Early Single Table Roller Escapements

Allan C. Purcell

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I love this thread, I have spent parts of the last two days reading through it. There's humour, Drama, pathos, and I am waiting for the blood on the carpet. Just to keep you people awake take a look at the watch above The signature has I.Iohnsone Liverpool in capital letters. So what you might ask? The capital (I) in those days (Many will know) was used as a J. What we have here is J.Johnstone Liverpool. In Loomes 21st.Century page 427 "Johnstone James Liverpool (Lancs) 1789. Nothing else.He is the only Johnstone working in Liverpool at this date. The above watch is hallmarked for London 1835/36. So was James Johnstone stlll alive in 1835. I would say no. Why? The case is hallmarked in London, why not Chester, if you look at Slow-Fast scale there are no liverpool arrows, this would indicate a Coventry made watch. The balnce wheel though is the important piece, this type of balance wheel seems to turn up after the single table roller started to take over the field after the long run of the Massey escapement. So an estimate after 1825, though I feel later. Having said that the above has a Single Table Roller, but with a Massey Five Roller. Does this have anything to do with this thread? I think it does,in that it shows how the watch trade in the UK was moving.
It would be nice to know what you think.
Thank you for the fun,
Allan.

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Lychnobius

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Re: Josh Johnson

I can see no reason why Allan's watch should not be precisely what it professes to be: a respectable and well-finished, albeit only seven-jewel, early lever movement largely typical of the Liverpool industry. The large regulator-scale and the domed cock-screw both look a little archaic for 1835, but it is always possible that the movement was not perfectly new when it was cased. The bimetallic balance, uncut and without adjustment screws, is a type found principally on movements made for export to North America. The Massey V escapement is uncommon. There is no connection with Joseph Johnson or his successors.

For some thoughts on the significance or lack of significance of 'Coventry' features, see this recent thread: https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?135549-The-Coventry-Star-an-infallible-clue-or-another-myth

Oliver Mundy.
 

MartyR

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Re: Josh Johnson

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The above watch is hallmarked for London 1835/36. So was James Johnstone stlll alive in 1835. I would say no. Why? The case is hallmarked in London, why not Chester, if you look at Slow-Fast scale there are no liverpool arrows, this would indicate a Coventry made watch.
The hallmark date is for 1832/3, the casemaker is Thomas Greves of Clerkenwell, the mark registerered in 1829.

There are many reasons why a Liverpool maker might use a London casemaker - quality, availabilty and cost are just some of those. I agree that the movement doesn't have the usual Liverpool characteristics, but none of those are absolutes. The regulator scale also lacks a Coventry star, so there is no reason to believe that it was made in Coventry any more than that it was made in Liverpool.

My source acknowledgess the Loomes entry with a date of 1789, and also has a "sighting" of a watch by Johnstone, serial number 8655, hallmark dated to 1818. What is the serial number of your watch? It is also noted that Johnstone does not appear in the 1824 edition of the Liverpool Trade Directory.

Allan, what do you mean by a "Massey Five Roller"? I'm intrigued.
 

gmorse

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Re: Josh Johnson

Hi Martin,

...Allan, what do you mean by a "Massey Five Roller"? I'm intrigued.
A Massey type V as defined by Alan Treherne; a small roller table with the impulse jewel planted in it, and the safety roller just behind it.

Regards,

Graham
 

MartyR

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Re: Josh Johnson

Hi Martin,

A Massey type V as defined by Alan Treherne; a small roller table with the impulse jewel planted in it, and the safety roller just behind it.

Regards,

Graham
Oh, I must have been misunderstanding what Allan was saying ... I thought he was differentiating between a "Massey 5 escapement" and a "Massey 5 roller" :%

That makes the watch pretty rare, then :coolsign:
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Re: Josh Johnson

First, thanks to Oliver,MartyR, and Graham. Its nice to know there is so much interest in these old watches. Llike a million others have tried to find out who made the first SINGLE TABLE ROLLER. Over the last thirty years or so I have managed to get hold of only six made before 1830, that are still in their oringinal cases. The remark by David Glasgow in his book "Watch and Clockmaking " 1885 " quote These difficulties brought about various modifications until the introduction, by another Liverpool man, of what is now called the table roller. You would think he could have given us the name, he was then on frendly terms with Robert Roskell Jr. Its here we come to names like Jos.Johnson, Roskell, Moncas, Blundell, the Hornby's, or many others working in Liverpool before 1820. Its a dead end folks-Robert Kemp went down this road too, and he found for each Liverpool watch with a STR there was one from London. I too have found this to be true. From my thoughts on this I have come to the conclusion the STR was made by one man who had good contacts with both the Liverpool and London trade. Anthony G. Randall and Richard Good in their book "Watches" in the BM Vol.IV. say they think the STR was a further developement of the Massey escapement-I agree, and why not Massey himself-there are good reasions to believe this is possable. Massey was short of money c1820-22 and sold his watch patents to Roskell, it could be Massey could not afford to patent Massey six:???: I will write more later, I have to go and pick blackberries with the wife-till later,

Allan.
 
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Lychnobius

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Re: Josh Johnson

The distinguished dealer and horologist David Penney attributes the single table roller escapement to the Hornbys, specialist escapement-makers of Liverpool (whom Allan has mentioned), with a date of 1819-20. However, there is a Parkinson & Frodsham watch, datable by its serial number to 1816, which shows almost all the features of the later 'English lever', differing only in that it has two rollers (impulse-pins) rather than one; an inscription on the cock suggests that there was some special innovation in this movement, and this can only have been the escapement. For details, see https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?127583-Early-Parkinson-Frodsham-Cylinder-movement/page2, especially the very last posting (a summary by MartyR of Graham's investigation).

Somebody should draw up a timeline of the development of the detached-lever escapement from 1758, when Thomas Mudge built the first example, to its standardisation (side-lever in Britain and the U.S.A., straight-line 'anchor' in Switzerland) in the second half of the nineteenth century. I may have a go myself. Obviously it will need a thread of its own.

Oliver Mundy.
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Re: Josh Johnson

It would appear I have hit a saw point, Oliver if you want to write a book on the Lever escapement I will support you till my last breath. You do know of course there have been some very good efforts Randall and Good just to start the list. Chamberlain, Gazely, Sabrier, Camerer Cuss, father and Son, Clutton and Daniels,Abler, Hans von Bertele. I will stop here a it would take a week to complete the list of those who have tried. I have read them all and on on the question of who made the STR, they skip over it, or don't know, or they write from A to Z and not mention it. Remember Clutton and Daniels book "Watches" They too claimed Richard Hornby could have been the first to make the STR. The owners of that watch say its a Massey. I wrote to George Daniels about it and he agreed it could have been a Massey. (I still have his letter) I am always a bit dubious of claims for the STR before 1823. There were of course other attempts to make lever watches at this time, Samual Smith of Coventry 1818 there two in the BM.

( Going back a bit the number on the Johnstone watch for MartyR 9023 see pic one above-sorry marty at my age you forget things quick)

I think I will now go away and photograph my STR's before 1830 and you can have a look at them.

One last point Oliver could I sujest the Lever Escapement 1800-1850.

Thanks again to all,

Till later,
Allan.
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Re: Josh Johnson

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Quick reply. No name watch London hallmark 1826. Number 1968. Take a look at the banking pin Rare styl. STR. Got to go.Do the rest tomorrow.
Allan.

Allan.
 

gmorse

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Re: Josh Johnson

Hi Allan,

I have seen some Savage escapements with this forked lever tail arrangement, and a few others with a hole in the lever tail banking on a single pin, (in fact I have one like the latter dated 1832 on the bench for an overhaul now). In these early stages of the evolution of the lever, it seems that all sorts of variations were tried, although this can't have been in order to avoid patent infringement, since although frequently marked as such, neither the single table nor the Savage were ever patented.

Looking forward to some more interesting watches!

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Re: Josh Johnson

Hi Graham,
I agree with all you said above. I think it went around by word of mouth, and like I said from someone you had good conections in both London and Liverpool.
This one is by James Watson London 2954 Hallmarked London 1822/23. This is the earliest of the ones I have. I always look for these wide band watch cases,
your never disapointed there is likely a cylinder, a Duplex, or a Lever, and if you are lucky a Savage two. The only Savage I have is a Barwise but the son c1832.
Just to makle things even the next one is a cracker from Liverpool.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Re: Josh Johnson

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You will notice I like the case on this one. You get the feeling you just bought out of Ferrier's shop. Ferrier was a jeweller and goldsmith, and must have ordered this watch from liverpool for a good customer. The customer was a Mr. Durry a Hull businessman involved in local politics. Another thing I look for in Liverpool watches the pie crust edge to the cock, always a sign of early Liverpool pieces. The case is by John Helsbey & Co. That says it all about cases. This watch though looks and feels like it was put away and forgotten foe 180 years. In June this year I was at the BM and Paul Buck gave us a talk on watches from first to 1880's great fun,
One thing he said made me think-he had a watch in his hands then snaped it shut, then said to us I think the maker heard that same sound. So when I snap this watch watch shut I think that too. (I live in Germany by the way, anf took a group of DGC members over for a week, we were lucky enough to be able to visit BIG BEN and stand in the bell tower as it struck 12. ) So all for today, will post more if you like tomorrow.

Allan.

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gmorse

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Re: Josh Johnson

Hi Allan,

I do like that case! Is this an English lever or a Massey? Do you believe that seconds hand to be original? Have you looked under the dial for any frame maker's mark?

Regards,

Graham
 

MartyR

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Re: Josh Johnson

Gentlemen, before it becomes too complicated to do so, may I suggest that I split off this current discussion of the evolution of the English lever away from the Johnson thread? It warrants a thread of its own, and of course the proponents of the Johnson thread are probably getting peeved at their thread being hijacked :whistle:
 

novicetimekeeper

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Re: Josh Johnson

Gentlemen, before it becomes too complicated to do so, may I suggest that I split off this current discussion of the evolution of the English lever away from the Johnson thread? It warrants a thread of its own, and of course the proponents of the Johnson thread are probably getting peeved at their thread being hijacked :whistle:

I think that's a great idea, especially as one of my watches has been mentioned by Graham. Makes me feel like I actually have something in my tiny collection worthy of comment!
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Sorry I started this with a mistake the photograph below is from another watch. To answer your questions Graham it is a single table roller, I do not look under the dials of my watches. I am a collector who collects clocks and have a few watches. Plus with my thick fingers I would be afraid of doing the watch some damage. I do though know a STR from a Massey. Talking about oppinions have you got a copy of "YOUT TIME" it is a northern section booklet, in there on page 47 is a STR by Richard Hornby, I would like your oppinion on it. They say its 1818.

I hope those you taken interest so far will find this new thread and join in.

Best to all,
Allan.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Graham,
I have just noticed why you asked about the hands above. It has a bull's eye glass, and some how this distorted the hour hand. They are in fact plane gold spade hands.

Allan.
 
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gmorse

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Hi Allan,

I was wondering specifically about the seconds hand, since it doesn't have the gold collet. I know how these bullseye crystals can distort!

I do have the relevant part of "Your Time" as a pdf, but I wouldn't care to venture any detailed opinions based solely on a single picture of the top plate; it certainly looks plausible for 1818. Without the watch dismantled in hand, it's pure guesswork, although Alan Treherne is very knowledgeable about the Lancashire trade. It can be difficult to say whether a watch is a conversion, in the light of the practice of the frame makers of planting the train with oversized pivots, the holes for which were then plugged and properly depthed after the arbors were finally pivoted during finishing. Signs of these large plugs can cause confusion!

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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HI Graham,
Thanks for that, one of the reasions I mentioned it was the AHS are now selling that book for two Pounds-to good to be true-so I bought two. Another Peace of good News while going through my pocket watches I noticed I had put my John Muncas to one side and had forgotten it too was early. So I took a look and it is Chester 1828. I will now take photographs and have them on the thread in the next half hour.

Allan.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Graham,
Hope you like this one. Chester 1826.
The next one I will wait a bit-very nice London STR by DUMPER. You will find it in Loomes but the info is from this watch. It seems to be a one off. Till later,
Allan.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Graham,

This is the last of my STR's before 1830. DUMPER of LONDON it's the only watch I have seen by this watchmaker-that is if he was a watchmaker. I can find nothing in directories for him. or in any of the many books on horology. There is just the one entry in Loomes, but has I said it came from this watch. All I can say is it is very well made with thick plates like a pocket chronometer. Still keeps time to a few seconds per day, and that in my waistcoat pocket.

I hope now few members will post early cased STR watches. Please only ones that they are sure of in their mind, are all original. Many of this type of watch were exported to America, so the chance's are greater of finding them.

Best wishes to all,

Allan.

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gmorse

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Hi Allan,

...I hope now few members will post early cased STR watches. Please only ones that they are sure of in their mind, are all original. Many of this type of watch were exported to America, so the chance's are greater of finding them...
Thanks for posting these. The drawback to looking for American examples is the difficulty of accurate dating if, as was often the way, the bare movements were exported from the UK and cased locally on arrival. I believe that there are more examples out there dating from much closer to 1820 or even possibly before.

Regards,

Graham
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Graham,
I do hope you are right, I would love to see a genuine STR before 1820, I am always suspisious of watches claiming to be STR before 1820. People who claime this never explain why the makers they name were still making and using Massey ecscapements into the eighteen 30's. Massey one and Massey two are still very rare for 1818, watches with Massey before that you can count on one hand. Richard Hornby was still experimenting with the Lever in the eighteen forties,ie: the so called Hornby escapement. I have watches by RH from 1821 but they are Massey three, and I find that early, but never a STR. at that time. Maybe it was the other Liverpool Richard Hornby?

Regards,

Allan.
 
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gmorse

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Hi Allan,

The problem of identifying conversions versus original fitments is a knotty one; as I mentioned in an earlier post:

...It can be difficult to say whether a watch is a conversion, in the light of the practice of the frame makers of planting the train with oversized pivots, the holes for which were then plugged and properly depthed after the arbors were finally pivoted during finishing. Signs of these large plugs can cause confusion!...
In the absence of extra plugged holes or unnecessary cut-outs, the verdict can sometimes simply come down to whether the top plate has been re-gilt after a possible re-configuring, and significantly, the date when such work might have been done.

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Graham,
Again I agree, And I think you know more about the isides of a watch than me. No, I know you know more. Though there is more than one way to skin a cat has they say. I dont usually buy movements but saw the attached on Ebay. James Mann Norwich. Loomes says he died in 1822. Now nothing to say about Jas. Mann he was probably a good watchmaker tought by his father, but I feel he bought this one in from London. It was probably in a gold case, the dial too as it is also missing. My thoughts were I had a STR c1822 or maybe a little earlier?? 2016-08-09 15.51.09.jpg 2016-08-09 15.51.01.jpg 2016-08-09 15.51.24.jpg 2016-08-09 15.51.58.jpg 2016-08-09 15.52.33.jpg 2016-08-09 15.52.41.jpg 2016-08-09 15.53.05.jpg 2016-08-09 15.54.15.jpg
Thanks again,
Allan.
 

gmorse

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Hi Allan,

A good quality movement, with endstones on the escape. Wherever it was actually made, it certainly wasn't Norwich; it's a pity that there's no clear frame maker's mark, just the size. However, could that mark to the left of the size possibly be part of an "M"?

Regards,

Graham
 

Omexa

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Re: Josh Johnson

Hi Graham, how about a photo of what exactly an "Early Single Table Roller Escapement" is? There seem to be a lot of variations about the time period in discussion? Regards Ray
 

gmorse

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Hi Ray,

The rollers look pretty much the same as any table roller, the variations are mostly in the banking, the shape of the impulse jewel, (more rarely the double pins like Marty's P&F), or the profile of the passing crescent or flat. The important part is establishing firm dates for the earliest appearance of these things.

Regards,

Graham
 

Omexa

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Re: Josh Johnson

Hi, I am starting to think that my "Desbois and Wheeler"movement was originally built as a "Freesprung Table Roller" movement using a Frame that had the Boseley Regulator Scale on it. I can find no signs of it ever being converted. The Dust Cap has a small gap near the Balance Cock. I am not going to dismantle it to look at the Table Roller because it runs so nicely, I will leave it as it is. Regards Ray 1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg
 
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Dr. Jon

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Re: Josh Johnson

I am fairly certain this is a later balance:
1) It has "wings
2) It has platinum meantime screws, A Bosley regulated balance is over its balance spring.
3) The balance arms are down

A lot of these were done in the 180's to 1910 to replace solid balances. The holes between the balance and old scale may have held the balance spring stud which was fixed to a separate part. the balance cock was likely filed down to accommodate the very nice new spring stud which features a fine beat adjuster which is much later than the rest of the watch.

This was not foul play, but rather an effort to extend the life of a fine old timepiece. It is a legitimate part of its history,
 
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Omexa

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Hi Dr. Jon, the "The holes between the balance and old scale may have held the balance spring stud" these are where the Banking Pins are. There are no spare Holes. Regards Ray 1 - Copy.jpg 3 - Copy.jpg
 

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I have been trying to follow this discussion, but I am confused. I think I know what a single roller and double roller escapement are. I have always thought that a table roller was a single roller with a flat disk for the roller but it sounds like something else. The term "single table roller" implies to me that there might be a "double table roller" also. Is there an illustration by David Penney or some other drawing that shows what this is?
 

Omexa

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Hi Tom, I am glad that I am not the only person who is confused. From Tom: "Is there an illustration by David Penney or some other drawing that shows what this is?" Regards Ray
 

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Thanks for the correction. My error on the holes does not change the balance and stud being later. From the other photos I see that the balance stud is fixed under the balance cock and I should have observed that before. Most lever watches of that era had the stud mounted on a separate part from tehbalance cock, another sign of likely conversion, i.e the spring is mounted directly to the balance cock.

My understanding of the terminology is that a table roller is a single roller and the term specifies a particular English single roller in which the roller table is large and flat like a table. I have no encountered the term "Single table roller" before this.
 

Omexa

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5.jpg Hi Dr. Jon, "My error on the holes does not change the balance and stud being later." I agree with you that the Balance and Stud are later. I have never seen this Stud arrangement before. The Cut out for the Stud is Gilded. Regards Ray
 
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Jerry Treiman

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I have shown this watch before, but it seems relevant here. It is apparently a Liverpool movement (based on style and finish), although it is marked for an American retailer. It has a simple single table roller. The original case bears a Chester hallmark for 1830.

View attachment 312167 View attachment 312168 View attachment 312169
 

gmorse

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Hi Ray,

Is there any sign that the cutout in the balance cock table was made after it was gilt?

I agree that the balance does look rather too small for the rest of the top plate arrangement, but if it was originally undersprung the position of the stud will be hidden underneath the balance, and the aperture in the plate will be circular to accept the Bosley regulator. Can you post a picture of the cap, please?

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi Ray,

This is what we're all talking about. It's the balance from Oliver's Leroux, which was converted to a lever some time later, in the 19th century.

DSCF3441.jpg

The impulse jewel in this one is cylindrical, which was fairly common, together with elliptical and triangular ones, before the "D" shape was finally settled on as the best shape.

Regards,

Graham
 

Jerry Treiman

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Another possible early STR movement I have is signed "Rob't Roskell -- No.6571 -- London". It is a full-plate movement. ... unfortunately no case.
I can post pictures tomorrow if it sounds interesting.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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DPEarlySTRFlatPassing.jpg
This diagram by Davied Penney demonstrates and early STR with passing flat, and has G. says could also have a cresent shape. Notice too the rounded end of the lever fork. The DUMPER above has these rounded ends too. There are in this period from 1818 to 1840 many variations, though a quick look between the plates will tell it is an STR, and you would not notice the variations. Its sad to say none of these escapements were patented. You will find this style above by other makers. Ask Davied Penney or look at his archive on the net.
Thanks to you all for taking an interest. Oh and please post the Roskell it sounds interesting.
Allan.
 

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gmorse

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Hi Allan,

A practical problem with this escapement is that, when undersprung, the roller has to be removed to do anything with the hairspring, which is probably a factor in the move to oversprung.

Regards,

Graham
 

Omexa

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Re: Josh Johnson

Hi Graham, "Is there any sign that the cutout in the balance cock table was made after it was gilt?" No the cutout is gilded and there is no sign that I can see that it was made after Gilding. I will have a proper look at it tomorrow. Regards Ray
 

gmorse

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Re: Josh Johnson

Hi Ray,

This was just a thought, although of course there was nothing to stop components being sent to the gilder after being modified for any reason.

Regards,

Graham
 

Tom McIntyre

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What has been and still confuses me a bit is the "single" in the single table roller. I have always called it either a single roller to denote the later variants or a table roller to denote the early variants. i.e. not all single rollers are table rollers, but all table rollers are single rollers. The development of the passing crescent and the use or non-use of draw seem to be the principal changes over time. The decoration of the lever itself had never seemed particularly important to me, but it does have a large number of shape variations. I would have a hard time imagining the supporting language for a patent filing on any of those. :)
 

Dr. Jon

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Re: Josh Johnson

One other argument suggesting conversion is that a free sprung watch almost always has an overcoil and the recent photo shows a flat spring. It is flat because the configuration does not have space for the overcoil.
 

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