Early example of Morton's 'lever chronometer'

John Matthews

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This movement is an early example of Morton's 'lever chronometer' which he patented in 1857. The patent was discussed in a talk by David Penney reported in AH vol 18/01 Spring 1989, from which I have extracted a copy of an abridged version of the patent. (note the patent number is incorrect - I believe it should be 2434) According to David Penney while the movements were variously engraved, the earliest 'Morton's Patent' and the latest 'Patent Union Chronometer', all were numbered in a single continuous series ranging up to 3000+. This movement is #456 and it is the lowest serial number I have so far found. I hope this post may bring further examples to light.

The movement has a damaged dial, with the insert second dial detached and no second hand. I am not certain that the existing two hands are original. The train is free and the fusee/barrel is working. The radial jewel inset into the roller is in place but appears to have been crudely formed, I wonder if it might be quartz. The unlocking/safety jewel has separated from the roller. It seems to me that this composite roller of brass (I assume) and steel is significantly more complex than the later examples that I have seen illustrated. The brass ring that has been formed to hold the now detached unlocking jewel with the associated passing arc, seem unusual.

John 306284.jpg 306285.jpg 306286.jpg 306287.jpg 306288.jpg 306289.jpg 306290.jpg 306291.jpg 306292.jpg 306293.jpg 306294.jpg 306295.jpg
 
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John Matthews

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Nice watch/chronometer. Seems very similar to Robin escapement.
You are correct, Morton's patent is described as a Robin-type movement.

According to Clutton and Daniels, in 1791, Robert Robin, having examined one of Emery's levers, devised 'a form of escapement in which the lever was used for locking, but the escape wheel gives the impulse on alternative beats, like a chronometer.' The Robin escapement was subsequently used by Breguet and others. In 'It's About Time', Chamberlain indicates that Robert Robin (1742-1799) was the horologist to Louis XV and that Louis received one of Robin's escapements in 1796. According to Chamberlain there have been many variations of the Robin escapement. For information, I attach copies of five variants provided in these two references. 306391.jpg 306392.jpg 306393.jpg
 

John Matthews

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I have now made two attempts to obtain a copy of the Morton patent from the UK Patent Office. When I ordered 2432, the copy of the patent returned was for the manufacture of cast steel by Henry Bessemer (the famous Bessemer Process I believe) and subsequently I have been told that 2434 is for Power Looms by William Naylor and "that it did not proceed to the Great Seal". The two numbers I used are the ones quoted by David Penney on his site when describing examples of Morton's chronometer.

In both cases, I quoted the date and 'George Morton' but this seems to be insufficient for the PO to check their records and find the appropriate patent. I was wondering whether anyone might have any further information/sources that would help to direct the PO sales team to the correct patent. I have obtained copies of Massey's patents 3559 (1812) and 3854 (1814), so I assume that as both patent numbers quoted for Morton are lower, that the numbering system system had changed in the intervening period or are there some prefix digits that I'm missing?

Any help would be appreciated.

John
 

MartyR

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2432 is the correct number, John - I have an original copy of "Abridgements of the Specifications relating to Watches, Clocks and Other Timekeepers" (#9 which relates only toPatents I and IA to iI, whatever that represents!). The book was published in 1858.

Morton's patent was registerd on 17th October 1856. A brief c150 word description is given, and I can send this to you if it helps.
 

John Matthews

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Hi Martin - a copy of the brief description would be appreciated - David's site quotes 1857, so if its 1856 that could be the reason for the confusion.

John
 

MartyR

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My book is fragile so I don't want to scan it. It's only 150 words so I'll type it all here :whistle:

MORTON, George - Relates to escapements. The scape wheel is locked on the "outer and inner flanches of a hollow cylinder cut nearly half through". Fixed on the cylinder axis is a steel arm pointing towards the balance staff; on the end of this arm are two steel-tempered pins. The locking and unlocking is performed by a ruby, shaped like the tooth of a spur wheel, carried by a roller fixed on the balance axis.When the balance moves in one direction, this ruby enters between the two pins and turns the cylinder a short way round, thereby unlocking the tooth of the scape wheel, another tooth of which then gives the impulse to the impulse pallet on the balance axis; the liberated tooth then falls on the inside flange of the cylinder, and remains there until the return of the balance, when the ruby again enters the pins and unlocks the tooth from the inside flange; the next tooth then drops on the outer flange with a short drop, when the action is repeated.
 

gmorse

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Hi Martin,

Sounds like an unholy mating of a cylinder and a lever escapement! You have to wonder why they went to all the trouble when they already had a very effective mechanism. Does your book include any drawings?

Regards,

Graham
 

Jerry Freedman

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Cutmore's The Pocket Watch Handbook has a paragraph on Morton and a drawing of his escapement. See pages 156 and 157.


Jerry Freedman
 

John Matthews

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Martin - thank you for typing the abstract. I have to admit, I find it difficult to relate it precisely to the watch and the slightly simpler diagrams in Cutmore's book (thank you Jerry for reminding me of it) and the David Penney's illustrations. Cutmore's book also gives the date as 1856 and this is the mistake I made that has probably led to the confusion at the patent office. Tomorrow I will make a third attempt and hopefully, if I am successful, there will be a diagram to go with the abstract that Martin has provided.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,

... I find it difficult to relate it precisely to the watch and the slightly simpler diagrams in Cutmore's book (thank you Jerry for reminding me of it) and the David Penney's illustrations...
Yes, all the drawings of this family of "hybrid" escapements I've ever seen don't include this cylinder arrangement, so it would be very interesting to find an illustration, let alone an actual example of what's described.

Regards,

Graham
 

MartyR

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Sounds like an unholy mating of a cylinder and a lever escapement! You have to wonder why they went to all the trouble when they already had a very effective mechanism. Does your book include any drawings?
Sadly no drawings :( I confess that when I bought the book I wrongly assumed that "abstracts" would include some minimal drawings ... but it's a fascinating little book, even if I struggle to understand its purpose in the day when it was published.
 

DaveyG

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. I was wondering whether anyone might have any further information/sources that would help to direct the PO sales team to the correct patent. I have obtained copies of Massey's patents 3559 (1812) and 3854 (1814), so I assume that as both patent numbers quoted for Morton are lower, that the numbering system system had changed in the intervening period or are there some prefix digits that I'm missing?
The numbering system was refreshed annually John.
 

John Matthews

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The numbering system was refreshed annually John.
Thanks Dave - it eventually dawned on me that was the case, I should have worked it out sooner but I'm not as quick as I used to be! David Penney has also confirmed that I now have the correct number and date. I have sent off to the patent Office for a copy of the patent with the correct details - so watch this space,

John
 

DaveyG

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Yes, all the drawings of this family of "hybrid" escapements I've ever seen don't include this cylinder arrangement, so it would be very interesting to find an illustration, let alone an actual example of what's described.
I may be misunderstanding your comment here Graham, but just in case, take a look at the drawing provided by John in Post #1 this thread, which is a scan of the entry in 'Patent Abridgements - Horology Volume 1, and shows the cylinder arrangement which seems to be designed to work around the chronometer style escape wheel. As I see it, replace the scape with a standard pointed tooth version and you then dispense with the need for the cylinder?
 

gmorse

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Hi Dave,

Thanks for pointing this out, which I had missed. Must pay more attention! Its action is as you describe it and only differs from the conventional pallets in spanning fewer teeth.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Hi Ray - many thanks for posting a link to your Patent Union Chronometer - this, according to David Penney is the last variant in the sequence. Here is a useful summary taken from a description on David's site (I've corrected the date of Morton's original patent):-

"London Patent Chronometer escapement, a development of George Morton's original Patent No 2432, October 1856. As development took place the watches are variously engraved, if at all: Morton's Patent; Mortons Patent Improved; Patent Chronometer; London Patent Chronometer; and finally Patent Union Chronometer, all numbered within the same sequence, the last known number being just over 3000. A second Patent was taken out in 1859. See also Randall The Time Museum Catalogue of Chronometers, items 127 and 128."

I have serial numbers and links to all the variants, now, thanks to your post. Unfortunately I don't have escapement diagrams/photographs for two of the variants, viz the 'Patent Improved' and the 'Patent Chronometer'. The 1859 patent referred to by David I think is a second Morton patent and possibly covers these two variants; the Kelvey and Holland patent, posted by Dave on your Union Chronometer post, is 1863, I believe. I don't have access to the reference David quotes, which may have diagrams.

John
 

DaveyG

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Extracts from the Patent Abridgement - Horology Vol 1 (1855 - 1900). I hope they help.

Firstly folks the 1859 patent mentioned (no drawings) would be:

233. Kelvey C G and Holland W (Jan 25)

Escapements. Comprises an improvement on the invention described in Specification No 2432 AD 1856. Instead of two rollers on the balance staff, one is used, bearing the impulse pallet on its periphery, and the ruby or gold pin on its face.



A scan of the 1863 patent is shown below: 307137.jpg
 

John Matthews

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Dave - many thanks for putting me right concerning the authors of the 1859 patent.

The example I posted has the double roller and is identified as 'Morton's Patent' the first of the variants, so that makes sense. On David's site, there is a description of 'Morton's Patent Improved' which includes "Morton's Patent detached escapement, the steel roller with standard upright unlocking jewel but also with a radial jewel for impulse" - this appears to be describing a single roller. So it would seem reasonable to interpret the addition of 'Improved' relates to the Kelvey & Holland 1859 patent.

David's line diagram of the escapement of a London Patent Chronometer is clearly a single roller. I now believe that 'London Patent Chronometer' and 'Patent Chronometer' were used as alternative descriptions for the same escapement, and this is reflected in David Penney's latest description of a London Patent Chronometer. I don't know if there is any differences between these escapements and the earlier 'improved' patent, but Ray's example clearly illustrates the changes that were made in the final variant.

I haven't found any further reference to the 'cylinder' variant shown in Fig 1 of the original patent.

John
 

John Matthews

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I have now received a copy of Morton's patent and I attach a copy of the diagrams, which are somewhat clearer than those posted previously.

One aspect of the design as presented in the patent, which I had previously missed, is that in the non-cylinder variant shown in figures 4 and 5, the unlocking jewel is above the roller and projects upward, resembling the impulse jewel in an inverted lever. Figure 5 shows the pallets positioned beneath the lever. However, as can be seen from the photographs posted above of this early example, and, indeed, in the photographs of all the other variants I have seen, the jewel is on the underside of the roller. As it is on the Kelvey and Holland London Patent Chronometer I have just received (picture attached) and the pallets are above the lever.

I wonder if Morton was making inverted levers at the time of his initial patent?

John 308351.jpg 308352.jpg
 

gmorse

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Hi John,

The safety action of the example in your photo is very similar to a Massey, except that in this case the equivalent of the passing crescent is a flat cut in the staff itself rather than a part of the roller. In figure 4 of the original patent drawing, the similarity is even stronger.

The pallets have to be placed where they are in this design because the roller carrying the impulse jewel has to be in the same plane as the escape wheel.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Hi Graham - yes, I had forgotten about the similarity with Massey. As soon as I read your comment it struck bells. I checked back to David's archive in a description of another early Morton's Patent (for Lawrence of Wellington #515) -

"Morton's Patent detached escapement, with Massey type-3 roller used for unlocking and safety, mounted next to a steel impulse roller with radial jewel"

I am in the process of cleaning & repairing the London Patent Chronometer - but as you can see from the photograph it is closer to the original patent than that of the K&H patent 2184 the summary of which Dave posted. I post more when I have finished working on it.

John
 

John Matthews

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I now have a working Kelvey and Holland's London Patent Chronometer #1892. The principle problem was that the intact chain had become trapped between the barrel and the plate. I believe that this was because an undersize barrel, fitting a barrel of slightly greater thickness has resolved the problem. I still have to find and fit an index (regulator) and in the dial up position the one of the compensation balance screws is just catching the cock.
The movement is based upon an a raw movement signed by Henry Fletcher (HF) - the same as Ray's Patent Union Chronometer.

In that discussion Dave Green added this comment:
I would guess that the escapement would be made and fitted by Kelvey & Holland and they may well have finished the watch but I suspect that the raw movement started life in Prescot …
Just looking at the Liverpool Museum db, it first shows William Holland, watchmaker in Birkenhead (a stones throw from Rock Ferry) in 1859. William Holland & Sons appear in Birkenhead and Rock Ferry as opticians and mathematical instrument makers from 1912 up until 1968. Henry Fletcher first appears as a watchmaker in Prescot in 1841, thereafter every census year as a watch movement maker, actually in Eccleston, up until 1881.

I suspect Dave's comment may be equally true for this London Patent Chronometer.

As I mentioned previously, and as the photographs illustrate, this movement more closely resembles the original Morton Patent rather than that described in the abstract of the Kelvey and Holland patent of 1863. However, unlike the early example of the original post, it has a single roller and as such it follows the Kelvey and Holland patent 233 (25/01/1859) as identified and described by Dave in post 19 above. This would mean the movement is likely to have been made between 1859 and early 1863.

John 308411.jpg 308412.jpg 308413.jpg 308418.jpg 308415.jpg 308416.jpg 308417.jpg 308414.jpg 308419.jpg
 
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gmorse

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Hi John,

This is also a nice example of an English balance wheel with holes in the crossings where they attach to the rim. There was some discussion a while ago about this being an exclusively Swiss feature.

Regards,

Graham
 

Omexa

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Hi, I wonder if your "Kelvey and Holland's London Patent Chronometer #1892." movement is by a later Partnership of William Holland? Do you know where Kelvey and Holland's Shop was? By the way I have been wanting to Case this movement for years; I just can't find a Case that is large enough? Regards Ray 308448.jpg
 

John Matthews

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Graham - Are the holes in the crossings purely decorative?

Sorry Ray but I am not absolutely certain what you mean by later. I believe the movement was produced in a very short time period ~1860, which significantly pre-dates the William Holland & Sons mentioned by Dave - however, see below..

In Loomes, there are two references to a C G Kelvey. One, listed with an alternative spelling of Kelver; was located in Birkenhead between 1857 and 1865, covering the period of the two patents with Holland. The second entry is definitively for Charles Grant Kelvey, however, he is listed as succeeding Robert Kelvey in the 1790s working in Market Place, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, on the opposite side of the country. In 1811, he moved next door to the post office where he recorded up to 1850. Loomes has the comment 'also silversmith & jeweller' so I take this to mean he was probably the postman. There is no record of his activities after1850 in Gainsborough - but could he then have moved to Birkenhead and established his working relationship with Holland?

I cannot recall any reference to Kelvey and Holland having a formal partnership with common working premises. David Penney has indicated that relatively few examples are known signed by both patentees and I therefore assumed there was only an informal partnership linked by their two patents. David does state that the patentees were William Holland & Sons with Charles Kelvey. This is interesting: it may strengthens the case that the two references in Loomes are the same person and Kelvey did originate from Lincolnshire. Secondly, it would imply that Holland & Sons was established earlier than 1912, quoted by Dave and the 1910 in Loomes. However, in Kelly's 1880 Directory of the Watch & Clock Trades, William Holland is listed as a watch manufacturer at 434 New Chester Road, Rock Ferry, Birkenhead. No mention of '&Sons' so perhaps David has misquoted the patentee.

Copies of the original patents might shed some light …

Ray, do have you a date for the movement you posted, given the possible significance that Birkenhead and Rock Ferry are in engraved in different styles - the Kew entry possibly, which would give you who made the submission, the address and a brief description of the original watch?

John
 
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Omexa

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Hi John, "Later" slipped into the query somehow it was not what I intended. What I meant is was there a connection between Kelvey and Holland's and William Holland.
Ray, do have you a date for the movement you posted, given the possible significance that Birkenhead and Rock Ferry are in engraved in different styles - the Kew entry possibly, which would give you who made the submission, the address and a brief description of the original watch?
I will see if I can find it. https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?97377- Large-Kew-A-Certificate-Freesprung-English-lever-Pocket-Watch-Movement &highlight=rock+ferry Regards Ray
 
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gmorse

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Hi John,

...Are the holes in the crossings purely decorative?...
Yes, I think they are, I can't see any technical reason for them.

There's a very long-established jeweller and luxury goods retailer in Delhi called Cooke & Kelvey; I don't know if there's any connection.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Hi Ray - are you sure these records go with this movement? The movement number is 3670 and the record card (3.png) references watch number 7543 - am I missing something?

John
 

Omexa

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am I missing something?
Hi John, I got this data from my other Kew A movement. I will have to keep looking for the William Holland Kew A results. Sorry about the mix-up. I had forgotten that I had 2 of them. The results for the William Holland were destroyed in a computer by a lightning strike. I will have to contact Commander Peter Linstead Smith to see if he would be kind enough to find them for me? Can someone please give me the contact details for Commander Peter Linstead Smith? Regards Ray 1C2OH0UT5.jpg
 
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John Matthews

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Ray - You can get the Kew records by sending the watch details to RMGenquiries@rmg.co.uk (Royal Museums Greenwich) and they pass it on to a researcher to retrieve from the archives.
John
 

John Matthews

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I have been able to produce the attached table using the data from the Liverpool Museum Horology database. I think it is safe to infer that Holland and Kelvey never shared the same premises, but co-existed in close proximity in Rock Ferry/Tranmere to the south of Birkenhead centre. The entries clearly indicate that Kelvey had separate work and home premises, together with one retail outlet. Well Lane is recorded as the home address for Holland in 1861, but the status of his other addresses for this period is not clear. Throughout the period Kelvey is recorded as a watch and chronometer maker, Holland as a watch maker.

John 308787.jpg
 

John Matthews

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Further research has confirmed that C G Kelvey. born 1806 to Charles Kelvey and Ann Kelvey (née Clarke) in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire and is recorded as a watchmaker in that town from a very early age He married Mary Ann Farmer in 1842. The last known trade directory listing at Market Place, Gainsborough was in 1855. The 1861 census shows that the family had split up with Mary and their daughter remaining in Gainsborough, living with Mary's brother. Charles died on April 7, 1870 in Rock Ferry and in his will, he bequeathed to his wife, Mary Ann, all his personal effects and the interest and profits of his share of the patent 'Union Chronometer'.

I have discovered that William Holland was also born in Gainsborough in 1835, as was his wife, Eliza. The earliest record of their move to Birkenhead is as shown above in the table. There are a raft of trade directory reference at various address in the Birkenhead area extending into the early C20th, with the first reference to William Holland and Sons Ltd in the 1906 Kelly's directory of Cheshire.

It would appear that both Kelvey and Holland moved to the Birkenhead area at about the same time to pursue their profession.

Apparently there is an article on the in the Horological Journal of 1867 - that's all I have, does anyone have any more information, access to early indicies, a copy of the paper?

John
 
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John Matthews

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Hi John, it is good that you are doing my research for me on William Holland; thanks. Regards Ray
No problem - you might also be interested in one of Kelvey's relatives -

Charles Pearson was his nephew, son of his sister Rebecca Kelvey. Charles Pearson went on to have a watchmaking Jewellery business at 54 High St Gainsborough in 1851, before moving to Australia in 1852.

John
 

Omexa

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Hi John, I just received the results from Kew. Dear Mr Paige,



Thank you for your enquiry which has been passed to me for attention. I have located the watch Holland 3670 in the Kew register.



We find it received for test on September 15, 1892 and allocated Kew Register Number 4589.



I attach images of the register page and abstract of results page.



Image IMG_9711a is the register page which shows the watch entered for class A with rating commenced on September 17, 1892, ended on October 31, and awarded class A. The watch is shown 'sent by' Holland, Rockferry (the maker), with 'Maker's Name' T R Russell, Church St., Liverpool (the agent or retailer).



Image IMG_9712a is the abstract of results with the test results entered on November 2, 1892. The results recorded were -



Mean daily rate (secs)

Pendant up +0.8

Right +0.6

Left +1.3

Dial up -1.3

Down +1.6



Var 0.7

Temp 0.14



Extremes of daily rate 9.0



Certificate awarded A



Marks assigned for

Variation 25.4

Position 37.0

Temperature 10.7

Total 73.1





I hope you find this information helpful. There is no charge for this service but the search and photography took significant time and we would be pleased if you chose to make a small donation to help the work. You can donate on-line at

http://www.rmg.co.uk/join-support/donate



Regards,



Mike Dryland

Voluntary Curatorial Assistant

Horology Department

Royal Observatory, Greenwich


Regards Ray 311371.jpg 311373.jpg
 
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gmorse

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Hi Ray,

...The watch is shown 'sent by' Holland, Rockferry (the maker), with 'Maker's Name' T R Russell, Church St., Liverpool (the agent or retailer)...
Surely this is the wrong way round, with Holland being the retailer and Russell the actual maker, as implied in the ledger headings?

Regards,

Graham
 

Omexa

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Hi Graham, probably
Surely this is the wrong way round, with Holland being the retailer and Russell the actual maker, as implied in the ledger headings?
I have a Thomas Russell Dial. Maybe not there is not a " to show Follows on under the entry? Regards Ray
 

John Matthews

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Graham/Ray

Here are the entries in Kelley's 1880 directory

Russell T. R. Cathedral works, 18 Church st. |
Liverpool ; & 33 Piccadilly, London
Established 1797. By special appointment,
makers to Her Majesty the Queen & H.R.H.
Prince Alfred. Speciality for English keyless
watches

and

Holland William, 434 New Chester rd. Rock
Ferry, Birkenhead

They are both listed as watch manufacturers. There is also an advert for Russell which I attach.

I think on balance Holland may well have been the maker and Russell as the wholesaler submitted it to Kew along with the two watches above the Holland entry, the first of which was of their manufacture. I have seen other Kew records where I believe the entries regarding sender and maker have been transposed.

John 311378.jpg
 

gmorse

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Hi Ray,

Yes, I see what you mean. There are no dittos under the Russell entry against the Holland one, so perhaps that implies that Holland was also the maker, and it was nothing to do with Russell. On the other hand it may just be due to the recording clerk being lazy!

Regards,

Graham
 

Omexa

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Hi Graham, it really is a fantastic movement; I have the Stem and some other bits but I can't find a big enough Case. The original Case was Gold. Regards Ray
 

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