A "noble" question

graybear

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Hi all.
I have noticed that normally on the back of the cases of UK made Victorian PWs there is the garter emblem, I mean a simplified version of the Most Noble Order of The Garter emblem.

I think that this had a precise meaning (loyalty to the sovereign ?) but I wonder which.

Thanks for any information to this a bit outdated question (in the pictures the back of the case of a G.E Steele hallmarked in 1862, and the Garter, capital G)

https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=69&pictureid=847https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=69&pictureid=846
 

MartyR

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What an interesting question :)

I have 22 Victorian English/Scottish pocket watches. Of those, 12 have engraving on the back, of which 5 have that shield shape that yours has.

Not one of them has the garter symbol.

Incidentally, that shield shape is also popular in pre-Victorian English watches, and continental ones. I have 6 others in those categories.
 

graybear

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Thanks, Marty.

My situation is different: I have some Walthams imported by Alfred Bedford's WW Co UK of London, Holborne Circus, an Hepting, 1866, a few Bensons 1870-1890, Grave's Express Lever 1904, Laithwaite 1866,Billodes Swiss hallmarks late 1800,Hebdomas 1918,Godat 1880 all with the garter let's say that in my experience when it is silver and has been sold in UK the ratio is 6 to 10 or 7 to 10. The hebomas is peculair because evidently the case maker didn't know the meaning of the decoration, and draw "something like", but recognizable, and it is 1918 !
https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=69&pictureid=849
https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=69&pictureid=848
 

MartyR

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Maybe it's a silver thing ? All my watches except two are gold :)

Now you've raised the issue, it's fascinating to discover how many engravers have used that same shield shape. Every watch I have which has an armorial on the back has almost the same shield, with only tiny variations !!!!

ETA: By the most amazing coincidence, I bought a watch yesterday with the Garter emblem !!! It's a gold watch by Joseph Eglese dated 1856.
 
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graybear

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Sure, Marty, ALL silver pieces (I do not buy gold cased ones, I like silver very much, and I don't like to pay the surcharge they put on gold cases). BTW, no silveroid or base cases with the garter, as far as I can recollect, just silver and, after your infos, gold.

There MUST be a rationale, but up to now I can't grasp it . One thing, it is not in link with being a member of the Worshipful Guild of Watchmakers, neither A.B nor A.L.D were, I deem, members, and both hallmarked cases with the garter. As Flaubert said, "God is in details" ...
 

graybear

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Absolutely, Ethan, but what puzzles me is why did they put the Garter emblem. It clearly became a form of routine (see a Swiss 1918 PW ...), that's clear, but why did it start ?
 

graybear

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Well, Gentlemen, I've got the answer : such a decoration of the back of the SILVER case implies that the owner is a Scotsman; if the case is gold the owner is a Scottish lady. The decoration is NOT the garter, but is the "Strap and Buckle", and must NEVER have gold hedgings and buckle and must NOT be blue owing to the similarity with the Garter. This explains, moreover why there are PWs of the same origin (case maker) and date with and without the strap and bucle sign.
 

MartyR

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Well, Gentlemen, I've got the answer : such a decoration of the back of the SILVER case implies that the owner is a Scotsman; if the case is gold the owner is a Scottish lady.
Hey, Graybear, where on earth did you find that out? :eek:
 

graybear

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Scottish Heraldry , the Lord Lyon King of Arms, of course
-> posts merged by system <-
Oh, Marty, I see now that you are in London ... if you are not a Scotsman be careful when you wear a silver PW, but if you are you can lawfully have the coat of arm of your clan on the shield, but have also the words "Member of the Clan" below it. Funny rules, isn't it?
 

LloydB

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That's quite an interesting finding about watch case
ornamentation; the very same strap and buckle is
associated with the majority of Scottish clan cap badges
(worn on the bonnet).

Logically (occasionally a productive direction:) ) It would seem
that a higher proportion of watches manufactured or retailed
in Scotland would have the 'strap and buckle' case, compared
with those made and retailed in England, Wales and Ireland.

There must be dozens of collectors with such items who could
provide a quick confirmation.

Unfortunately, I have only a few uncased movements from
Scotland, so no further data here.
 

MartyR

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Hmmmm ....

As I said earlier, I bought on Tuesday a gold watch by Joseph Eglese (a London make) dated 1856. The watch is 44mm (1 3/4 inches) and weighs 78g (2 3/4 ounces) and finally if you look at the dial below it's clearly a man's watch.

But it has the dreaded garter and buckle, and Graybear's pal Lord Lyon says that means it's a lady's watch !

Just to make it worse, there is an inscription inside "Ernest Booth, Sydmonton, from your Aunt Tom" ..... I mean, AUNT TOM !!!!!! Maybe she was the Scottish "lady" who originally owned the watch, and later gave it to her nephew :???:?
 

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Jerry Freedman

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I just looked at my five English silver cased watches. Three do not have the garter design. Of the three, two are pair cased watches and one is a late 19th century watch. The other two are mid 19th century watches. I wonder how much the dates of manufacture dictates the use of the garter design. None of my mid 19th century gold cased watches use the garter design.
 

graybear

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As Lloyd & Lord Lyon say, the strap-and-buckle (I think we can agree that the thing is actually strap-and-buckle, isn,t ?https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=69&pictureid=850 here is Clan Fraser) was worn on the bonnet by Scottish gentlemen and ladies, BUT Lord Lyon adds that ladies could wear it at left, on the lapel or dress AND were allowed to wear GOLD color besides the white or silver of Scotsmen. From there, and from some small gold watches I've seen, I inferred that gold watches with s-a-b were tipical of ladies.
About "Aunt Tom" may be she was a big lady (44 mm is not that large, and a 78 grams is not that heavy, a standard gentlemen's is over 2 inches and about 150 grams) , so why not think that she owned the watch and gave to Ernest insted of buying a new one ? she was Scot, in any case ...
-> posts merged by system <-
Jerry, I have seen pieces from 1860 to 1918, the earlier ones I have are plain on the back, but I have just 2 1810 and 1840 in my files
 

Burkhard Rasch

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Just for illustration some of my English pocketwatches,all with different patterns around the shield:Never had a close look on that,but from now on I will.
Burkhard
 

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graybear

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Thanks, Burkhard. IIIrd and IVth do not have the strap-and-buckle sign. Conditions, as far as I can see, is a dangling part at 6 o'clock and a buckle at 7 or 8, and holes, I'd say 4 to 8.
 

MartyR

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Just for illustration some of my English pocketwatches,all with different patterns around the shield:Never had a close look on that,but from now on I will.
Burkhard
Me too. The Gray Bear has given us all a new layer of interest in our watches, and isn't that nice? :)
 

graybear

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Thanks, Marthy, you're too kind. The point, however, is that I am studying the effect of the Worshipful Guild of Watchmaers rules & habits on PWs, and I was trying to link the strap-and-buckle (thought as the Garter, in the wrong way) to such habits, but without any result. One more point that seems likely to come from rules of the WGofW is the fact that I suppose that PWs with blank dials, without a maker's/dealer's name were manufactured by companies not in link, via a freeman, with the Guild itself (like Waltham or a Swiss maker selling directly or via a UK company not in the Guild). For instance H. Samuel (H stands for Henriette ...) never made a movement, but she came out of a family of freemen (the father in law, if I recollect). The 1631 Charter, in fact, in paragraphs 26-32 has provisions for "destroying OR defacing" any "unsatisfactory" watch brought or sold in UK by non members, and of "marking" acceptable ones. This could be a trace leading to Victorian habits in watchmaking, isn' t it?
I would really appreciate some light on these matters ... any freeman here, please ?
 

graybear

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Hi
the case has been hallmarked at Chester office on 1886, and the casemaker was Isaac Jabez & Theo Newsome, with shop at The Butts, Coventry. The maker's mark has been registered on July 1884, so the tings fit.
The emblem is a "Strap-and-Buckle" and not a Garter: you can define this by looking at the dangling piece of the strap, but is is strange, being oval instead that circular. All I can say is that, being rather late, traditions were fading, and it is possble that even the freemen of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths were no longer looking at such details
 

LloydB

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To the best of my knowledge, the "strap" of the Order
of the Garter is only represented in blue with gold fittings,
and with the MOTTO present as well. (I would have said
invariably so, but then someone would invariably find an
exception ;-)

The form of the badge of the Order is otherwise *also*
of the strap and buckle arrangement -- a quick net
search will confirm this.

These 'other' strap and buckle designs found on watch
cases and clan badges may represent a "garter", or may
have originated as something else, but the form is very
similar.

The only hazard in describing the strap and buckle as a
'garter' might be in implying some relationship to the
Order. As an ornamental motif, it became very common
in Scotland, where it was very widely adopted. (As were
actual garters, for that matter... you don't want your kilt
hose bunching 'round your ankles!).

I have no reason to doubt that its use on watch cases may
have been, at one time, adopted in a quite specific way by
the Scottish gentry. There was an amazing amount of
pseudo-heraldic reinvention of Scottish history (and all the
trappings to go along with it) associated with the visit of
George IV to Edinburgh in 1822.

*******************
As a side note, the Robert Bryson firm in Edinburgh
was a large-scale manufacturer of watches, clocks
and scientific instruments, founded in the early 1800's.
One of my very few examples of fusees was made
by a John Bryson, marked 'Geo. IV Bridge, Edinburgh'
I haven't been able to establish how (or if) this maker
is related to the larger Edinburgh establishment, or
if he's somehow related to a branch in nearby Dalkeith.
 
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graybear

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Hi Lloyd
At the beginning of this post there are the pictures of the Strap-and-Buckle vs the Garter, and I'm pretty sure that the idea of casemakers was to represent the S-a-B for the very simple reason that use the Garter on a personal belonging, not being, of course a member of the Most Noble Order was, at least, a mayor blunder. Moreover the Garter has to be shown, in any case, only in blue and gold. On the other side, the S-a-B is a sign of pride of a nation, so no problem, provided you are a clansman, to show and use it. In any case colors of the S-a-B are either white or silver, no other admitted, except full gold for the ladies, So I came to the conclusion that the emblem definitely is the S-a-B. The difference in drawing is the way the strap ends, knotted below the ring on the Garter and dangling above in the S-a-B
 

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