• The Bulletins and Marts are again available online. The network connectivity problem has been fixed. Thank you all very much for your patience.

19th c Identify Interesting Early Liverpool Fusee

Royal

NAWCC Member
Jun 18, 2010
65
10
8
North Carolina
Country
Region
Found this interesting piece in an estate collection. Comes with an interesting story. Was found by a Civil War soldier on battleground. He pawned it to another soldier and never went back to pay off the loan. That person was told by another soldier who the original owner was. He was reported to be a wealthy young man from NY who was drugged and kidnapped and sent to war as a "substitute." The young man wanted to go to war anyway and didn't resist further. He was later reported as killed in battle. The person who held the watch as collateral (grandfather of the estate holder where I found it) tried to find the family but could not. So... it ended up in a Vermont estate. I haven't figured out Grandpa's unit yet, but will. Anyway a fun piece in really nice condition. Wants to run. Particularly interested if the watch was cased in England or the US. I'm guessing US.

IMG_0057.JPG IMG_0053.JPG IMG_0052.JPG IMG_0051.JPG IMG_0050.JPG IMG_0049.JPG
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,917
2,391
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi rbarn64850,
Wants to run. Particularly interested if the watch was cased in England or the US. I'm guessing US.
The few hallmarks certainly aren't English, and since a great many watches were exported from Liverpool as uncased movements to avoid US customs duties, it's most probable that it was cased in the US on arrival; the style of the case and its decoration are fairly typical.

As for it being early, well, it depends where you want to start. It dates from the 1830s or 40s and is a fusee lever, but watches were being made in the Liverpool area from at least the early 17th century. The signature on the top plate is rather similar to the famous Joseph Johnson, (no 'e'), of which much has been written here and elsewhere. The name may appear in some Liverpool street or trade directories, but it isn't in Loomes, and this may be what could be charitably termed as a 'tribute piece' if you didn't want to call it a counterfeit. Most names on English watches are for the vendors anyway and no one person ever made an entire watch from start to finish.

It has some of the characteristics of Liverpool movements, but the execution is somewhat approximate and it may have been made, or at least finished, in Coventry. It isn't clear from the pictures whether the balance endstone is intact, possibly an effect of the lighting but it should be a diamond. It does need a good clean, which will allow you to look at its internal condition if you do it yourself.

Good luck in your search for its provenance.

Regards,

Graham
 

musicguy

Moderator
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Sponsor
Jan 12, 2017
8,357
4,823
113
New York State
Country
The case does not look American to me, can you post
clear photos of the Hallmarks.


Thanks
Rob
 

John Matthews

NAWCC Member
Sep 22, 2015
3,173
1,514
113
France
Country
Region
Nor 't'.

Like Graham I suspect that while frame may have been from Lancashire, the movement was probably finished in Coventry. It may have passed through Liverpool, at least the docks at the start of its passage to America, but I doubt if it spent any time with Liverpool watch makers. I did check a few directories, no Johnstones that I could find listed as watch makers. Joseph Johnstone was a relatively uncommon name in Liverpool at the time. I did find one listed as the Belgium Consul in 1853. So like Graham I think this was a movement signed in a manner to deceive American buyers that it was made by a watchmaker in Liverpool. From the style and the case marks I agree likely to be a movement cased in America possibly with a dial that was made in continental Europe.

If the dust cap has a maker's mark on the inside, a photograph of that and clearer photographs of the case marks, might provide further clues.

John
 
Jul 29, 2019
248
371
63
50
Country
Here another Johnstone and all that Ive found about.

222222-700x700.jpg

The case of the watch have the same number like the watch and london hallmarks 1854 and i saw another watches by "Johnstone" and Johnstone&Co.

 
  • Like
Reactions: Ethan Lipsig

Allan C. Purcell

NAWCC Member
Feb 9, 2013
3,102
1,261
113
Germany
Country
Region
J. Johnstone & Co. New York, 1820- )Listed in Lommes book "Watchmakers and clockmaker of the world (complete 21st-century edition page 427)

Johnstone J.H. & co. New York, 1820.

There is also Johnstone Liverpool 1865. Plus if you look, there are 78 other watchmakers of that name. There is also a James Johnstone of Liverpool 1789. Plus, John Johnstone of Charleston (USA) 1764. So plenty of research for you there.

Good Luck,

Allan.
 

John Cote

Director
NAWCC Member
Aug 26, 2000
4,569
1,119
113
Midwest USA
www.johncotephotography.com
Country
Region
Here are a few better images of the case markings or lack thereof. Thank you everyone for your input. Much appreciated
It sure looks like an American made to look British case to me. It is certainly an interesting piece of American watch retailing history.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Royal

Royal

NAWCC Member
Jun 18, 2010
65
10
8
North Carolina
Country
Region
It sure looks like an American made to look British case to me. It is certainly an interesting piece of American watch retailing history.
I found this bit of information on the internet.
Loomes (a standard reference book for "watchmakers") does list a J H Johnstone & Co operating in New York in around 1820. The name of that company suggests that it was an operating company set up in New York to act simply as a broker who brought in movements from J Johnstone in Liverpool and had them cased in America - Loomes also lists a James Johnstone working in Liverpool in 1789, and he could be the real maker of the movement
UPDATE: THE POST WAS ACTUALLY HERE ON THE NAWCC FOREIGN FORUM FROM MAY OF 2016 BY "OMEXA"
 
Last edited:

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,917
2,391
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi rbarn64850,
Loomes also lists a James Johnstone working in Liverpool in 1789, and he could be the real maker of the movement
That's unlikely, since your watch is signed for a Joseph Johnstone, and these watches were rarely if ever signed for their actual 'makers'. They were always the product of a large group of specialist craftspeople, some of whom may have worked directly for the signatory but most of them were probably self-employed 'sub-contractors', and the signature was usually for the vendor.

Regards,

Graham
 
  • Like
Reactions: Royal

Allan C. Purcell

NAWCC Member
Feb 9, 2013
3,102
1,261
113
Germany
Country
Region
I knew I had one of these odd watches somewhere, and it has taken a while to find it.


99999-1.JPG Thought I might start with the signature, I can't remember seeing this type of signature used before, though I would say another proof of a fake watch coming out of Coventry?

99999-2.JPG Nice looking movement, which is in a silver case hallmarked for London. The word PATENT is written on the dial alone, which is quite odd, the watch is a Massey III.

99999-4.JPG The hallmarks for London 1832, the TG being for Thomas Greves, 17, Camomile Street., London

99999-3.JPG Inside the dust cap, is just the number 23, the last two numbers of the serial number 9023.

99999-5.JPG The hands I think are replacements, changed later in America.

Something to look at. I also found a John Johnstone in London, working from 1828 to 1832. (Loomes- 427)

Allan.
 
  • Like
Reactions: zacandy

Forum statistics

Threads
169,694
Messages
1,481,171
Members
49,098
Latest member
Heresolong
Encyclopedia Pages
1,060
Total wiki contributions
2,965
Last update
-