American Colonial Watch Maker Anyone have any better info? Thanks.

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by LarryW, Sep 1, 2017.

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  1. LarryW

    LarryW Registered User

    Jan 26, 2014
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    Not sure if I Should post it here or in the European watches forum section. I bought this parts movement with dust cover attached really cheap for $12 and I thought it was a pretty good steal. Now I'm trying to figure out if these parts are correct for the Dust cover. The dust cover appears to say


    Union Village
    Geo. Russel Esq
    Chrometer


    As we can see in the pictures it also appears to be a crudely done inscription in the dust cover but I feel pretty confident that it is authentic.
    In the Complete Price Guide to Watches, they got this maker listed as Phila. PA 1840. BUT when I bought it, I was not able to inspect the movement to see under the dust cover. I don't think the person knew how to take it off. I was lucky that the balance cock and wheel where still on the parts movement. Just the guts missing. That person only had this 1 watch for sale everything else was just old stuff non watch related.


    So, As we can see in the picture it appears that the Movement is made by someone else completely.


    Wm Hollison
    London
    No 12599


    All the holes on the dust cover appear to line up correctly. I'm guessing that the style is correct for the time period. Its a Huge movement. Approximately 43mm wide and 18mm thick with the dial. I cannot find any other information on George Russel so I don't know anything else about him. Is it possible he just made cases and dust covers for these imported movements or is this a Franken Fusee someone just threw the dust cover onto? The dust cover is a really nice fit to the movement. What do the experts think? I understand that most of these colonial watchmakers just finished off the watches and cased them. And im pretty sure that's what is going on here with this dust cover on this movement. Not sure though. Any input appreciated. Thanks!

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  2. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    7,126
    16
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    Hi LarryW,

    The caps for English watches like this were custom made for specific movements, so if it's a good fit with everything lining up, you can be pretty certain that it's original to this movement. The crudely scratched engraving of Russell on the cap is nothing to do with its maker, but is the work of a previous owner. This couldn't be regarded as a chronometer by any stretch of the imagination, it's a modest quality verge from the 1820s or 30s, known at the time as a 'plain watch', and unfortunately since almost all the train is now missing, it has only some slight historical interest.

    Hollison was the retailer, not the maker; no one person ever made a complete watch, it was the product of up to 100 specialist craftspeople. It may have been exported as an uncased movement and cased locally in the US.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  3. LarryW

    LarryW Registered User

    Jan 26, 2014
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    Thanks for the reply Graham. At first i thought movements like these would be really common to find on the net. But for the age period and the size of this one, I havent seen any in this style with a Dust cover. Im not even seeing any movements with dust cover catches on them from this time period with this type style pierced balance cock on the larger movements. I see the smaller bell shaped ones though.The dust cover seems to have been a lot less common by the turn of the century on these larger pocket watches. I tried to find some more information on George Russell, but information is very limited and found some information on the net by someone tracing their genealogy back to this person. I found some information that suggest George Russell may have served in the Revolutionary war. There seems to have been 2 George Russell alive and in Pennsylvania at this time. Interesting piece for me. I guess with such limited information available, I will just assume that George Russell either worked on the watch, or imported it and sold here in the United States as you suggest. He probably even cased it up here. He may have even made the case himself which is missing. Thanks for your input.

    Larry.
     
  4. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    7,126
    16
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    Hi Larry,

    I think you should not assume that; given the very crude nature of the engraving on the cap, George Russell was not involved in any way with the production or import of the watch, but was just an owner marking his property in a rather amateurish fashion.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  5. LarryW

    LarryW Registered User

    Jan 26, 2014
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    I see, Well I think with that information and the little bit more information I found out, This George Russell engraving might not be the American colonial watch maker I thought it was when I bought the watch.

    I dug a bit further into the genealogy of George Russell and I think I might have a very good watch. There is a Union Village in Franklin Tennessee. You can google " davy crockett george Russell " And see what I'm seeing. I wonder if this who the watch belonged too now. I sent the person I bought it from a message to see how they obtained the watch. They seem to be selling stuff from early American colonial time period.

    You know if the engraving would have said Davy Crockett on it I would have probably believed it to be some kind of hoax, But seeing as its George Russell, Well, that name doesn't ring any kind of bells to me and would have to be researched by someone to find out who he is. I think I got me a legit nice piece of history here.
     
  6. LarryW

    LarryW Registered User

    Jan 26, 2014
    22
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    Graham,

    When you said the watch was from the 1820/30 time frame, did you actually look up the maker to see if they were listed or did you just assign it a time range for production based off its appearance?

    I have the book Old Clocks and Watches & Their Makers 5th edition and these makers are not listed here. I know there is a book with a more comprehensive list out there but I don't remember what its called. Ive seen it before. Can someone look and see if the maker Wm Hollison is listed and give me a production timeline that they may have operated during if it is recorded? Thank you!

    I want to make sure I know which George Russell's watch I have. From what I read, George Russell Sr. Signed the Very first Declaration of Independence that America had. (Watauga Petition of 1776). The Russells where all over this part of the country in the 1780's to 1840's. The original ones were wealthy people. Slave owners, Esquires, Military Officers, Etc Etc. More precise dating on the production of the movement would be helpful. Thanks again.
     
  7. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    7,126
    16
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    Hi Larry,

    I did look up Hollison in my Britten's, (same book as yours but 9th edition), and he isn't in there. The other book you mentioned is probably 'Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World: Complete 21st Century Edition' by Brian Loomes, (ISBN 0719803306). A lot of the information in the original 1929 edition by G.H. Bailey was drawn from Britten's. I was basing my estimate of the date on the appearance of the movement.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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