Swiss would have taken advantage of the situation.
 

John Pavlik

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John M,
Thanks for your thoughtful insight to production quantities.. My thought was just to determine an estimate as to how many movements Tobias may have produced during a year.. I had never had 2 watches by the same manufacture in cases with the same hallmark year.. My thought was to get a production date approximation to date loose movements to a known movement in a hallmarked case.. Also might help date the watches in the marginally marked American cases..
John
 

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