J Wilson / Stamford -- request for help

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by jboger, May 30, 2020.

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  1. jboger

    jboger Registered User

    Jan 7, 2019
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    I've spotted a fusee that I'm somewhat interested in. It's a verge, and judging by the shape of the balance cock, it dates from the 1830s. It's a front wind. Everything shouts that it's Continental in origin including the case. I think it was a cheap import. It's signed in script J Wilson / Stamford.

    Now there is a Stamford in Connecticut, and there is one in Lincolnshire, UK. I've checked my US sources and I do not find any Stamford Wilsons involved in the watch or silversmith trades. I'm inclined to think this may be a Lincolnshire Wilson. If anyone has time, I surely would love to have someone check his or her (as the case may be) UK sources.

    I don't have photographs as I examined the watch in person. The case is missing the bezel that holds the glass. I think the case is marked with pseudo hallmarks, but not sure.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    John B
     
  2. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    There seem to have been a few in Stamfod, Lincolnshire, so perhaps a family. JT listed as early 19th century.
     
  3. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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  4. jboger

    jboger Registered User

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    Gentlemen:

    Given the information you provided, I now conclude this is a UK watch, probably Joseph Wilson. The cock has an engraved grotesque face, and the barrel bridge is also completely engraved with tight scrolls and small flowers, work that seems atypical for English watches. Also winding hole in front. Correct me if I'm wrong. I think these features are not common on English watches. I'd be more interested if it had the bezel.

    Thanks for the research! Very, very much appreciated.

    John
     
  5. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    I would have thought that particularly by the middle to end of the first quarter of the 19th century that any continental influences brought by Huguenots would have given way to English style. However I don't know. Wilson doesn't strike me as a Huguenot name either.
     
  6. jboger

    jboger Registered User

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    It just occurred to me that, when looking at the watch, I should have looked at how the end shake was handled on the crown wheel. if I recall correctly, the English manner was to use an adjustable plug to set the endshake whereas the Continental technique was to use a screw. If I had looked, that would have been most informative. Ah well, I didn't.
     
  7. Lychnobius

    Lychnobius Registered User

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    Yes, that would have been a good test: more so than the decorated balance-bridge, which is not unknown in England in the 1840s and 1850s. (Similarly, front-winding is not altogether unparalleled at this period.) I once had an Olivier Quartier verge of about 1840 which, while making no secret of its origin in Le Locle, aped the English style in almost every other way, complete with three-dimensional engraving on the cock and Gothic lettering on the barrel-bridge, both features being close echoes of Liverpool practice – but it did show the Swiss-style outer potence for the crown-wheel arbor, with the two tiny screws instead of the English plug. Here is the back-plate.

    Oliver Mundy.

    quartier2_03.jpg
     
  8. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi John, If you go to the John Dison thread on here, you will see many of these English watches, wound from the front, and none of them had a glass.

    Best wishes on your search,

    Allan.
     
  9. jboger

    jboger Registered User

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    Allan: I took look at the Dison thread.No glass, no bezel. I thought all hunters had a bezel, so this is new to me.
     
  10. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    All I can say John is buy the watch, you never know the hallmarks could be Sheffield, they are very rare on watch cases, there is one in the John Dison thread. Good hunting,

    Allan.
     
  11. Andrew Wilde

    Andrew Wilde Registered User
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    Not really a surprise that front-wind hunters were often bezel/glass-less. Given the necessary thinness of inner glass and therefore its fragility, having a design that required opening the front and the bezel every day to wind the watch would have been asking for trouble (so I would have thought)
     
  12. eri231

    eri231 Registered User

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    two examples of hunter without bezel. the first signed by Joseph Marshall working in Lincoln from 1828 to 1835, but I'm not sure about this.
    the second by William Reed Bristol 1814 a lever escapement.

    regards enrico

    IMG_2832.JPG IMG_2835.JPG IMG_2829.JPG IMG_2831.JPG
     
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  13. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Two nice watches there Enrico, The first one seems to have a Chester hallmark, the other is London 1814 as said. I take it the second one is converted, it also has a dust cap, which is very rare with this type of watch.

    Regards,

    Allan.

    Edit.

    Andrew, these watches are in the main full hunter cases, though there are half hunters with a small glass in the dial cover.
     
  14. jboger

    jboger Registered User

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    Folks:

    I repeat that bezel-less hunters are new to me. Well, not totally new to me as I've seen plenty of cases that most certainly had snap-on bezels at one time but now no longer. For the most part those have been US watches. I recall at one outdoor market a fellow had hundreds of these bezels for sale, which in turn meant there were hundreds of bezel-less cases. Can we be certain that the illustrated watches simply hadn't lost their snap-on bezels long ago? (Side question: Did snap-on bezels even exist in the early 19th C?) No disrespect intended by asking this.

    John B

    My own edit a few minutes later. I looked more closely at some of Enrcio's watches. When closed, the cases have no room for a bezel. That looks like that answers my own question. JB
     
  15. Andrew Wilde

    Andrew Wilde Registered User
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    Hi Allan - I know. My point was that for a front/dial-wind full hunter, a glass under the front cover is simply asking for trouble, given that the bezel would have to be opened daily to wind the watch. Rear or crown wound full hunter, not a problem, which is why majority of these have an inner glass, and the majority of front wound full hunters don't. Am I missing something ?
     
  16. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi Andrew, we have both missed something. it´s that old story "Never say Never" I saw this on the auction house, and waited till sold, then put it on hear.

    100.4.jpg 100-5.jpg It would appear the watchmaker R.I.G Richard & R. Joseph Grove, Vineyard Walk, Clerkenwell, decided to put an extra hinge in there for a glass. (Date letter "M" for London 1807/8) I had never seen this before. I had always thought (and still do) that winding through the dial was more convenient without the glass, and the case to save on metal. (Of course, seen on the common English full hunter watches)

    we live and learn Andrew.

    Best wishes,

    Allan
     
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  17. jboger

    jboger Registered User

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    In a moment of weakness, I bought the watch. Now I must suffer the consequences. When I had examined the watch in hand, I applied light pressure to the contrate wheel, and the balance oscillated rather freely. I did not try that in all positions, and still can't until I pick it up. But hope springs eternal in the human breast.

    The case seems to have true hallmarks, and they seem to be for 1780. Either that or 1890. I think the watch dates to about 1820-30 judging by the balance, so a recase seems a possibility.

    A picture says a thousand words. Thoughts?

    603185980_fl.jpeg
     
  18. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    The leopard has a crown so it must be prior to 1822, thus the most probable date, given the Bosley regulator, is 1820/21. The fluted decoration on the pendant and bow would match this as well. Can you clarify the maker's/sponsor's mark in the centre, please, or is this only what the vendor provided?

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  19. jboger

    jboger Registered User

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    Graham:

    I want to combine a car trip to the auction site with another trip to York, Pa. That'll be Friday, a no-work day for me. The date letter is a lower case e. The fluted pendant is odd to me. I thought the various features might be Continental in origin. Now I learn otherwise. Sorry for the wait. Full pictures will come at the first opportunity. But I do have one more from the vendor:



    John

    603185971_fl.jpeg
     
  20. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    The half hunter case, I think would indicate a re-case. Though why worry, its a very nice case.

    Allan
     
  21. jboger

    jboger Registered User

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    Some pictures of the watch now in my hands.

    The makers mark is either script WL or TM. If this case dates to 1780, were such script maker's marks in use at that time? I lean towards TM. The movement is a very good fit to this case. The movement is completely wound down. There are four tight loops about the barrel, and the chain is still attached. I believe this watch would run right now were I to give it even a slight wind.

    Are we looking at an old re-case, something done while the watch was still in daily use? Curious it's such a good fit, and that someone found the right case for this movement. I see no evidence of a plugged hole in the back where a winding hole may have at one time existed.

    John

    IMG_1014.jpg IMG_1015.jpg
     
  22. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    John

    I believe, as Graham suggested the hallmark is London 1820/21. This is confirmed by the TM that being the mark of Thomas Milliar, first registered 30 July, 1808 and re-registered on two further dates due to change of address. From 20 August, 1819 his address was 24 Bartholomew Terrace, Brick Lane, London. The signature will be that of Joseph Wilson as indicated above.

    John
     
  23. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    I think this is likely; if the letters are read the other way up, as 'M?', the second letter doesn't correspond to anything. However, I can't find Milliar in Jacksons. (Script maker's marks weren't that common, but do appear). One small problem with Priestley is that the marks are rendered in modern fonts rather than images of the marks as struck.

    If the case is 1820, it is consistent with the style of the movement, so unlikely to be a re-case.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  24. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Graham - I did check ...

    Grimwade lists the incuse mark of Thomas Milliar as TM script p.321. I now use Grimwade or Culme to check hallmarks as they are considerably more informative and reliable.

    John
     
  25. jboger

    jboger Registered User

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    Well, I'll be . . . I completely missed 1820/21 when I looked up the year! I saw 1780 and 1900 (mistakenly wrote 1890 above) for a lower case e; I completely overlooked 1820. My gosh, this is the kind of mistake I like to make. No wonder the movement fits the case so well. I was so sure it was a re-case (by that type of balance cock being inconsistent with either 1780 or 1900) that I glossed right over Graham's comments. Many thanks to both of you.

    By the way, it does run. I gave the slightest turn to the fusee cone, and that set the balance in motion. No more fiddling until I dismantle and clean.
     
  26. jboger

    jboger Registered User

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    One thing I like about the NWACC forums (I want to write fora) is that discussions of value are verboten. That keeps the focus on these interesting items, not on the market. Rarity and value are two different things. Value (I mean market value) is driven by supply and demand. An object may be rare, but if little demand, the price may be low.

    This sort of watch is new to me. From the start I thought the watch had been re-cased. Which is to say I bought it primarily for the movement as I have nothing like it. I also did not especially go looking for one, as I only buy things that show up in my local area. I also thought the watch was Continental and made for the English market. I have the sense that this sort of front-wind hunter is not that common for an English watch. Nor the overly-engraved plates. Nor the case. Nor the bow. The finish on the plates seems to be entirely English, and the contrate wheel's endshake is handled by a plug in the English manner.

    My next statement may be wrong, and, if so, please correct me. I can see the pinion on the contrate wheel's arbor. The grooves do not cut into the arbor. That seems to me English as well. If I'm not mistaken, it seems Continental watches often have a pinion's grooves cut into the arbor, which, although effective, is not particularly attractive to my way of thinking. But I may be wrong. US watches seem to follow the English practice of having a well-defined pinion. I hope I'm clear.

    So, separate from the question of value, is this sort of movement and case relatively less common that the majority of English fusees?

    John
     
  27. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    Yes, front-wind English watches of any variety aren't common, but the level and extent of engraving on balance cocks, slide plates and barrel bars varies so widely that you really can't generalise about it as a possible national characteristic. Hunter cases without glasses and bezels are regarded as early. The decoration on the case is typical of many decorative objects produced during the 'Regency' period, not just watches. By the way, although the Bosley regulator was invented in the 1750s, it's very rarely found much before the very end of the 18th century, and its predecessor, the 'Tompion' disc regulator, continued to be fitted into the 1820s.

    You're right, good English practice was to stop the pinion at a suitable length and not leave any marks on the arbor, polishing both ends, and usually undercutting, (although this was supposed to prevent oil migration onto the pinion leaves, it was mostly just to show off the skill of the craftsman).

    Yes, relatively less common.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  28. JTD

    JTD Registered User

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    Not any more they're not. Rules were changed recently so that values may be discussed in the threads and the 'What's this clock/watch worth' sections were abolished.

    The only thing we can't do is discuss values of watches on current auctions or sales.

    JTD
     
  29. jboger

    jboger Registered User

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    Thanks, Graham. And JTD, thanks for the update. Personally, I don't want to discuss value. There are other means to find such information.

    With regard to this watch, here are the demerits: (1) it's missing the dust cap and (2) the lift spring to pop the lid open is completely gone. The other spring is present, it works, and the catch keeps the lid closed. If I could choose between these two, I'd like to have the dust cap.

    In terms of knowledge gained, this watch has been worth it. I'd like to thank John M and Graham for sharing their experience, and of course to everyone else who responded.

    John
     
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