Early English verges, balance cock or bridge, David Lestourgeon

Bernhard J.

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Hi,

Every once and then the rule comes up, that English watches (or small clocks) typically have balance cocks and that watches with English signatures, but balance bridge, in fact were not made in England. Of course, no rule without exception.

David Lestourgeon is a well known watchmaker active during the turn of 17th/18th century. He came to London from Rouen (France) in 1681 and lived until 1731.

Here is a watch signed with this name and you will find several really unusual features. Other known watches by him have the expected "mainstream" design of that era. So, what do you think? Is it original or some kind of fake? I bought it about 30 years ago.

Cheers, Bernhard

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musicguy

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It is interesting looking.


Rob
 
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musicguy

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I don't know too much about early English watches although I do own
three, two from the 1870's and the other 1760's. Your watch has some interesting additions to the
pillars that I have never seen. But just because
I have not seen it is really meaningless.:);):)



Rob
 

Bernhard J.

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One might note the different spelling of the name on dial and movement (Lesturgeon versus Lestourgeon).

There are other watches of this era known with the signature "Lesturgeon" on the dial, by the way.

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John Matthews

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Any marks on the box?

The are two examples in The English Watch #1331 ~1707 with [PW] on the box and #1709 ~1715 with IW incuse possibly John Willoughby, also a movement #1386 & watch in Clockmakers Collection - but I have no details.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi Bernhard,
One might note the different spelling of the name
One has indeed noticed that the signatures on the dial central reserve and the top plate are spelt differently; 'Lesturgeon' and 'Lestourgeon'. There also appear to be pins in the edge of that reserve at I and IX. These centres were made separately from the rest of the dial, to carry whatever signature was needed, and engravers' errors aren't that uncommon. On the other hand they do lend themselves to the re-naming of watches without too much trouble.

The balance bridge is admittedly not often found in English work, but it is known, with Josiah Emery being a famous example, (and he was Swiss in origin).

The applied silver decorations to the pillars tend to be an early feature, and these do have a French theme to them, but then, he was presumably one of the Huguenot immigrants, or a descendant, driven here by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which greatly enriched many crafts in England, not only watchmaking.

Regards,

Graham
 

Dr. Jon

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I suggest the inconsistencies argue that it is what its signatures say it is.

These watches as made in London were the work of numerous specialists and they were not all native English speakers. London was absorbing expelled Huguenot artisans and this watch looks like what I imagine they would have done.

This is a very historic item because it shows the work and contribution of these refugees to English horology.

A Dutch/Swiss fake would have been less ornate and more consistent in spelling.

It seems Graham were typing at the same time
 

remo87

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Original or not it's a really beautiful and untypical watch, so what the collectors like the most!
 
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Rich Newman

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Its interesting to ponder about why this divide took place. As pointed out, some of the best English makers secured some of their balance cocks with two screws rather than one screw and a steady pin. Doing so may have began with the Fromanteels. John Harrison did it on H4. I've seen others, and always on very high quality English watches. I can't think of a single reason, other than cost perhaps, that favors a single screw arrangement. So why didn't English makers use a bridge more often?
 

John Matthews

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If it were to be assumed that the serial numbers of movements signed by David Lestourgeon do have a chronological significance, a dangerous assumption, although possibly made by Cuss #1331 -> ~1707 and #1709 -> ~1715, this movement, #2322 would be later than the former. While this example has the balance bridge, the two 'earlier' examples have the traditional English cock. Personally my intuition is that the bridge would have been used on his earlier movements reflecting the practice common in France. So in the absence of my knowledge of data to support the chronological significance of his serial numbers, I suspect that this does not exist and Bernard's example is earlier than the movements that have the balance bridge.

John
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Bernard, your David Lestourgeon was born in Rouen in France, in January 1665. First known in London was his freedom of the Watchmakers Company in 1698. All you need is a copy of Loomes "Clockmakers of Britain 1286-1700" There is plenty more information on David and his father David in there. (Probably learned his trade in France).

Allan.
 
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John Matthews

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Bernard - I have done a little research on the Lestourgeon family.

There were at least 4 Davids, of which the first three were watch makers. I & II are as identified in Loomes (Allan #14) The David born in 1665 is the one that was admitted as a Brother possibly in 1797 rather than 1798 as normally quoted. I believe he was the maker of your watch.

He was married to Maria Anne (Marianne) and although Loomes identifies a ceremony on 1 April, 1701, there are records of the baptism of Maria Anne on 12 March, 1693 as well as Elizabeth 21 December, 1701. Although I cannot find a record of the birth of David III, he was apprenticed to his father 3 April, 1704. So on the basis that this is unlikely to have commenced before he was 14, he must have been born <= 1690. David II's death is well documented, together with his will in 1736. He is recorded as watch maker and inn holder In Finch Lane from at least 1707.

The apprentice records show that David III remained under his father until 5 June, 1721. I infer that it is at sometime in this period that he started to contribute significantly to the Lestourgeon output. He is recorded as CC from 1721-51.

David Thompson in Watches describes a watch now in the British Museum which is dated as 1702 from the inscription and carries a production number of #5448 ..

back of movement.jpg face II.jpg

These photographs and the description from the BM ...
"Lost last Saturday night, the 16th instant, in or near St. James's Park, a silver pendulum watch, the maker David Lestourgeon, with a silver chain, the pendulum upon the dial plate, with the Queen's-Head upon the inside plate, and underneath Reg. Incipit. 8 die Martii 1702.
Whoever brings it to Mr. Lestourgeon, watchmaker in Lothbury, shall have one guinea reward, without being askt any questions."
London Daily Courant, 19 July 1709
(from research by W.R. and V.B. McLeod and John R. Millburn)
This watch is signed 'David Lestourgeon London' in two cartouches on the movement's back plate and in the middle of the back is the inscription 'Regn incip 8 mart 1702' beneath a portrait bust of Queen Anne with the insignia of state: orb, sceptre, sword and crown. This inscription shows that, although similar, this is not the watch that was lost near St James's Park. It is, however, a 'pendulum watch' and, like the Fardoil watch (registration no. 1958,1201.2347), it has a visible balance seen through an aperture in the dial.
....
David Lestourgeon, a Huguenot watchmaker, was married in Rouen in 1660. He went in 1681 to London, where he was naturalized the following year. It was probably his son, also David, who made this watch. He became a Free Brother in the Clockmakers' Company in 1698, perhaps having learned his skills from his father. His business was in Lothbury in the City, and he is thought to have died in 1731. ... The number 5448, punched into both cases, is Lestourgeon's production number.

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If it was the David who died in 1731 (will 1736?) that was married in Rouen in 1660 he would have have to been in his 80s or 90s at his death. In the C18th this seems unlikely. I believe it is more likely that David II born in 1665 who came to London and made this watch (#5488) - the same David who made Bernard's watch (#2322) which I now believe was made very shortly after he arrived in London.

Jeremy Lancelotte Evans.JPG

Given the apprentice records it cannot be the son of the David who was admitted as a brother in 1697/98 who made the watch, but it was the son of David I who was married in 1660 as Thompson indicates.

John

EDIT - I did consider that these two watches carry production (serial) numbers that are part of a sequence that was started in France and that the 'later' lower sequence of numbers were initiated in London possibly when David III started to become influential ~1710 :???:
 
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Incroyable

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That dial is very impressive. Very tactile looking.
 

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