Frame makers, movement makers and finishers in C19th England

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by John Matthews, Sep 25, 2019.

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  1. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    For some time I have been trying to relate the initials found on movement parts, to the names that appear in trade directories and other reference material. In parallel, I have added a number of what David Penney always describes as 'rough movements' to my collection. I dislike David's term, I much prefer to refer to them as 'unfinished movements'. All of my examples have maker's initials.

    If we examine how those involved in the watch trade were listed in trade directories of the period in locations such as Prescot, we find that there are a small number of frame makers, a larger number of watch movement makers, together with a range of specialists making specific components – see the entries from Slater's 1855 Lancashire directory.

    upload_2019-9-25_15-52-48.png

    Many of the movement makers are familiar to us, but the frame makers are not. Well, not to me at least. When initials have been attributed to specific makers, e.g. David Penney's site and various papers on the subject, those makers are invariably listed as movement makers in the contemporary trade directories. In the absence of provenance, which is only very rarely available, attempting to ascribe a maker's name to such initials is a very brave undertaking and any identification has to be presented with a strong health warning! Take for example a movement stamped JP in its original 1855/56 hallmarked case - just from those that appear in the Prescot listing, there are at least 4 possibilities.

    Some of those listed as movement makers, also made frames, John Wycherley is one example, This is also confirmed explicitly as some makers appeared in both lists, e.g. Job Preston. It is possible that only a few of those makers who only made frames, i.e. didn't continue to add the movement elements to the frame, stamped their frames. This brings us to the question. what were the incentives to add the initials? Clearly, it could simply be to allow work of a specific maker to be identified – advertising the quality of one's product; this could be relevant to any 'maker'. However, I think we can identify an additional reason that applied to movement makers and to some finishers. When a movement was 'put out', to a specialist worker to perform a specific task, maker's marks would have assisted identification, particularly if accompanied by a serial number. This would not apply to a frame maker as he would have 'brought in' any items he needed, e.g. pillars.

    I attach a file containing descriptions and photographs of the unfinished movements in my collection, presented in order of increasing completeness. You will note that there is some repetition of comments, there for the completeness of each individual description. There are also questions, to myself, but please feel free to answer if you are so motivated.

    [​IMG]

    John
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Lychnobius

    Lychnobius Registered User

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    Thank you, John, for putting this together and for including images, without which the signatures would be even more ambiguous. I suspect it will be the nucleus of a database that could grow and grow!

    Oliver Mundy.
     
  3. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi John, Thought these would be of interest, you may have seen them on the auction house, but just in case?? Allan.

    e-10.jpg e-11.jpg e-12.jpg
     
  4. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Thanks Allan - I had not seen this example.

    H.D is identified as probably being Henry Dyson by Kemp. His dates are ~1840 to ~1870 - which fits with Owen Owens. I haven't spent any time researching Dyson. He is listed as a watch maker (1841/51) and subsequently a fusee maker (1861/71), on the Liverpool database, based upon census returns.

    John
     
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  5. davy26

    davy26 Registered User

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    Very interesting area of interest and post, John. I have a database of Coventry makers and this does incorporate the category, 'Frame Maker.' The Coventry Watch Museum maintains both a website and Facebook presence, and both are good sources of data.

    With its rich photo content the The Max Cutmore Collection of Watches (pdf courtesy of Leigh Extence) is also helpful when looking for Frame Maker names/marks. I'm sure most here will be familiar with it, but if you don't already have it downloaded, I'd mention that it's recently been relocated and can now be found at https://www.extence.co.uk/exhibition-catalogues
     
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  6. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Many thanks for the new location - you are absolutely correct a most useful resource as free download. Pages 5 & 7 are of particular interest to me as it relates to my research into James Powell of Worcester.

    John
     
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  7. Niall

    Niall Registered User

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    John - many thanks for the info in your post and for your frame maker list which you posted on a separate thread.

    Allan - hope it is ok to say this here, but it was actually me who sold you the Owens movement! I am very new to the hobby and am learning more and more every day, but each time I sell something I do try to learn as much as I can from it within my means (usually just visual inspection - I do not take anything apart) and I have found the initials under the movements quite fascinating.

    JW is the most common I have come across, but I have seen many many more.

    If I come across initials under dials that are not referenced in either of your files, John, would you like me to post some images of the movement? If so, where would you like me to put them?!
    I was almost thinking of creating some sort of thread such as "Frame Makers Initials I have discovered" where I post these movements. Let me know your thoughts as I am keen to assist in research and documentation of history regarding English pocket watches.
     
  8. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Niall - thank-you for your interest and comments.

    If posts illustrate initials or marks on movements I will always make an attempt to assign a possible 'maker'. To do so is a little like trying to assign a name to a case maker, but with much less accessible reference material. There are a few papers, a vast array of directories and sources like the Liverpool Museum database - but the information is very dispersed, there is no equivalent to the Priestley publications. One of the keys to drawing up a list of possibilities, is to have a good handle on the date of movement and its provenance. This will narrow down where to look. It makes it easier if there are a comprehensive set of photographs of the movement and the case, as well as a clear photograph of the mark showing where it has been made.

    So I would encourage anyone who finds a mark on a movement to post a photograph of the mark as part of set of photographs of the complete watch. Generally, the mark will be just one aspect of the watch and as such is probably best discussed as such in a thread about the specific watch - in the same way that the thread might include a discussion about the case maker. It is essential to be able to identify the watch/movement where the mark was found.

    John
     
  9. Niall

    Niall Registered User

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    Hi John,

    99% of what I am encountering is nearly always just a loose movement, no case, obviously ripped out of its case many years ago and stored away and undiscovered for goodness knows how long!

    I plan on sharing photographs of any movements that show initials or anything unusual such as patents under the dial, I will endeavour to take good pictures of the escapement and other side of the movement too. I have already found and set aside some for this process and my plan is to identify and post as many unique frame maker initial pieces as possible.

    Niall
     
  10. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    I have recently added further to my collection of unfinished movements ...

    200 - England 1880~ E.S [Edward SCARISBRICK], Prescot, and F B ADAMS, London unfinished movement #79085

    David Penney

    Rare partially finished rough movement complete with dial, circa 1880.

    Full plate fusee movement ready to be 'scaped and finished, the hollow-back pillar plate stamped E.S and with its Liverpool size 16 x 0 and also bearing what I believe to be Adams serial number 79085. Complete with its balance cock and partially jewelled, but no train or barrel-bar. Fitted with its 3-footed enamel dial signed for F B ADAMS & SONS which remains in perfect condition. Movement 44.5 mm diameter.

    Edward Scarisbrick, Prescot, one of the better known rough movement manufacturers, for which this part of Lancashire was justly famous.

    Francis Bryant Adams, from a well known family of watchmakers, and one time partner with George Moore. Based at the heart of Clerkenwell, London’s watchmaking centre, with a deserved reputation for his export of fine watches to America. The number on the frame indicates that this is a very late production and is probably from the unfinished stock when the firm closed down.

    An interesting and rare document regarding the English practice of making fusee watches, no watch collection complete without such an unfinished example. NB: English watch manufacturing was split into at least forty separate specialist trades at this time, around 50% who were involved in the manufacture of rough movements, which the Swiss/French called an ebauche. It is easy to see how much work was still needed at this point, but also to see how wonderfully good and crisp was the work of these pre-eminent Prescot specialists.

    In good original condition, and rare in this state with its dial.

    The makers who may have used ES that were operating in Lancashire from 1850 - 1900 as listed in the Liverpool database and trade directories are ...
    Frame makers – no candidates
    Movement Makers – Edward Saggerson [Eccleston] and Edward Scarisbrick [Prescot & Whiston]​

    Edward Saggerson has only a single directory entry in the Liverpool database and that for 1854.

    Edward Scarisbrick is recorded as a movement maker in both the 1861 & 1871 census records There are additional census records in 1851 {watch maker}, 1881 {no occupation on record} and 1891 {living on his own means' in Ormskirk}. In 1851, Edward was living with his brother Thomas Scarisbrook, listed as a watch movement maker in the Slater's Lancashire directory of 1855. It seems most likely that this is the work of Scarisbrick who has been described as a 'master movement maker'.

    The movement, as David indicates, is unusual in that, although fairly early in the production cycle, it has already been fitted with dial carrying the name of the watch maker F. B. Adams & Sons of London. The dial has three fixing pins which are yet to be drilled and the name of Adams is written on the back.

    20191022 028.jpg 20191022 002.jpg 20191022 027.jpg

    David infers that the movement had already been received in London, that the serial number is that of Adams and that it was in stock when the firm ceased trading. I have no reason to doubt this inference, but in the absence of any provenance, I see no strong evidence in the movement by itself, to assume that this movement had left Scarisbrick works.

    20191022 023.jpg 20191022 025.jpg

    In addition to the serial number (on both plates in full, and as a partial on the underside of the cock and potence),

    20191022 003.jpg 20191022 004.jpg 20191022 020.jpg 20191022 013.jpg 20191022 010.jpg

    the E·S maker's mark and the Lancashire size [16*0], the brass edge carries four punch marks, that are probably batch marks, however they are not repeated on any of the other components.

    20191022 006.jpg 20191022 005.jpg

    Interestingly, two of the pillars are drilled and two are not. Where the drilled pillars protrude through the plate, the plate has been grooved, whether this was done to facilitate the drilling I am unsure, but I have not observed it previously. I do believe, however, that I have seen other unfinished movements with only two of the four pillars drilled.

    20191022 026.jpg 20191022 023-2.jpg

    It will also be noted that the pilot holes have been drilled for the banking pins and one of each pair of screws securing the jewels, has been punched for identification.

    20191022 022.jpg

    John
     
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  11. Niall

    Niall Registered User

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    Hi John,

    A very interesting and truly unique piece you have acquired, I am always checking Davids site for new additions and frequently wonder where all these "rough" movements have been found.
     
  12. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    I understand that David acquired many of these in the past, when his appreciation of their importance was not shared by others. That is no longer the case and new examples rarely appear elsewhere - I have no recollection of any from any other source in the last four years, since I stated collecting.

    John
     
  13. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    201.01 & 201.02 – Watch calliper plates

    David Penney
    Very rare recording plate used by movements makers, 19th century.

    Brass plate scribed both sides and drilled for a going-barrel movement, the plate stamped 10. 34.5 mm diameter. JD is probably John Doke, movement maker, Prescot.

    Together with another brass plate bearing no maker's stamp, with which it came to me.

    Plates like these were used to record various different sizes and designs of rough watch movements that could be ordered from the manufacturers prior to being finished. Rough movements rarely survive, these caliper plates even less so.

    A rare an important aspect of our horological past. Both in typically handled condition, but still clearly showing the markings, and one with red sealing wax from where it had been fixed.

    The makers who may have used 'JD' that were operating in Lancashire from 1800 - 1900 as listed in the Liverpool database and trade directories are …

    Frame makers – Joseph Daniels [Prescot], James Davies [Prescot], John Dennett [Rainhill]​

    Movement makers – James Daniels [Farnworth], John Davies [Prescot], John Deanes [Ecclesworth], John Doke [Prescot], Joseph Dumbell [Liverpool], John Dwerryhouse [Widnes]​

    I feel that these plates are more likely to have been used by movement makers to initially 'set out' the design of the movement work. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that the initials 'JD' are probably that of a movement maker, rather than a frame maker. It may have been John Doke, the less well known brother of Richard Doke – the two brothers are listed as apprenticed watchmakers living at Warrington Road, Whiston, in the 1841 census.

    In addition to the names I have listed, Kemp (AH September 1981) identifies three examples with J.D. (note with two '.') and assigns the initials to John Doward. The corresponding records for Doward on the Liverpool database record the census entries for 1841 (watchmaker), 1851 (watch barrel & fusee maker) and 1861 (watch fusee maker). In the absence of further information, which Kemp does not provide, I do not believe that this is the movement maker who made the mark on this calliper. Kemp does not list either of the Doke brothers.

    I have seen the initials JD on completed movements, including a ~1870 Dent #32606 a single roller with Cole's patent banking on David Penney's site. This movement is of a different design, but is based upon a size 10 frame and has stamps very similar to those on the plate – the age of this movement is also compatible with dates when John Doke was active.

    On the JD example I have annotated the holes as to what I believe they are. Neither Graham nor I have been able to determine, with certainty the purpose of the '?' holes. Those in blue are blocked by sealing wax and we both believe this was probably to ensure that these were ignored when the plate was last used. Graham has confirmed these plate would have been suitable for use as templates to locate, and drill, the oversize holes for the initial planting. Subsequently, these would have been plugged and accurately drilled as part of the finishing.

    20191021 004.jpg 20191021 003.jpg 20191021 005.jpg Annotated.jpg

    I believe the second plate is also a pillar plate calliper of a going barrel design. The three larger holes I think correspond to the holes to accommodate the dial feet and the circular recess is to accommodate the barrel. I am uncertain about the remaining holes apart from that in the centre, but I wonder whether some may relate to the motion work.

    20191021 002.jpg 20191021 001.jpg

    On reflection I do not believe I have every seen an unfinished movement which did not already have the holes drilled in preparation for the initial planting; since examining these calliper plates, I have been considering this in terms of the point at which frame making transitioned into movement making. The fact that frame makers were listed as such in trade directories, without a corresponding entry in the movement maker section, leads me to infer that there may have been a 'frame product'. I have been trying to visualize what that might be. My current thinking is that it may be the two main plates connected by pillars – probably not drilled – but having already have been drilled for the initial planting.

    I have come to this conclusion, in part because of my observation at the beginning of the previous paragraph and also from considering how these calliper plates may have been used. I believe they are the first physical record of a production design.

    My current thoughts. They would have been produced from a 'theoretical paper design' or possibly by arranging a set of suitable 'off the shelf' components available to the movement maker and evolving the design from them. Once the calliper had been produced, it could have been used in the movement makers own shop to produce the 'frame product', or alternatively the stage may have been 'put-out' to a frame maker who would use the calliper to produce the frame. In the case where the movement maker worked from what I described as a paper design, I can imagine that the calliper may also be passed to a wheel maker in order to produce the wheels to the specified design.

    All comments welcome.

    John
     
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  14. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Possibly these might have been for the motion work, which would make sense if the calliper was last used to drill holes on the other side of the pillar plate.

    John
     
  15. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    These plates are fascinating objects, not only because of their rarity now, (they must once have been part of every workshop's equipment and so common as to be overlooked as having no intrinsic value), but because they go some way to illustrate the basic mechanics of making a watch. That the holes in the plates are all much the same size and bear no relationship to the finished sizes of those holes suggests that the holes drilled using these plate jigs were only pilots at most. They may not even have been drilled right through, but just spotted to establish the centres.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  16. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Graham you make a good point and their use to drill pilot holes is as I saw their use. However, I did wonder why the holes that I thought might be be in the position of the dial feet, in the second example, had been drilled larger.

    John
     
  17. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    Could it be connected with the fact that these holes were not intended to be bushed, as all the train holes were?

    I'm sure that this is a subject which the late Dr. David Torrens could have illuminated, had he ever written down a fraction of the knowledge he carried in his head; it's such a tragic loss that he died so suddenly after his retirement in 1967 and never had the chance to document his lifetime's research on the English watchmaking trade as he intended.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  18. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Graham - yes, that could be the reason, yet I don't believe the pillar holes on the Doke example are full size, they look as if they are pilot holes. Also those dial holes, if that's what they are, are chamfered on the dial side of the plate.

    John
     
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  19. Chris Radek

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    I can imagine that the larger holes were used to mount this template over the workpiece on the lathe faceplate. Then one of the little holes is centered with a wobble stick or similar indicator, the template is removed, and the target hole opened, bored almost to size (thereby placing it accurately) and then probably reamed to final size.

    I can't imagine them being drilled through to make pilot holes and then bigger drills were used - that simply doesn't give you holes in the right places.
     
  20. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    Perhaps as a reminder to the workman that the actual dial foot holes would also need to be chamfered in the same way?

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  21. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Chris,

    They didn't need to be very accurately placed at this stage because the pivots on the train arbors weren't formed yet. The train was roughly planted in holes large enough to take the bare arbors. When the rough movement reached the finishing stage, the pivots were formed and all the holes were plugged before the train was accurately depthed. You can often see where the final pivot holes aren't quite central in the larger plugs, and also occasionally the arcs scribed by a depthing tool as part of the process are visible.

    The template was probably clamped to the plate or stuck with wax, (as evidenced in the second picture in John's post #13), and a hand drill used to mark all the holes in a single process; no need to fit up in the mandrel for each hole.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  22. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Here is an example from an unfinished three quarter plate movement from further in the production cycle. It has been jewelled and all the train planted in its final position. The jewelled hole is the fourth wheel and above the un-jewelled third has a brass plug (slightly more golden in colour) centred on a pilot hole which was probably set using a calliper plate.

    20190129 002.jpg

    John
     
  23. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    CORRECTION - I failed to realise that Kemp adds a period after all the maker's marks in his list on page 80 of the paper. From the current information I have, I believe that [JD] may be John Doke and [J.D] is probably one of the alternative makers I have listed.

    John
     
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  24. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    Whilst clearing out my hard drive of some the hundreds of photographs on there I came across some pictures that I had taken several years ago. I had borrowed all of the Liverpool made movements and watches from a friend as part of a general SW Lancashire research project, which subsequently hit the brick wall of the Liverpool Museum and died a death. The attached pictures are of the only one of 9 movements to have initials stamped on any part. I don't have pictures of the escapement (not relevant here anyway) but it was a Massey Type 3. I believe that the hall marks are for Chester 1831/32.

    P1020400.JPG P1020397.JPG P1020405.JPG P1020839.JPG
     
  25. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Dave - my thanks for the post.

    I concur Chester 1831/32. Case makers Timothy Ellison and Henry Fishwick of 5 Tarleton Street, Liverpool (1822-1837). The initials on the inner surface of the pillar plate are a little difficult to discern, are they 'IF' or possibly poorly stamped 'IE'? neither of which are familiar to me. I will try to find some candidates.

    John
     
  26. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    John, I believe it to be IF with the distortion created by the top of the last digit of the serial number. It is my suspicion that this is actually for John Foster, listed in the Liverpool Museum db as a watchmaker over the appropriate period.
     
  27. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Dave - sounds reasonable ...

    Is this the mark of the finisher rather than the movement maker - I wonder what stage the movement was at when he received it? Unusual to have the mark on that side of the pillar plate, I wonder if there was also a mark on the dial side?

    Pigots 1837 trade directory of Liverpool -> the * indicates also a chronometer maker.

    upload_2019-11-11_0-11-50.png

    confirmed in 1841 census as noted in Liverpool database

    upload_2019-11-11_0-23-23.png
    John
     
  28. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    Firstly John, there is no mark on the dial side of the pillar plate. It may well be that the raw movement was bought in and finished by Foster, we will probably never know. He seems to have been active over quite a lengthy period and in a variety of disciplines so he may well have had the skills to generate a movement from scratch or simply the frame and bring in the component parts. I have not seen another watch with his name on.
     
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