Geo. carley & co. watch--how old is it?

Alan G

NAWCC Member
Jul 5, 2013
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I normally collect American-made watches, but I picked up a British watch the other day. I'm trying to figure out how old it is.

It is a key-wind/key set, about 16-size, open-face. The movement is marked "Geo. Carley & Co., 30 Ely Place, London," and "no. 26742." The hallmarks indicate the case is sterling silver, and also made in London. The date mark, a lower-case "f", appears to indicate 1861. I would have guessed much later, due to the size and construction (the only other British watch I have is 18-size, much thicker, and features a fusee, and its hallmarks show that case was made in Chester in 1883.

Sorry for the quality of the attached photos--the back of the case is hinged, making it difficult to get good pictures with my camera.

Thanks for any information.

Alan Goebes
Indianapolis

IMG_2888.JPG IMG_2895.JPG IMG_2891.JPG IMG_2897.JPG
 

Alan G

NAWCC Member
Jul 5, 2013
14
4
3
I get 1869 for the Chester date letter. The watch looks right for that period.
I normally collect American-made watches, but I picked up a British watch the other day. I'm trying to figure out how old it is.

It is a key-wind/key set, about 16-size, open-face. The movement is marked "Geo. Carley & Co., 30 Ely Place, London," and "no. 26742." The hallmarks indicate the case is sterling silver, and also made in London. The date mark, a lower-case "f", appears to indicate 1861. I would have guessed much later, due to the size and construction (the only other British watch I have is 18-size, much thicker, and features a fusee, and its hallmarks show that case was made in Chester in 1883.

Sorry for the quality of the attached photos--the back of the case is hinged, making it difficult to get good pictures with my camera.

Thanks for any information.

Alan Goebes
Indianapolis

View attachment 658125 View attachment 658126 View attachment 658127 View attachment 658128
 

Alan G

NAWCC Member
Jul 5, 2013
14
4
3
It was my other British watch (not pictured) that was hallmarked Chester--a shield with a sword and three sheaves of wheat. The case for this Carley watch is hallmarked London--a shield with a leopard's head. So that would make it 1861. I just didn't think it was that early, but then I don't know European watches.

By the way, the maker's mark--hard to read in my photo--is "J.O."--haven't found a listing on him.

Alan Goebes
 

Les harland

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Apr 10, 2008
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Loomes Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World Lists:-
Carley George & Co London 1844-51 (57-81)
Carley & Clemence Ltd London Ely Place 1906-30 Makers to the Admiralty
I am not sure what the figures in the brackets mean
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Alan,
By the way, the maker's mark--hard to read in my photo--is "J.O."--haven't found a listing on him.
This mark is for James Oliver at 4 King Square, Goswell Road, London, (from Philip Priestley's book on English case makers). It's not clear whether this James was related to the Oliver family of case makers whose last member, Richard James Oliver II, died in 1989.

Regarding Les' query on the numbers in brackets, I can't find an explanation for this in Loomes, but I suspect that it means that they're dates in which the company was believed to be working but there's no firm proof of that or where they were.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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Retailers, wholesalers and importers

1856 Trade directory

1623229602862.png

- clock & wholesale watch makers

1882 Trade directory

1623229797906.png

- watch & clock makers and importers.

John
 
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Les harland

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Thank you John
Your two trade directory entries fit nicely in the gap between the dates in the entries from Loomes
I did not know if George Carley was at Ely Place
 

Alan G

NAWCC Member
Jul 5, 2013
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From a 2017 Forum response about another Carley watch--- https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/geo-carley-co-pocket-watch.145027/

"...the maker is Geo. Carley & Co (not Carter) of 30 Ely Place London. Would be interesting if we could find out a bit more about him. What I do know so far is the following: George Carley moved from Wilderness Row to Ely Place, and after 1857 the firm became known as George Carley & Co., and it continued there after his death in 1879 until 1881. The business became Carley & Clemence Ltd. in 1903."

So perhaps that means the figures in the brackets--"(57-81)" could be the dates the concern was known as George Carley & Co (assuming they changed the name after Carley died in 1881--although that is just a guess).

Alan Goebes
 

Alan G

NAWCC Member
Jul 5, 2013
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Whoops--just noticed that the 1882 Trade Directory that John shows indicates the name "George Carley and Co." still in use a year after Carley died.

Alan Goebes
 

gmorse

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Hi Alan,

One thing we can be pretty sure about is that Carley & Co. didn't actually make the watch from scratch, although they may have had a hand in finishing it. In common with almost all English watches from the early 17th century onwards, the frame or raw movement was not made by the name on the top plate, but in one of the watchmaking centres in the UK, London, Liverpool or Coventry; at the date of your watch Coventry was growing in importance, and the trade consisted of many specialist craftspeople, some working alone and others in larger workshops, supplying the retailers with movements in whatever level of finish they ordered right up to fully finished and cased watches ready for sale to the public. Up to 40 or 50 specialists would be involved in making a watch.

This was not a 'private label' in the sense understood in the US, all English watches were made this way.

Regards,

Graham
 

Les harland

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Loomes Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World has another entry for George Carley that ties in with Alan Gs post
Carley George Diss Norfolk UK 1830 -42 then London Wilderness Row 1842 died 1879
There are other Carleys listed in Norfolk and Suffolk
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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George Carley & Co were listed at 30 Ely Place until ~1900, in 1910, at the same address, Carley & Clemence Ltd. wholesale English and Swiss watch manufacturers, & carriage clock importers. So the name lived on!

George Carley is first listed in 1841 at 3 Singleton Street, Hoxton, 1842 - 18 Wilderness Row Clerkenwell, 1852 - 45 St John's Square Clerkenwell, from 1844 30 Ely Place.

I suspect George Carley, given his early addresses, was a watch finisher, possibly doing more than finishing in the traditional sense, but over time moved into retailing, wholesale and importing.

John
 

Alan G

NAWCC Member
Jul 5, 2013
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Thanks to all for the information. Not as accurate, I imagine, as my Illinois Bunn Special, but with a charm all its own.

Alan Goebes
 

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