Damaskeening Terminology

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Clint Geller, Apr 13, 2012.

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  1. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    #1 Clint Geller, Apr 13, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
    I would like to expand my vocabulary of terms with which to describe and differentiate between specific damascening, or damaskeening (po-tay-to, po-tah-to) patterns on watch plates? I am especially interested in historic terms which may have been used in the watch industry or in the watch trades themselves at the time when highly damascened movements were being produced. Of course there are "Geneva stripes," "rayed" damaskeening, "swirl" damascening, "Sunburst," and "fish scale" damascening. Past Jones and Horan auction catalogs are often quite replete with damascening terminology, e.g. "Bull's eye pattern," "Radiant Flame Pattern," "Rossette Pattern," "Wheel Satin," "Concentric Woven Pattern with Arcaded Surrounds," "radiant sectioned fausses-cotes [French for 'false rib'] pattern," "peaked arcaded surrounds," "twin arcaded surrounds," "radiant rope-twist pattern with florette center," to name some, but I don't know whether all of these terms have historical roots.

    Is anyone aware of watch factory or trade literature with interesting damascening terminology, or perhaps compilations of such terms by horologists?
     
  2. John Cash

    John Cash Registered User

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    while this question is perhaps much more basic and simple than the question being posed above by this thread.......I was hoping that while those that are knowledgeable, respond by answering this threads inital question ...........could some one also tell a poor simpleton such as I .....um........ exactly how you PROPERLY pronounce the word "damascening" or "damaskeening" (however it is spelled) ....thanks........
     
  3. Tom McIntyre

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    dam ass keen ing or dam ass seen ing, depending on whether the K or SC form is used. The ancient metal working technique using folded polished metal was called damascening after Damascus steel and the watered silk pattern. As noted in a recent post with a snap shot from the trade press, the term damaskeening was used and I think that was the more common term.

    The term is primarily or exclusively used by American watch decorators. In Europe each of the decorative forms has its own name, I believe.
     
  4. John Cash

    John Cash Registered User

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    thanks!!!..
    .... now hopefully someone will be about to provide clint with some information regarding his more complex questions regarding dam ass keen ing ....................
     
  5. Clint Geller

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    #5 Clint Geller, Apr 14, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
    The question of which form of the word to use has always been a dilemma for me. On the one hand, saying or writing "damaskeening" instead of "damascening," strikes me as a lot like saying "Eye-talian" instead of "Italian," or "nukular" instead of "nuclear." (I tell the engineers in the nuclear physics class I teach that saying "nukular" where I can hear it is the easiest way to flunk my course.) But on the other hand, correctly spelling the name of a historical steel working process which has absolutely nothing to do with the way watch plates are decorated is not necessarily an improvement. If the American watch trade was going to modify (corrupt?) a pre-existing word or phrase to describe their decoration technique, they might at least have chosen an appropriate word or phrase to modify. "Genevising" would have been more justifiable than "damaskeening," but perhaps that choice would have given a competitor nation too much credit for the American trade's liking. Then too, the trade probably wished to promote the fanciful association with Damascus steel.

    For better or for worse, "damaskeening" was the word coined by the American trade. So perhaps for traditional reasons it is the best word to use in reference to American watches.
     
  6. terry hall

    terry hall Registered User
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    For Illinois, it would seem most of the pattern names were assigned by Bill Meggers.... and for the 16 and 18s movements given a 'number' which is apparently the order in which he had seen the various patterns...
    Bill named the 'ninth' "pinwheel" pattern before his death.... and of course after the publication of the Illinois 'book'
    MVC-016F.JPG
     

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  7. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    When writing for the Bulletin, Ed and I always used the spelling "damaskeening" or "damaskeened." Originally, the editor sent the proofs back with it changed to "damascening" or "damascened." We responded with some samples of watch company descriptions which used "damaskeened" and asked if it could be changed back to that spelling, since that was what the watch companies used. She agreed and we've used it that way ever since.

    Getting back to Clint's question, I don't recall any terms to describe the damaskeening other than beautiful or elegant.
     
  8. Larry Treiman

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    #8 Larry Treiman, Apr 15, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
    In the December 1967 commemorative issue of "Timely Topics" (the Hamilton company magazine) there was a mention of the fact that damaskeening, "....largely a hand operation, was eventually replaced by a milliskeened decorative finish on bridges." Hamilton gave no details, nor did they give a date for the change.

    However, according to Art Zimmerla, in 1952 they ceased damaskeen finish in favor of milliskeen, which used a canted end mill to provide parallel finish pattern. I think Art was referring to the 992B and 950B, but the comment from Hamilton in "Timely Topics" seems to indicate that the change applied to all of their watch movements.

    So, now there is another word to put to test the spelling creativity of message board contributors. The ones that bug me are the spellings that begin with "demask...," e.g., demaskeen (I don't recall if I have ever seen "demascene"). Oh well, none of those are as bad, IMHO, as that obnoxious, nauseatingly cutesy made-up word "tu-tone" instead of the so much more difficult to type "2-tone" or "two-tone." <];>)

    End of rant!


    Larry Treiman
     
  9. Tom McIntyre

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    The pattern on the attached was has been called the DeLong Diamond pattern by me. It is also a milled pattern rather than the application DeLongFinish.jpg
    of a damaskeening machine as shown in the other attachment.The DeLong pattern of diamonds appears to have been made by a tool with 4 diamond (or carbide) points at a regular spacing, applied with skips and rotations on each pass.

    46starkdamaskeening.jpg
     
  10. Clint Geller

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    Stunning!
     
  11. terry hall

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    "tu-tone"... guilty as charged :D

    I did find a named pattern in a quick review this morning....
    Page 293 of Megger's Illinois book..... advertisement for Benjamin Franklin (1910 Oskamp-Nolting Co. catalog page cut)

    figure 2, "no. 325" the description mentions "beautfully finished in bright rayed damaskeening"

    figure 3, 'no. 350' states "damaskeened in bright pattern"

    on page 196, there is shown a "1915 factory advertisement".... on this page there are notations that can indicate 'factory named' patterns....
    for figure 1, a 18s Bunn Special it states "damaskeened in bright spotted pattern"
    for figure 2, an 18s Bunn grade it states "handsomely damaskeened in bright sunburst pattern"
    Figure 3 is an A. Lincoln grade and has for description "damaskeened in an attractive Bright Striped Pattern"

    However, on the opposite page showing 16s movements, similar patterns are not 'named' (with the exception of the 16s A. Lincoln grade)... nor are patterns we know as 'fishscale', crosshatch, etc

    soooo.......... maybe Bill did not name em all !!
     
  12. MartyR

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    Sorry, Terry, that's withdrawal of posting privileges for ... ummm .... well it's either five years or five minutes, I don't exactly recall which for the moment.

    And no right of appeal.
     
  13. Clint Geller

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    Great post, Terry. Thanks for the info. Illinois should have had the much more inventive Jones & Horan catolog writers working for them. The surviving Howard factory production records also list some keywind movements as "Rayed."

    Here's a related question to the one which started the thread: Which watch manufacturers employed specific damaskeening patterns effectively as grade designators? In other words, which makers used specific damaskeening patterns uniformly and exclusively for specific watch grades?
     
  14. Jim Haney

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    A little shot at the J&H description writers??:cop:

    The answer to your question ,and also the only company that I know of to do this and also have a system for grade numbers to alert you you to a hunting or open face movement.:D
    There were some exceptions to this general rule but as the majority of watch grades are concerned, it holds true.

    Hamilton:excited:
     
  15. ben_hutcherson

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    South Bend did this too-the only problem was they got the numbering backwards! Odd South Bends are OF, and evens are HC.
     
  16. Kent

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    Columbus Watch Co.
    E. Howard Watch Co. - some grades
    United States Watch Co., Waltham, Mass
     
  17. Clint Geller

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    #17 Clint Geller, Apr 16, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
     
  18. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    Thanks, Guy down in Georgia
     
  19. Jim Haney

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  20. Tom McIntyre

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    Just to clarify the authorship, the description and grading as well as estimating for J&H is done by David Searles with occasional recourse to other specialists.
     
  21. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    Yep. That was my recollection too, but I wasn't 100% sure. In any case, "J&H" is responsible for the descriptions since they are published under their name, although I didn't know the "H" is no longer involved. I would be proud to have published one of their catalogs. I think their descriptions of damascening are vivid and evocative, which is a good thing.
     
  22. Tom McIntyre

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    The H is the maiden name for Daniel's aunt. Dan was never a partner in J&H.
     
  23. Jerry Treiman

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    By the 1900s Waltham was also using specific patterns, on the plates and winding wheels, for specific grades.
     
  24. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    I see. I never enquired about the ownership of the business. They were a sponsor of the 2002 NAWCC Seminar, the first of two which I chaired, and they both participated in and supported the Pocket Horology Chapter as well. They are good people.
     
  25. Clint Geller

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    Hi Jerry,

    Do you mean, for instance, the very distinctive Riv Max winding wheels, or the distinctive, straight lined wheels on the American Grade Model 88's? Were there other patterns which were used in the same way?
     
  26. Robert Smothers

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    Terry-

    I only have interest in Bunn Special 16 size movements, so I do not know what the "nineth" pattern is. I have the pinwheel as the seventh pattern, named by Bill Meggers. It is my understanding that Bill named these patterns in the order of production for patterns 1-5, and patterns 6 & 7 were named after they were discovered even though they were produced before the 5th pattern. Do we have factory records that identify these patterns differently?

    Robert

    1st Pattern- Brite-spotted
    2nd Pattern- Fishscale
    3rd Pattern- Sun Burst (Bunn Grade)
    4th Pattern- Rayed
    5th Pattern- Interuppted-rayed
    6th Pattern- All Over Gold
    7th Pattern- Pinwheel
     
  27. Tom McIntyre

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    This discussion reminds me that the A. Lincoln grade of Illinois uses a distinctive pin stripe pattern across essentially all models. It is distinctive enough to allow one to recognize an Abe Lincoln from a table or two away.

    Movement.jpg
     
  28. Jerry Treiman

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    Waltham not only had distinctive winding wheel patterns for different grades, but also used distinctive damaskeening on the plates. It is often possible to determine the grade of private-label movements from these patterns.
     
  29. Nathan2307

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    I've heard this called the "flowers and arches" pattern but I'm not sure that's what it was referred to by Seth Thomas back in the day...
    Seth Thomas.jpg
     
  30. terry hall

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    Robert....
    OOPS.... I was obviously mistaken on 'ninth' pattern.... thank you for the correction...

    Tom.... except when that striped pattern is a Getty Sangamo Grade :D
     
  31. ben_hutcherson

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    Terry,

    Just where would you find one of those? :p Or five of them? :)

    Wasn't this pattern also used on some 18 size Bunn Specials?
     
  32. Clint Geller

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    I think the American Grade Model 1891 double oughts were all damaskeened the same way too, and I don't think that model ever was made in any other grade. I think I have seen the same damaskeeing pattern turn up once on a late American grade Model 1872.
     
  33. terry hall

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    i must say fred found the most of em....

    and yes there is a striped pattern 18s bunn special
    this one is not the 'best' of plate condition, but i'll claim it anyhooooo....

    it also comes up 'funny' in the Illinois CD....
     

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