Identifying a watch - Samuel?

rsdc

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I'm trying to identify a watch from my grandfather — the box he left it in includes a letter from the 1970s in which he is trying to identify it and believes it is an "L.H. Samuel" from Liverpool.

The watch itself has an engraving of several buildings on the front and of another on the back. On the inside of the case, it reads "30255" on one line, with "2" below it.

Any help IDing the maker and time period would be much appreciated!

watch-front1.jpg watch-back1.jpg watch-inside1.jpg
 

gmorse

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Hi rsdc, and welcome to the forum,

Any help IDing the maker and time period would be much appreciated!
A clear picture of the movement would be very helpful in identifying your watch. In your third picture, the movement is covered by a cap, which you can remove by sliding the blue steel crescent-shaped piece clockwise to unlock it, when it will just lift off.

It appears to be an English movement but the lack of hallmarks in the case suggests that it may have been exported to the US as an un-cased movement and cased locally on arrival, which was a common occurrence in the 19th century.

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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1615192604633.png

Like Graham, I think we could help you more with a photograph of the watch movement, with clear photographs of any names or marks on there.

I have put the above on here, which shows a graphic of the Crystal Palace in 1851, it could be that the engraving on the back of your watch case, was an impression of what the engraver thought it looked like.? Looking forward to the photographs, (Note the American flag)

Regards,

Allan.
 
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rsdc

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Thank you Graham and Allan — I've opened the case to see the movement. It does say Liverpool, L.H. Samuel & Co., Patent, and 30255:

IMG_0217.jpg
 

gmorse

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Hi rsdc,

Lewis Henry Samuel & Co. are listed by Loomes at South Castle Street, Liverpool, 1848-1851, but there's no mention of whether they were involved in manufacturing or simply retailing. Very few English watches were signed for the actual makers; watch manufacture was a collaborative effort between many specialist craftspeople, as many as 40 or 50 making contributions, and the Liverpool area was one of the major English watchmaking centres, the others being Coventry and London. The majority of signatures are for the retailers, although there were what we would recognise as factories supplying cases as well as movements later in the 19th century.

There was a particular Liverpool style of movement, and this is a typical example, in the engraving and the characteristic large jewels, known as 'Liverpool Windows'. The word 'Patent' on the balance cock foot may refer to the specific type of escapement fitted, (patented by Edward Massey in 1814), but there are examples where this was just a marketing ploy and didn't necessarily refer to any patented features. The design does fit quite well into the 1840s to 1850s period.

I believe that the building with the dome engraved on the case may be the 1853 New York Crystal Palace, or perhaps the Capitol Building in Washington.

Regards,

Graham
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Lewis Henry Samuel is listed quite often in the Liverpool directories, for example, 1853 which you will find free on the net. He was then living at number 2, Cumberland Terrace, and his workshop, was at 60, South Castle-street, Liverpool ( Was till 1836 Pool Lane) At 61, was the famous chronometer makers Sewell´s. Henry is also listed as a Watch Manufacturer, and in the main, the manufacturers at that time were in fact the finishers, much like the firm of Robert Roskell, and other firms in Liverpool who dominated the watch industry of England from 1800.

Best Wishes,

Allan.
 

svenedin

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Lovely movement which appears to be in excellent condition. Can't see any corrosion anywhere. Well done for letting us see.
 

John Matthews

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To correct the listing in Loomes.

There is no record of L H Samuel & Co. in the 1835 trade directories. The first listings are in 1837, one directory has the address of 14 South Castle Street, a second at 38. From 1839 the address is consistently at 60 South Castle Street. This address is recorded until 1851. The listing in 1853 is L H Samuel (no Co.) There is no member of the Samuel family listed at that address in the trade directory of 1855.

John
 

Allan C. Purcell

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There are bound to be little mistakes, like mistaking Louis Samuel & Co with Louis Henry Samuel. One, been the father of the other, Louis Samuel was in the1821 directory as watch-maker address 14, Castle ditch, another mistake, not14, Castle-street. His Shop then was 41 Castle Street. I would also say confusion with this family is bound to happen, when you read Samuel Brothers & Company Watch-Makers, at 31, Castle-street. (on the same list in the 1821 directory). This family needs to be researched, they were after all in the watch trade for a hundred years at Liverpool, before moving to Manchester,. You may find this hard to believe, but the 1832 and 1835 directories, posted to me on the 4th of March are still at the customs house in Frankfurt. When they do arrive I just might do some research on the watchmaking Samuels of Liverpool.

Allan.
 

John Matthews

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It is the New York Crystal Palace
It certainly could be the New York Crystal Palace, which was built for the exhibition of 1853 and destroyed by fire in 1858.

If it is the engraving, the case is unlikely to be before 1853, which is interesting in regard to the signature on the movement and the trade directory entries I quoted.

However, I have a record of a another example with the same signature and similar engraving on the case. The identification of that engraving is described as The Capital, Washington, prior to its re-modelling in the 1850's. So on balance, subject to some verification from the historians on your side of the pond, I think this is more likely.

If you have a photograph of the inside of the case, it may have marks that will identify the case maker. Also, if the cap has any marks stamped on the inside, these could be the marks of the cap maker, which can also provide further information.

John
 
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Les harland

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I think I may have confused Alan's picture with the one on the case
To make life interesting there were two Crystal Palaces London and New York
The London one was slightly earlier and was the inspiration for the US one
Both burnt down
 

rsdc

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Thank you all for the insights so far — I'm studying the old drawings to see if a view of Crystal Palace or the old Capitol could be the inspiration.

On the inside of the case is just the same number as on the mechanism: 30255 — though it looks like that may be inserted into an outer layer that I cannot uncover (seeing the small hole on that case layer)
 

gmorse

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Hi rsdc,

...though it looks like that may be inserted into an outer layer that I cannot uncover (seeing the small hole on that case layer)
If the case is built on the same lines as an English case of the same period, what you see with the winding hole in it is the dome, an inner cover fixed to the case body or band. The outer back of the case will be hinged to the band and should have a small lip where you can prise it open with a thumbnail. That will reveal whatever is stamped on the inside of that lid; it has to open in order to wind the watch without swinging out the movement every time!

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Strange how things turn out sometimes, today a book arrived from the Uk "Thomas Cole & Victorian Clockmaking" written by J.B.Hawkins. The author took on a great deal when Living in Sydney. It must be said he did Thomas Cole proud. Thomas was the brother of the more famous James Fergason Cole. Though that is another story, what is of interest here is when researching Thomas Cole, he tells us that Thomas exhibited his clocks and watches at the 1851 Crystal Palace exhibition of 1851. Not only did he record the Cole stall he tells us about all the Horological pieces at the exhibition. I must say I was not surprised to find Dent and Charles Frodsham there, those two alone take up two pages, also Barraud & Lund, Brockbank & Atkins. My surprise was seeing Thomas Yates of Preston, M: I. Tobias. of Liverpool. We all know about Yates slow beat, but do Tobias fans know about "Registered compound-seconds watch movement, a new configuration produced by combining a quarter. seconds train of wheels with an independent full-seconds train, in such a manner as to cause the seconds hand of the independent second's train to perform one revolution in the same space of time that the quarter-seconds train is performing four revolutions." Among others. There's a lady´s watch with the same movement. He does this for the 1855 and 1862 exhibitions too.

I also received a note from the post, saying I could collect a parcel from the post office at 10.00 Hrs tomorrow. I think that could be one of the directories, they do that because you will have to pay for the custom charge. (VAT)

Allan

d1-44.jpg Les, you are quite right, the photo I posted was from the American exhibition 1853. This one is London 1851.
 

rsdc

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Thank you all for walking me through how to unpeel the layers of the watch step by step. Inside the back of the case, it's marked S&S and 30255 (the same number that's on the mechanism), and 18 (karat gold, I presume?) :

watch-backcase.jpg

Any sense of how common a watch like this would have been?

thanks!
 

gmorse

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Hi rsdc,

Any sense of how common a watch like this would have been?
There was a considerable export trade based in Liverpool of uncased movements to the US where they were cased. This was influenced by the higher customs duties imposed in the US on complete watches in precious metal cases, so it's quite common to find Liverpool movements in US cases, many of them with some elaborate engraved decoration. The gold dials with engine turning and engraved scenes in the centres were quite fashionable in the middle of the 19th century, some of them with more than a hint of Continental influence in the architecture.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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I believe your case was made by Savoye & Son, New York. I have seen the mark S&S on ornate gold cases containing imported movements that carry the signature Savoye & Son. Others may be familiar with the Savoye family, they are listed in New York directories from 1839 as watch case makers and watch importers.

John
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Any sense of how common a watch like this would have been?
rscd, Up to say c1760s, watches in America were those brought over by immigrants or were watches handed down through families. (Much like yours). There were of course efforts to make watches in the states, and there are books enough to tell you the stories. Actual numbers of imported watches that increased over the years up to the 1850s are only estimates, not only were there British clocks and watches, the French, Dutch, Swiss, and Germans also imported watches to America. To give you an idea of what was going on from 1814 to 1836 there is a thread called "The Book" I put on here. (See below).
It is a record of Osborne & Wright´s repair shop in New York. This was only one shop, and there were many more, and not only in New York. I think you will find it of interest.

Note. Do not be put out with the first five or six pages on Roskell watches, that will be explained as you go through the pages.


Allan.
 

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John Matthews

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Others may be familiar with the Savoye family
I have done a little research.

Ulysse Savoye was a relatively early American case maker and has the distinction of having as his apprentice, Joseph Fahys. In fact the foundation of Joseph Fahys & Co, in 1857, was at the point when Joseph purchased Savoye's business. An internet search will prove rewarding.

Worth looking out for the S&S mark on ornate American gold cases made between ~1830 and ~1850. They can be found housing both English and Continental movements, some of which carry the Savoye signature, others, as with this example, do not.

John
 

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