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J.E. Dickinson, Newcastle on Tyne, The Elswick Lever

irishbogs

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Oct 24, 2021
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My late father, a horologist and jeweler, and long time member of the NAWCC, left behind some pocket watches.

One of them says, on the dial: "The Elswick Lever" and "J.E. Dickinson. Newcastle on Tyne." It has a key that winds it, through a "hole" visible under the inside of the back lid.

The inside back lid has the number 536133 and several "marks". His notes say that the movement has # 221989.

I can't find any information on the internet about this watchmaker. My father's notes say he thought it was made in about 1779. I don't know how or why he thought that.

Any ideas of the age of this watch? Does it have any significant value, monetarily or from a horological perspective? If so, I was thinking of donating it to the NAWCC museum. Any thoughts? I just don't know if this is a rare or common old watch.

Any insights or advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

John

clock 3.jpg clock 4.jpg clock 5.jpg clock 6.jpg clock 1.jpg clock 2.jpg
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi John, and welcome to the forum,
Any ideas of the age of this watch? Does it have any significant value, monetarily or from a horological perspective? If so, I was thinking of donating it to the NAWCC museum. Any thoughts? I just don't know if this is a rare or common old watch.
The hallmarks in the silver watch case show that it was assayed in the Birmingham assay office in 1903/4, so not 1779 I'm afraid. The London date letter for 1779 also happens to be a 'd', but the assay office mark of an anchor is for Birmingham, and each assay office had its own distinct series of date letters. Anyway, the styles of the case, dial and hands are consistent with 1903, but if you can open the inner case and post some pictures of the movement it will help. The inner back may be hinged at the 12 o'clock position just under the pendant. If it isn't hinged but appears to be fixed, the movement will swing out once the front bezel holding the crystal is removed and a catch at 6 o'clock is pressed in.

The sponsor's mark is for William Ehrhardt Limited in Barr Street, West Hockley, Birmingham, who almost certainly made the movement as well in their factory.

The name on the dial is for the vendor who was probably a jeweller who would have ordered the watch from Ehrhardt with their name on the dial.

The watch is a product of one of the large makers who used mass-production factory methods to manufacture watches, in an attempt to compete with the American and Swiss imports which were effectively swamping the market at the time and would lead to the final demise of the English watch-making industry a little later in the 20th century.

The watch is of interest to some collectors but its monetary value will reflect the fact that it is a factory-made example of modest quality which were made in large numbers.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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As Graham has said this watch was made by William Ehrhardt in Birmingham at the beginning of the C20th.

It would be helpful to see the movement. but I am fairly certain that it will be a full plate movement and it probably has a dust cap like this example

1635148700966.png

You can slide the steel securing spring clockwise and carefully remove it to expose the movement.

There were a number of English companies that began to make watches using factory methods in the latter part of the C19th, Ehrhardt, and Dennison based in Birmingham are thought to be the earliest. In all probability Ehrthardt was the first to produce complete watches that were predominantly made by mass production methods. There is evidence that he made movements, cases, pendants and dust caps. At the same time, in respect for some of his older employees, it is said that he also produce watches using traditional methods. It is reported that he made ~500,000 factory made watches in the last quarter of the C19th and the first quarter of the C20th.

While Graham is correct in saying that your example is probably of modest quality and may have only 7 jewels, Ehrhardt made a range of movements in this style, some of the standard movements had compensated balances and additional jewelling. It is also of note that his watches had a number of innovative designs including the winding mechanism and adjustable banking pins. He supplied watches both to the British Army, possibly as early as the Boar War and deck watches for the Admiralty. He entered watches with single roller movements (as your example) in the Kew trials and in competition with watches that were using superior karrusel and tourbillon designs his watches performed remarkably well. He subsequently entered his own karrusel movement and was awarded second place.

His obituary in the Horological Journal of January 1898 includes 'this pioneer among advanced watch manufacturers .... a marked feature of Mr Ehrhardt's work was his early introduction of machinery into his factory ... at present 400 people are employed at the factory and that the production exceeds 500 watches per week.' After his death, management of the company passed to his sons and continued to operate into the 1920s.

In recent years there has been increased interest in these 'modern' English watches and prices have been rising - thanks in part to Peaky Blinders.

John
 

irishbogs

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Graham and John -

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and clearing up a family mystery as to the correct age of this watch. My father has been gone for almost 20 years and this watch has just been sitting in a bank safety deposit box since.

I tried to operate the spring, on inner back lid, but could not get it to pop open to get pictures of the movement. I will visit an area watchmaker, on Saturday, and have him open it - and post follow up pictures late next weekend if it can be opened.

I was hoping that one of my late father's old watches would be of significant age, rarity or value to donate it to the NAWCC museum in his name - but, from what you have shared with me, this does not seem to be of that quality, age, value or rarity.

That leaves three others that might be of more interest - another one that my father had marked as 1) an 18k chain drive fuse, open face gold dial, M.I. Tobias, circa 1830 Liverpool, case/movement # 20222; 2) an 18k 1/4 hour "repeater", Bredillard Geneve, circa 1910; and 3) an 18k Fuzee, circa 1776.

None of those have any markings on the dial and I don't know how to open them - so I will see if the watchmaker I know can open up them so I can get photos and then I can post about them or ask the NAWCC if one of them would be of interest to them.

Thank you again for your kindness and sharing your knowledge. I appreciate it. John Farnan
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi John,

All three of the other watches you've mentioned would be interesting to see, if you could post pictures of them, in separate threads would be best, to avoid confusion. If the third one is really from 1776 and in a gold case, it's likely to be 22 carat, because the 18 carat standard wasn't legal here until 1798.

Regards,

Graham
 

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