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Clerke London - 1814 maybe? Watch papers and even a letter of ownership!

pocket2100

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Just got this one off ebay and while the crystal is gone, that can be replaced. The movement has "Clerke London" on it. This seems like it might be in reference to George Clerke who was a watchmaker in London from around 1780 to 1820 (Collections Online | British Museum). Based on the case marks, I think this is from 1814, but could use a second opinion to be sure.

The case is silver and seems to be in decent shape, but the really interesting thing is the papers. I pulled these out and they kept going and going. Seems it made it's way through Toronto for several years and then Pittsburgh. From what I remember, Pittsburgh didn't have the H at the end until 1911, so the Pittsburgh paper is likely the newest. Here's some pictures..

re_20210122_102256.jpg re_20210122_102329.jpg re_20210122_102614.jpg re_20210122_103118.jpg re_20210122_103123.jpg re_20210122_103151.jpg re_20210122_103200.jpg re_20210122_103205.jpg re_20210122_103214.jpg re_20210122_103221.jpg re_20210122_103226.jpg re_20210122_103252.jpg re_20210122_103438.jpg re_20210122_103449.jpg re_20210122_103656.jpg
 

pocket2100

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I also cannot make out the makers mark. It appears to be I S, but I can't find a mark that looks like this one anywhere that I look. So maybe it's not an S.

There's also an M stamped on the pair case, and a B stamped on the watch case. Any idea what that is there for?
 

pocket2100

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I have to take back my comment on the Pittsburgh spelling... after further resarch it seems only a few companies spelled it as Pittsburg in the 1800's, most people still used Pittsburgh.
 

gmorse

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Hi pocket2100,

Based on the case marks, I think this is from 1814, but could use a second opinion to be sure.
The date is certainly 1814/15, assayed in London. The maker's mark is a different matter; I was initially considering that the box and the case, (the inner and outer), could have been from different makers. This was not unusual and isn't necessarily a clue that the case was a later replacement, which it clearly isn't in this instance. However, the first letter is very similar, allowing for rubbing and possibly a worn punch, but the second is a mystery. There are a great many makers registered in London with incuse marks whose first initial is an 'I' and whose dates are possible for these cases.

The 'B' and the 'M' are the marks of the jointers, the craftsmen who made the hinges ('joints') and fitted the parts of the cases together. These aren't recorded anywhere and were only relevant to the case maker who employed them. They were important because they could ruin a case with a misplaced file stroke when they were making the joints, so the maker needed to be able to identify them.

Although the movement is signed for London, the name is likely to be for the retailer. There are 13 Clerkes listed in Loomes, 4 or 5 of which could be your man, going by their recorded dates and locations. The movement probably originated in Coventry.

It looks as though the balance staff is broken, which is what the sketch on the back of the watch paper depicts. A great stack of watch papers by the way!

Regards,

Graham
 
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pocket2100

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Thanks for the information. I wound it just a bit and the minute hand started flying, so the staff does appear to be broken and likely not worth fixing at this time. I don't mind though, I enjoy the history of it. Just need to try to get a new crystal for it and try my hand at installing one of those.
 

John Matthews

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I have a Coventry verge housed in pair cases that carry similar marks. Like the one you show the maker's mark on the box is rather poorly formed - I say this rather than rubbed, because, again like your example, the remaining marks have remained sharp. In my opinion, both your box and outer case carry the mark {IG} incuse - the same same as the box on my example.

20170806 005-2.jpg 20170806 005-3.jpg

This being the mark of Joseph Glenny, who registered the mark from 6 Badger Yard, Red Lion Square, Clerkenwell.

John
 

Rich Newman

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Thank you for sharing. It is exceedingly unusual for this many watch papers to still be found within a watch so I think you have made a very nice purchase. Relatively few Canadian papers come up, compared with England & the U.S. examples, because Canada had fewer large towns / cities to support retailers and repair shops during the 1800's. Unfortunately papers have been yanked from watches for generations and sold separately. In fact a number of dealers even today regularly embellish watches with papers found elsewhere to make more profit. Keep in mind that it is very difficult to verify if papers are original to the watch or not. The Pittsburgh paper likely dates from late 1830's to early 1840's. If you look a bit closer, you will see that there is an "h" at the end of "Pittsburg" but its just a bit to the right. I'm attaching another picture of Gilmore's paper that shows this a bit more clearly and this example has a date of 1839 on the back.
Wm Gilmore 1a.JPG
 
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tick talk

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It is quite interesting to see these watch papers from Upper Canada, thanks for sharing. Charles Sewell was a bit of a historic character, being one of the leaders of an early labour movement; the Mechanics Association, "to alleviate the plight of the journeyman mechanic". One of their earliest activities was to lobby against prison labour. Not because it was exploitation of prisoners, mind you, but because they had seen in American cities when prisoners were taught a trade and produced wares which were then sold to the public by prison authorities, they undercut the prices of established merchants and, in some cases, ruined their trade.

Sewell died in 1848, still a practicing watch maker at that unusual address 11 1/2 Wellington Buildings, King Street, Toronto.

Sewell 1837 directory.png
 

pocket2100

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Great information, really appreciate you all sharing. I think I'm going to put a new paper in the watch with my information and reference the serial number on the movement to ensure it doesn't move to another watch. Will be my own piece of history for this watch.

This is the first European watch I've found that did not spend most of it's life somewhere in Europe. It appears to have lived it's life in Canada and the US.

Does anyone know what type of crystal this would have had originally? Would it have had one of those large bulging ones or just something more plain?
 

gmorse

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Hi pocket2100,

Does anyone know what type of crystal this would have had originally? Would it have had one of those large bulging ones or just something more plain?
It would have been a plain high dome to clear the tall cannon pinion, probably without the commonly seen 'bullseye' flat portion in the centre.

Regards,

Graham
 

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