Genuine Roskell (sold by, not made by) ?

Andrew Wilde

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I realise that what I have here isn't a Roskell watch made by Robert snr in the early 1800's !
I know that the Roskell family were in involved in the watch/jewellery trade into the late 1800's and used the Roskell name on pieces they offered from a variety of sources, but I don't have examples of the variety of "signatures" that they used.
Can anyone confirm if this is likely to be such a piece, retailed by Roskell?
It's unremarkable, but nicely made. Case and movement belong together, case hallmarked for London 1880. I believe the casemaker is William Hammon of Coventry, but the mark isn't clear. The Roskell signature looks right in terms of style and detail but I guess forgers had gotten pretty proficient by 1880. There are no marks under the balance cock, under the dial or inside the plates, except for the usual size numbers
Thanks for any help/opinion ... Andy

IMG_4531.jpg IMG_4532.jpg IMG_4533.jpg IMG_4534.jpg
 

Lychnobius

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Allan Purcell for one may have something to add, as may Graham, but meanwhile I feel sure that Andrew is right. The regulator scale with its central star suggests that the movement too was made or at least worked on in Coventry. The compensated balance is a bonus point; this feature was still very much in the minority on English watches until the following decade.

Oliver Mundy.
 

gmorse

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Hi Andy,

The engraving on the top plate was done by a machine, probably a pantograph; it's too regular and mechanical for hand work. The whole movement could well be wholly or partially machine-made also. A look on the dial side of the pillar plate may reveal more.

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Andrew, if you take a look at the Roskell File on here, you will see this is a very poor fake by some firm in Coventry. The Signature alone will tell you that.

Best Wishes,

Allan.
 

Andrew Wilde

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Oliver - thanks for the comments - so it's clearly a "Coventry" watch - movement style and case point to that.

Graham - thanks, I don't doubt the signature is machine engraved. I'll take a look under the dial sometime and post a picture, but to be honest I don't really care if it's machine made, hand made or in fact who made it - I appreciate the concept of a named watchmaker at this date is folly.

Allan - thanks. I'm really trying to establish if the Roskell signature is an attempt (a poor one as you rightly say) to represent the watch as something it isn't (a Robert Roskell Snr watch from the early 1800s), i.e. the intent is fraud, or if it is a mark used by the later Roskell involved in the London based jewellery business, Hunt & Roskell.
This company was founded in 1792 by the celebrated goldsmith Paul Storr, who went into partnership with John Mortimer as 'Storr & Mortimer, Goldsmiths and Jewellers to Her Majesty' between 1822 and 1839. In 1826 Storr's nephew, John Samuel Hunt, joined the firm. Storr retired in 1838, his place was taken by John Hunt junior and the firm traded as Mortimer & Hunt until Mortimer's retirement in 1843, at which time Robert Roskell (son of the famed watchmaker Robert Roskell Snr) joined the firm. Only then did the name become 'Hunt & Roskell'. Hunt & Roskell traded well into the 20th century - 1960s.
I was hoping someone might know if Hunt & Roskell ever added the Roskell "signature" to their pocket watches, and if mine might be an example of this. Not unreasonable that they might have attempted to benefit from the family connection, and in such circumstances not a fraudulent use of the name.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Andrew thanks for posting this, a quick answer is Hunt and Roskell signed watches they sold with "Hunt & Roskell" and were top graded watches,(Mostly made by London makers) Roskell Liverpool carried on after Snr retired in 1842, bit sold out to J W Benson in 1888. Yout watch had nothing to do with either. Roskell watches signed R. Roskell are known but are all made before 1808. All the information you need is in the Roskell File.

Allan.
 

Andrew Wilde

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Thanks again Allan. Maybe you'll like this one better :) Arrived just this morning and needs some work, but looks to be complete and sound. Hallmarks are rubbed and need some investigating, but could be Birmingham 1811. A quick look between the plates reveals a cobweb and a dead spider, so it's probably not run for a while. It'll be the first rack lever I've worked on.

IMG_4587.jpg IMG_4588.jpg IMG_4589.jpg
 

gmorse

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Hi Andy,

Definitely the real thing! As it has the 30 tooth escape, presumably the dial has the 15 second bit to match. Notice the superscript 't' in the signature, and also the small sighting hole in the top plate just by the 3rd wheel pivot, a typical Roskell feature. There should also be one in the pillar plate bar next to the escape pivot. Setting rack levers in beat when reassembling can be fun.

Regards,

Graham
 

Andrew Wilde

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Hi Andy,

Definitely the real thing! As it has the 30 tooth escape, presumably the dial has the 15 second bit to match. Notice the superscript 't' in the signature, and also the small sighting hole in the top plate just by the 3rd wheel pivot, a typical Roskell feature. There should also be one in the pillar plate bar next to the escape pivot. Setting rack levers in beat when reassembling can be fun.

Regards,

Graham
There is no seconds bit !
 

John Matthews

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Andy - any cap maker's marks?

John
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Andy, very nice Rt, Roskell rack Lever with slides and a thirty tooth escape wheel. They don´t come much better. I have though one small point Roskell 3059 and 3106 are both hallmarked Chester 1805 So another good look at the case, maybe a photograph?

Good Luck with that spider,:eek:

Allan.
 
Last edited:

gmorse

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Hi Andy,

The slides in these were made in two versions; one allows movement in only one axis, (red), which adjusts the engagement of the pallets with the escape wheel, and the other, yours, allows it in two axes, altering the depth of engagement between the rack and the balance pinion, (blue). There's a brass pin at each end of the slide, (only one of which is visible under the blue circles), which control this.

IMG_4587_edit.jpg

Regards,

Graham
 

Andrew Wilde

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Hi John, Graham, Allan,
Thank you for your various comments on this. I will provide some additional pictures later today when I've had a chance to try to capture the case markings. I've been taking a closer look at what I've got here (it only arrived yesterday) and there are certainly questions over whether it's all original, or at least whether the inner and outer cases are a match. The escape wheel looks to have a couple of short teeth. Everything looks fine under the dial. I'm not about to split the plates yet as I've no confidence I know enough to put it back together !
John - no cap makers marks I'm afraid.
Allan - I will provide hallmark images as best I can, but I'm pretty sure that the date letter is a lower case 'm' - what I can make out seems to rule out anything else (and the spider has been laid to rest !)
More later ... Andy
 

gmorse

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Hi Andy,

I'm not about to split the plates yet as I've no confidence I know enough to put it back together !
When you do come to that point, I recommend that you dismantle it with the pillar plate uppermost. That way, the lever and large escape wheel are far less likely to become caught under the potence, which can endanger their pivots.

Regards,

Graham
 

Andrew Wilde

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Thanks Graham.
Some further pictures, below, of the case and partial hallmarks. I'm pretty convinced it's Birmingham and date letter 'm' but more than happy to be advised otherwise as that date doesn't fit in with what's already on file, opening up the possibility of a recase. Looking at the inner case initially I thought the damage and marking around the winding hole might be indicative of a repositioned hole, but on reflection I think it's more likely that there was once a cover over the winding hole. The pendant has been resoldered. The outer case is also a challenge. No hallmarks whatsoever, no sign there ever have been. No release button or spring, and no evidence there ever has been a spring. It looks to me like an unfinished outer case. Inner and outer fit together well, outer shoulders hug the pendant so I'm guessing an unfinished replacement outer made specifically for the inner. Anyway, pictures below, comments welcomed...

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gmorse

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Hi Andy,

I'm pretty convinced it's Birmingham and date letter 'm' but more than happy to be advised otherwise as that date doesn't fit in with what's already on file, opening up the possibility of a recase.
I don't think there's any doubt that it's Birmingham with a date letter of lowercase 'm', which doesn't leave much room for alternative years; 1810/11 is most likely, there's no earlier one and the next lowercase 'm' is a blackletter one for 1886/87 and after that is 1911/12, neither of which seem at all plausible. The inner case certainly had a disc shutter over the winding hole at some time, presumably following the loss of its matching outer, and I agree that the present outer was never completed, but is a professional job in fit and finish, especially the joint.

Although the movement joint appears to be a good fit in the inner case, could you perhaps post a picture of the joint with the movement closed in the case but with the bezel open?

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Andy, I think your thoughts and remarks above are correct. It matters not that the watch is re-cased, especially when you have it up and running. I have put it on file with your initials, and it will be on the next update.

If you get fed up with it, let me know, please.

Regards,

Allan
 

Andrew Wilde

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Allan - if I get fed up with it I'll call, but don't hold your breath ;). It's my first rack lever in any state, so even if it's not the prettiest example I'll be holding on to it for a while. I have every intention of addressing it's various issues. Speaking of which, some more pictures showing the dial (interesting reverse to that maybe; what's in red is above the glaze, Cooper in black is beneath the glaze) and some damage to that escape wheel - there's a tooth with some thinning to the end, and three teeth below it a broken one. I'm going to have find someone who can do wheel repair.
John - the cover - nowt there !
Graham, I'll add a picture of the movement in the case later ...

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gmorse

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Hi Andy,

...this what you were after ?
Thanks, it is. The case looks from this picture to be a pretty good fit if it is a replacement.

IMG_4609_edit.jpg

But the joint when the bezel is closed looks a little loose, so this could be a replacement case.

IMG_4608_edit.jpg

This is the sight hole I mentioned earlier; I believe these were intended for checking the depthing of the adjacent pinions, which would otherwise be obscured.

IMG_4611_edit.jpg

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi Andy,

there's a tooth with some thinning to the end, and three teeth below it a broken one. I'm going to have find someone who can do wheel repair.
That's going to be a delicate job! I do know a couple of people who could do this, or what would probably be easier, cut a new wheel for you.

Regards,

Graham
 

Andrew Wilde

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Hi Andy,

But the joint when the bezel is closed looks a little loose, so this could be a replacement case.

Regards,

Graham
Thanks Graham, the movement hinge is perfectly tight. It operates smoothly and there is no hint of a wobble. It's as perfect a fit at the hinge as any watch I've had.

I'll PM you about the wheel, if that's OK ... Andy
 

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