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Help with JOHN JOHNSON Pocket Watch - Liverpool FUSEE

ForkInTheRoad

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If anyone has information about this pocket watch I will be very grateful. It is marked JOHN JOHNSON Liverpool with a serial number of 7313. I do not have a key to wind it. The balance wheel, when very carefully 'flicked', agitates with great action for a few seconds on its own....and the seconds hand moves as well. The case has the same number as the movement (7313). Would it be reasonable to assume that this case was made expressly for this movement? Would it also be reasonable to believe that the case is solid gold vs. plated or filled? Again, thanks. (I can find info on Joseph Johnson, but nothing on a "John".)
 

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Keith R...

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Well, I purchased one, it's about all I can say. Mine is in an American 18K case,
so hallmarks can't pinpoint a date. If you would take a clear photo of the inside
of the back case lid it would help, mine shows an eagle/18 I believe. Now the
solid compensated balance wheel is a US export preference, landing in post 1850
for your example, which helps my earlier example.

Yours appears to have almost English hallmarks, but I don't see other than the
crown, the mark for gold content.

edit, solid compensated balance wheel. I can't tell from photo if those are pressed
jewels or just a plain 7J.

Keith

Jonj.JPG Jonj2.jpg jj163a.jpg
 
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PapaLouies

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Hi Fork,

Welcome to the board, you can find a John Johnson #4803 on Keith's Post #490 at Thread: Josh Johnson.

Regards,

PL
 

novicetimekeeper

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The left hand mark looks like a half impression of the Chester mark, the crown doesn't look like one I have ever seen and the other mark looks like a leopard's head. I know Leopard's heads were used outside London at some point but I don't recall where or when. Hopefully somebody will be along shortly to explain all that.
 

gmorse

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Hi ForkInTheRoad,

Nick is right, the left-hand mark looks like the Chester town mark, and it isn't uncommon for the dome, (the inner back), to have only partial marks, (here lacking a date letter), so we do need to see the marks on the inside of the outer back. I can't see the marks clearly on the inside of the front lid, but there doesn't seem to be a full set there either. The leopard's head was a part of the Chester marks for some time.

We've seen a lot of Liverpool movements in US made cases; there was a thriving trade in Liverpool supplying movements to the US market which were then cased locally, and many of these cases have what look at first sight like English hallmarks. These are in the main perfectly good cases, and it's possible to debate whether their makers were attempting to deceive, or just providing cases which complemented the movements they contained. Your case appears to be substantial and well-made; is the dial also gold?

The movement seems to be jewelled only to the balance, so 7 jewels, and the endstone in the balance cock looks like a diamond. The escapement may well be a Massey, judging by the engraving on the cock foot.

Just noticed that there's a balance brake as well.

Regards,

Graham
 
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MartyR

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Nick is right about the hallmarks, which I am sure are genuine. What you have is a partial set, and as Keith suggests you should have the full set on the inside of the outer back cover.

The crowned leopard's head was used in conjunction with the Chester town mark until 1822, after which the town mark alone was used. I have seen examples of the crown mark with out the "18" for 18K gold in partial sets, and the lack of the date mark (although unusual) does definitely occur.

You seem to have a maker's mark of E.T incused, but that may be my mistake as that mark seems to be rubbed. I cannot find such a maker's mark anywhere in my reference books, but it is difficult to check without the date mark. In any event, the records of Chester makers are often difficult to trace becaus the Chester records are notoriously unreliable.

Finally, I have no doubt that your John Johnson is a genuine Liverpool watch, and it is noteworthy that ther is a great similarity between the flared balance cock foot of yours and Keith's - I would not doubt that they are by the same maker. There is much current discussion in this forum of the Johnson family (or as it now seems, two families!) and it may be that John Johnson is a next generation relative of the original Jospeh Johnson who worked in Church Street, Liverpool.
 

ForkInTheRoad

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I inherited this watch (along with a hundred others) about 12 years ago. At that time, I tried to do research (as a layman, which I still am today) and came across (I believe) a post on this very website(?) : "I have seen a watch signed John Johnson but conforming in every other way to the house style of the firm. Possibly this John was a family member who headed a particular overseas office." (The 'firm' referred to was Joseph Johnson) AND "I am greatly indebted to Mr. John Meyer of Las Vegas (a descendant of the Johnson family) for much additional information on the firm's history and on serial numbers "I tried to contact Mr. Meyer but was unable to do so.
 

gmorse

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Hi ForkInTheRoad,

This front cover tells us less than the inner back! Could you post a picture of the inside of the outer back, please? I have to say, that crown does look odd.

However, it does show that the dial is enamel and not gold.

Regards,

Graham
 

Lychnobius

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I am afraid I have to differ from Martin for once. I believe the case of No. 7313 is American, like that of Keith's 4808, with imitation English hallmarks. As Martin says, the crowned leopard's head (the mark nearest the winding-hole) is not usually found after 1822, but it persists on the American cases mentioned by Keith. British casemakers did not usually decorate the bow, and the hunter style, while certainly not unknown in Britain, was far less popular than it was in the United States. The case is probably gold throughout, though possibly not quite up to the then usual 18-carat standard. The house of Johnson exported much of of its output across the Atlantic, usually in the shape of uncased movements; they attracted less import duty this way, and the jewellers of New York were perfectly capable of casing them worthily.

The original Joseph Johnson (1780-1827) had a son, John Houghton Johnson. He lived only to the age of 28 (1808-1836), but this watch may well date from his lifetime (middle to late 1820s, I would guess), and so there is no reason why he should not be the John Johnson named on the movement. At any rate, there seems to have been no other John in the family. His name may have been used to denote watches of a particular quality (a foreshadowing perhaps of the 'grade' system in the later American industry), or perhaps to indicate that they were sold through a particular outlet; we do not yet know.

John Meyer (mentioned above) has recently been posting as 'Hilbre' on this board. Coincidentally, I have been in touch with him this week and he has put me in the way of much helpful information which I shall pass on as soon as I have fully digested it.

Oliver Mundy.
 
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ForkInTheRoad

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Jan 25, 2016
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There is a serial number 8265 John Johnson watch up for auction online (ending today). The seller claims it also has matching case numbers. They also claim that according to The Complete Guide to American Pocket Watches by Cooksey Shugard and Tom Engle, that this was made by a South Carolina watchmaker in 1763! Perhaps the seller is confusing the South Carolina ticket to the antiques roadshow that accompanies it with...? In any event, interesting to see yet another John Johnson watch. The case markings are not described or photographed.
 

Omexa

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Hi ForkInTheRoad, you are not allowed to post Live Auctions on this forum. I think that the moderators will soon tell you. 1763 Hahhah no way. Hi from you comments you are the seller. "I do not have a key to wind it. The balance wheel, when very carefully 'flicked', agitates with great action for a few seconds on its own....and the seconds hand moves as well." Regards Ray
 
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ForkInTheRoad

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Omexa, I am not the seller of that watch. Mine is a serial number 7313...the one online is 8265. I mentioned to reference the discussion.
 

Omexa

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OK but you still cannot mention a live Auction. On the plus side Lynchnobius, seems to have come up with a Date. "John Houghton Johnson. He lived only to the age of 28 (1808-1836), but this watch may well date from his lifetime (middle to late 1820s, I would guess), and so there is no reason why he should not be the John Johnson named on the movement." Regards Ray
 
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gmorse

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Hi ForkInTheRoad,

This picture confirms that there's no date letter, and combined with the odd shapes of some of the marks, I conclude that these hallmarks are not English. However, that doesn't mean that the case is not precious metal, just that it wasn't assayed in any of the English offices.

Regards,

Graham
 

MartyR

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I now have to agree with Oliver when he disagreed with me about the hallmarks :whistle:

The crown is clearly wrong, and the lack of a date mark anywhere is conclusive. I have to say that the Chester and crowned leopard's marks are the best fakes I have ever seen!

And with my Moderator hat on, Omexa is right to say that referring to a live auction is prohibited on the board. Since the auction is ending today, I will leave the references in place, but ask ForkInTheRoad not to do that again, please.
 

PapaLouies

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I am aware of but one listing for John Houghton. In the Liverpool Horology Database, under the name of Joseph Johnson included in Additional Information is the following: "Toxteth Chapel (Liverpool)-John Houghton baptized 21/8/1808".

Oliver stating that John Houghton is a Johnson does not make it so.

Given the statement by Glen, Joseph Johnson's great, great, great, great grandson, that Joseph Johnson's mother was a Houghton, would make it more likely that John Houghton, baptized while in the care of the Johnson family, would be the son of one of Joseph's uncles.

Where is the Church record of the baptism of John Houghton, which would include the date of his baptism, the Church name, his name, the names of his parents, his date of birth, the abode of his parents and the occupation of his father?

Regards,

PL
 

Keith R...

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My research so far, says PL's third paragraph is on the mark, from his post#20, (and I'm a John Johnson
owner/researcher).

Keith
 

novicetimekeeper

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Liverpool was heavily bombed in WWII, it may be that many records were lost.
 

Lychnobius

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I am aware of but one listing for John Houghton. In the Liverpool Horology Database, under the name of Joseph Johnson included in Additional Information is the following: "Toxteth Chapel (Liverpool)-John Houghton baptized 21/8/1808".

Oliver stating that John Houghton is a Johnson does not make it so . . .
I think, PapaLouies, you could have managed to express this less discourteously if you had put your mind to it.

My source for the name and identity of John Houghton Johnson is an e-mail from Ms. Glen Groombridge-Nixon of New Zealand (presumably the same 'Glen' whom you - understandably, I must say - seem to take for a man) to John Meyer, which John has forwarded to me; she lists this John as the eldest of the nine children of Joseph Johnson and Mary Johnson, née Bryers. (Joseph Johnson II, born 1821, was the eighth child and third son; an earlier Joseph had died in infancy the previous year.) She does not give the exact dates of birth or details of baptism for these children, but she is (I understand) a professional genealogist as well as a Johnson descendant, and I see no reason for assuming that her statements are not supported by evidence. I hope to make contact with her shortly and may perhaps be able to obtain fuller details.

I agree that the interval of only five months between the marriage of Joseph Johnson and the baptism of John Houghton is an anomaly, but there are several possible explanations of this, including the fact that conception before wedlock is not quite as modern an invention as is sometimes imagined. I will not speculate.

Oliver Mundy.
 
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PapaLouies

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I imagine in 1808 Liverpool, like America, the middle name of the first born son was the maiden name of the mother. Often, the middle name was chosen due to consideration of inheritance and , therefore, the maiden name of the mother or the maiden name of the paternal grandmother was chosen. The answer to this question of whether John was a Houghton or a Johnson lies within the records of Toxteth Chapel (Liverpool).

Regards,

PL
 

novicetimekeeper

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I imagine in 1808 Liverpool, like America, the middle name of the first born son was the maiden name of the mother. Often, the middle name was chosen due to consideration of inheritance and , therefore, the maiden name of the mother or the maiden name of the paternal grandmother was chosen. The answer to this question of whether John was a Houghton or a Johnson lies within the records of Toxteth Chapel (Liverpool).

Regards,

PL
Is that the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth? I looked up churches in Toxteth and there were very few iin the earlt 19th century but that one was there since the late 17th century. It closed early in the 20th century around the time of the Great War so the records would be in Liverpool Record office.
 

PapaLouies

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Hi John,

I notice the tag in the photo three right indicates the hallmarks are Chester 1802 0r 1824. With the Massey I escapement it could not be 1802.

Regards,

PL
 

Keith R...

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To refresh us on the American case maker, who has given us loads of head scratching
over the years.

Keith

7771HM (180x200).jpg
 

John Pavlik

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PL, 1801/1802 in London & Chester is an F in a square... Usually changed mid year as I understand it. The duty mark is the fooler.. The tag is just a possibility based on letter hallmark, but done way before much of this H&S research was completed.. Interesting point on hallmarks on this one, no mark on pendant or bow.. Could be tell tale as to where it was made... It is very definitely a Massey I ....
 

PapaLouies

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Hi Nick,

Thanks for the information on the Toxteth Chapels. I'm referring to the Toxteth Chapel shown as the source of the baptism of John Houghton 21/8/1808 under the name of Joseph Johnson in the Liverpool Horology Database, put on the net by a former curator of the Liverpool Museum.

Regards,

PL
 

Lychnobius

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I did not realise there were also Houghtons (a name which occurs several times in the Johnson records) among the Liverpool watchmakers.

In regard to the hallmarks and Graham's comment thereon: - I believe this is the first time these spurious marks, with the anachronistic King's head, have turned up on a case which is silver rather than gold and has no chased decoration.

At least on this occasion it cannot be argued that the date-letter stands for 1802, since Massey's series of escapements did not appear until 1814.

Oliver Mundy.
 

PapaLouies

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I think, PapaLouies, you could have managed to express this less discourteously if you had put your mind to it.

My source for the name and identity of John Houghton Johnson is an e-mail from Ms. Glen Groombridge-Nixon of New Zealand (presumably the same 'Glen' whom you - understandably, I must say - seem to take for a man) to John Meyer, which John has forwarded to me; she lists this John as the eldest of the nine children of Joseph Johnson and Mary Johnson, née Bryers. (Joseph Johnson II, born 1821, was the eighth child and third son; an earlier Joseph had died in infancy the previous year.) She does not give the exact dates of birth or details of baptism for these children, but she is (I understand) a professional genealogist as well as a Johnson descendant, and I see no reason for assuming that her statements are not supported by evidence. I hope to make contact with her shortly and may perhaps be able to obtain fuller details.

I agree that the interval of only five months between the marriage of Joseph Johnson and the baptism of John Houghton is an anomaly, but there are several possible explanations of this, including the fact that conception before wedlock is not quite as modern an invention as is sometimes imagined. I will not speculate.

Oliver Mundy.
My apologies, Oliver,

I had no intention of being disrespectful by stating that "Oliver stating that John Houghton is a Johnson does not make it so".
This old yank is not much for decorum. I've seen but one source for John Houghton's baptism of 21/08/1808 while in the care of Joseph and Mary Johnson and that is in the Liverpool Horology Database under the name of Joseph Johnson.
Until I've seen the published record of John's baptism at Toxteth Chapel Liverpool I remain unconvinced he was a Johnson and not a Houghton.

Regards,

PL
 
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Dael

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I have a feeling that it is a Chester hallmark "the mark for Chester is a shield bearing the town's arms, a sword and three sheaves of wheat."

"
Its marks were similar to those of London hallmarked silver and the sequence of date letters followed in alphabetical order. The Chester assay office closed down in 1962"

You can see the Chester gold hallmark here:
https://theassayoffice.co.uk/help-with-hallmarks/current-and-historic-assay-offices
 

gmorse

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Hi Dael,

That is certainly intended to represent a Chester town mark, but please see some earlier posts in this thread, #5, #6, #10 and #17.

Regards,

Graham
 

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