Help dating a Savage 2-pin

Andrew Wilde

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This was bought as one of a pair of pair-cased watches at auction; neither in great condition but the other watch was from a town with family connections, and although the only movement image of this one was with the dust cover on, the shape of the balance cock and the Patent engraving, together with a supposed 1827 date, looked like it might offer the chance of a Massey.
On arrival, I found I had my first Savage 2 pin, nicely jewelled and with the bonus of it having the position-identification dots on the plate and screw heads of the jewel retaining screws (I knew of these but have never seen them before, perhaps surprisingly). The Patent marking is spurious I assume, as Savage didn't patent his escapement. There are no markings/initials on the visible sides of the plates or the underside of the balance cock. The lever has the smaller version of the typical rack lever D shaped counterbalance. The banking pins are inboard of the lever pivot. It originally had a stop/start mechansim with the lever at 5 o'clock.
The case is a disappointment. The inner is a replacement, with the original winding hole filled and the new one with a crude pinned cover, with a Birmingham hallmark that I can't decipher. The outer (by Vale & Rotherham I think) is indeed dated 1827 and while it's a perfect fit with the inner, the two are clearly not an original pair. I suppose it's possible that the outer case is original to the movement but that will remain just a possibility.

While in component form it all looks a bit ugly (except for the movement), with a set of hands and dial hairlines cleaned I think it will be presentable.

Given my complete inexperience with the Savage 2-pin, I'm wondering if it's possible to narrow down the likely date for the movement, closer than the 1815-1850(ish) range of known examples. I realise that will only be speculative, but any thoughts on it would be greatly appreciated.

IMG_5200.jpg IMG_5201.jpg IMG_5203.jpg IMG_5205.jpg IMG_5209.jpg IMG_5210.jpg IMG_5211.jpg IMG_5212.jpg IMG_5213.jpg IMG_5214.jpg
 

John Matthews

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Andrew

I suspect the cap maker may be Robert Smith who was active in London (St Lukes). The examples of caps I have recorded are all on London finished movements, in the period 1815 to 1830. Smith is listed in trade directories in the 1820s.

The latest example I have of a Savage 2 pin escapement in a full plate movement is ~1840 - see here for a similar example to yours.

Do you have a clearer photograph of the slot in the roller ...

1616086473847.png

it looks as if the adjacent sides if the slot have been cut back.

John
 

Andrew Wilde

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Thanks John,
I don't have anything clearer to hand. I can confirm that the table has what looks like a shallow V cut out, with the squared slot cut into the apex of that (or it may be that the slot was originally deeper and its sides have been chamfered).
It's all back together again now so I can't do anything immediately about a clearer picture, but will lift the balance tomorrow to try and get a better image of it.
 

gmorse

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Hi Andy,

I don't have anything clearer to hand. I can confirm that the table has what looks like a shallow V cut out, with the squared slot cut into the apex of that (or it may be that the slot was originally deeper and its sides have been chamfered).
It's all back together again now so I can't do anything immediately about a clearer picture, but will lift the balance tomorrow to try and get a better image of it.
Yes, that would be interesting to see, because a Savage should have a narrow, parallel-sided slot to provide not the safety but the impulse. The slot isn't centred on the two unlocking pins, which makes me wonder if this has been converted to a sort of Savage from either a two-pin or single-pin English lever. The chamfered edges of the slot would have some effect on the impulse I should think.

The lever has been in place for some time, clearly, judging by the wear on the fork from the two pins. A picture of the whole lever would be good if you can manage it, but I know you won't want to split the plates again so soon after putting it together!

The 'JO' is for John Oswin in St John Street, Coventry.

Regards,

Graham
 

Andrew Wilde

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John, Graham,
My efforts at clearer pictures - best I can do I'm afraid. On dismantling it again I found a couple of marks - what looks like a V on the underside of the barrel bridge and the foot of the balance cock - picture included. I suspect they are batch marks rather than an initial, and I'm certain they don't appear on any other component. The pin at the fork end of the lever looks like it's a replacement.

IMG_20210319_163335.jpg IMG_20210319_163423.jpg IMG_20210319_163459.jpg IMG_20210319_163550.jpg IMG_20210319_163608.jpg IMG_20210319_164147.jpg IMG_20210319_164432.jpg IMG_20210319_164615.jpg IMG_20210319_164826.jpg IMG_20210319_165059.jpg
 
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gmorse

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Hi Andy,

Thanks for the clearer pictures.

Now, here's a thought for you; what do you think this rectangular mark under the top plate around the lever might be?

IMG_20210319_164147_crop.jpg

There's no sign of it on the upper surface, so what does it remind you of?

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi Andy,
A rack lever converted to a Savage 2-pin !!!
I think it is. It also appears that the pallets are circular, without draw, (typical in rack levers), whereas Savage did use draw, so I think the pallets go with the escape wheel and they were part of a rack lever. The lever itself was made for the Savage configuration and the earlier pallet frame was fitted to it; why waste a perfectly good escape wheel/pallets combination? The plates had the rectangular openings for the slides filled in and they were re-gilt.

That doesn't explain why the roller impulse slot has chamfered edges however, unless the worker who did it couldn't get it to run without that modification; a Savage required very precise workmanship to be successful.

A very interesting and unusual piece of conversion!

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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I have a hypothesis.

The frame was made in Lancashire at a time when some were finished locally as rack levers & some were shipped to London where they finished with different escapements. The frame arrived in London as an unfinished movement already jewelled. The escapement was finished/modified as a Savage and then gilded having never been finished as a rack lever.

The style of the frame is one that is commonly seen on London Savages. I will check my photographs to see if I can find further examples.

I believe you can see a shadow of the slot on the upper side.

John
 
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gmorse

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Hi John,

Interesting, but how do you account for the lack of draw? If it was finished in London as a Savage, I'd be surprised if the pallet frame was retained from the rack and just stuck on a Savage lever, and even more surprised that the roller had a 'passing crescent' cut in it.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Graham

I cannot explain everything.

The finish of the frame, the gilding & the filling of the slot, if it was ever cut out, contrasts with the quality of the escapement. The cap was probably by a London maker. I was not sure that the modification to the lever fork was to facilitate passing. Are you suggesting that the escapement is now functioning as a two pin lever rather than a Savage?

The impression I have is that what we now see is the result of modification after the Savage escapement was initially finished.

Did all the early Savages have draw?

John

Edit: the trace of the slot on the top side of the back plate with the lever pivot hole at the corner

1616197821508.png
 
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gmorse

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Hi John,

I was not sure that the modification to the lever fork was to facilitate passing. Are you suggesting that the escapement is now functioning as a two pin lever rather than a Savage?
I used the term 'passing crescent' in quotes because that's what it looks like, not necessarily what it actually does, which is a question that can only be answered with any certainty with the watch in hand, or more specifically with the lever and escape wheel, (and with the balance), in the depthing tool. The relationship between the lever fork and the two pins in the roller, and that between the impulse pin in the lever and the notch in the roller can't be properly observed between full plates.

Did all the early Savages have draw?
Yes, I believe they did, George was apparently very well up to speed with the implications of the geometry of his escapement, in contrast to the early Massey escapements. All the Savages I'm aware of are very well finished, they had to be to work properly, and those two pins in the roller simply aren't centred on the notch.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Graham

There are very few descriptions of Savage escapements that 'reliably' describe draw and those I can find of early examples, indicate that draw is present. So that supports your observation.

I agree that the finish that we see now is not up to the normal standard of a Savage. It has definitely been 'messed with' and the modification to the roller around the slot can be described in that manner, as can the state of and placement of the pins. However, apart from the escapement, the quality of earlier finishing, including the gilding over the impression of, or filled slot, appears to me to have been reasonably good, certainly far better than the current state of the escapement.

My logic is, if it was initially a rack, then both the modification of the plate and the conversion to a Savage escapement would have been done at the same time. This being so you would have expected a much better finish to the escapement, which makes me think the escapement we see now is later, which begs the question, were any of the elements from a previously installed rack or was this always a Savage, that was subsequently 'messed with'.

You are probably right and it was a conversion from a rack, but not a straightforward one with a simple history.

John
 

Andrew Wilde

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Graham, John, thank you for all your thoughts on this. I feel a bit silly for having missed the outline of the slider in-fill; it is in fact visible of the upper side of the plate as well, in the right light light and with magnification - photo below. There's no such obvious outline on the pillar plate where the slider would have been although with a bit of imagination it might be discerned. What is there though are hammer or punch marks, possibly where a similar in-fill has been tapped in - photo below.
What I can't find is any sign that the inboard banking pins are not in their original position. There is no sign that there were pins anywhere else along the line between balance and lever pivots. I know that both rack lever and Savage had inboard banking pins (is this simply because the size and shape of the counterbalance on these preclude the use of outboard pins ?) but I don't have enough knowledge about the geometry and mechanics of escapements to know how sensitive these escapements are to the pin position, and therefore whether the pins being in their original position adds evidence to John's suggestion that the watch was originally finished as a Savage, albeit on a frame prepared for a rack lever ?
If either of you would find it interesting to take a closer look, message me and we can arrange it.
Thanks again for all the input ... Andy

IMG_20210320_132113.jpg IMG_20210320_133653.jpg
 

gmorse

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Hi Andy,

Going on limited experience with restoring rack levers, the banking pins don't have the same function in racks as they do in detached levers. They're rather wider apart than these and are there solely to prevent the rack from winding off the balance staff pinion entirely in the event of a severe jolt; they play no part in controlling the lever during normal running. As such, the escapement isn't at all sensitive to their positioning, and if they had been moved to the position required by a Savage it would be hard to identify where they were originally planted because the gilding following any alterations was pretty thick, as testified by the difficulty of detecting the filled slide apertures on the upper surface of the plates, (they didn't take so much trouble with areas that were out of sight).

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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rather wider apart than these
The rack lever is banked against either pin in these two photographs ...

1616257258246.png

and here the rack lever (3 wheel train)

1616257402082.png

Unfortunately, all the examples for which I have photographs of the lever are for three wheel trains (which all almost ubiquitous on racks) - I was trying to find a photograph showing the pallet frame from a four wheel train. Graham do you have one?

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,

I was trying to find a photograph showing the pallet frame from a four wheel train. Graham do you have one?
No, I can't find one, either, but whether three or four wheel trains, it's important to remember that in normal running the lever doesn't contact the banking pins, the balance amplitude never becomes that large, they're purely a safety device. You'll recognise this movement I'm sure:

DSCF6852.JPG

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Andrew, I have just read the old thread below by Keith R. It could be the answer.

Plus take a look at this original Thomas Savage in Maxell Cutmores book "The Pocket Watch Handbook" He says "A Rack lever movement by Thomas Savage c1820". Food for thought. he goes on "although marked London, it appears to be a Lancashire product with typical cock, jewelling and crows feet regulator index. The Lever has adjustable bearings. The watch is a pair-cased and has a fusee with maintaining power, a stop piece and a four-wheel train."
00-13.JPG
 

Andrew Wilde

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Hi Allan, thanks for the pointers. Which is the thread by Keith ?
So we have a Savage (but not George) producing a rack lever, and I know Litherland produced watches with the Savage escapement. All quite insestuous back in the 1820s ;-)
 

Andrew Wilde

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Hi Graham - I think the thanks go from me to you for such a thorough analysis of the current state of the movement and the possible scenarios that have led to that. It clearly started off as a much better quality movement than it has ended up as, and while that is disappointing, it has a story to tell if it could but speak !
Best wishes ... Andy
 

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