An interesting 'Johnson' watch token

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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I am sometimes attracted to purchase items related to watches in my collection - this is such an example - a token that may have had more than just advertising purpose.

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John Johnson was born in Dublin ~1825 and he may have been the son of F T Johnson a watch maker in Parliament Street in the 1820s & 1830s. He arrived in Preston in the 1860s and was active until the mid 1880s. A number of watches with his signature have been posted on the forum and there has been a question whether he may have been related to Joseph Johnson of Liverpool - I believe this to be unlikely.

He was advertised as a railway watch manufacturer while he was trading, as well as a jeweller, silversmith, engraver and hardware dealer. It is probably reasonable to assume that he was a retailer and, while he may not have been involved in significant finishing, it seems possible that he would have repaired watches. The interesting feature of the token is the implication of the existence a 'patent lever club', run by Johnson in Preston and that he issued uniquely numbered tokens. I am aware of two further tokens #49 & #79.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,
The interesting feature of the token is the implication of the existence a 'patent lever club', run by Johnson in Preston and that he issued uniquely numbered tokens.
Perhaps this implies that he was running some sort of subscription plan for the purchase of watches by his customers.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Graham - yes that was a thought that crossed my mind.

Preston was a significant railway town at the time - see


so perhaps it was specifically targeting railway workers.

John
 
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jboger

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John:

This is a topic of interest to me as well. In 1837, the U.S. Northeast underwent an economic panic and hard currency was hoarded. As a consequence many businesses had struck, by private mints (similar to Boulton's I think but in the US), brass and copper advertising tokens that circulated right alongside regular US coinage as no law prevented private mintage, at least not until 1857. On another thread I posted a picture of a verge retailed by Mott's of lower Manhattan. That fancy goods store issued a token about this time, as did Smith's Clock Establishment, also located in lower Manhattan. If you search on those two names, you will find images of their tokens. There are others as well. These tokens are generally called Hard Times tokens.
 

John Matthews

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I recently started capturing photographs of tokens that were issued by watch makers when I encounter them, but I don't search for them. The 2 I have photographs of from US were issued by Clark & Anthony, Providence and Hiram Judson, Syracruse - unable to post as I don't have copyright.

John
 

Lychnobius

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From the appearance of the locomotive – in particular, the fact that it has no protection for the crew at all, not even a screen – I should imagine that this token dates from the very earliest years of Johnson's operation in Preston.

I wonder if the 'club' was a kind of subscription enterprise enabling people with small resources to buy, on the instalment plan, decent watches which would normally have been beyond their means? In that period one hears of various schemes of this kind, such as the 'Alpha Inn Turkey Club' in the Sherlock Holmes story The Blue Carbuncle (1892).
 
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LloydB

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From the appearance of the locomotive – in particular, the
fact that it has no protection for the crew at all, not even a
screen – I should imagine that this token dates from the
very earliest years of Johnson's operation in Preston.
[snipped
The locomotive image on the token reminded me,
immediately, of the William Wilson thread,


The "Adler", manufactured in the early 1830's, had
very similar characteristics.
 

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