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James Ferguson Cole

zacandy

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Is it just me or does one see some lovely if odd items come up for auction sale recently?

This pretty pocket watch for sale by James Ferguson Cole – The English Breguet of course

Lot: 198 - Kinghams Auctioneers & Valuers

The plain un engraved balance cock and the lack of serial number made me laugh as if after a disagreement with a customer. The un engraved cock might annoy a contemporary customer would it not and the lack of serial number make it unsaleable even then?

But apparently this was not usual for him say Clutton and Daniels in their book "Watches". They say of him "misapplied ingenuity"

Pioneer of the Lever Escapement
Friend of Sylvain Mairet – pupil of Breguet

Personally I have no intention of bidding.

Pictures with permission of the auctioneer.

Other reading I can find – Paul Chamberlain – About Time - the best source it seems
and Horological Journal – May June 1930 from the AHS website

Does anyone have any thoughts / comments please?

Are there any other sources about this fascinating maker? Considering his amazing if small output there seems little in print about him.

Thanks

Andrew

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novicetimekeeper

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I'm afraid you can't start this while the item is for sale and you need permission from the auction house to use the pictures. If you ask them you can start it after the sale.
 

gmorse

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Hi Andrew,
The un engraved cock might annoy a contemporary customer would it not and the lack of serial number make it unsaleable even then?
Quite the contrary I'd have thought, customers for watches in this class didn't generally appreciate any showiness in their possessions and the understated look of this watch would be very much to their taste. By the way, this does have a serial number, it's just in a code yet to be deciphered, (as was the practice of Vulliamy).

Regards,

Graham
 
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zedric

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If you are looking for info on JF Cole, some of the books on carriage clocks cover biographical data, as he also made some fine carriage clocks. Also, his brother made a range of fine clocks, and there is a book on Thomas Cole which has some JF Cole info. Not much on his watches in these sources though.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Zarcandy,
For information on J F Cole, you need a copy of "Thomas Cole & Victorian Clockmaking" first-class research by J B Hawkins, Sydney 1978. Not only the family but their customers are in small bio´s. (Hunt & Roskell of course). You will enjoy the read I am sure. Published by "Antique Collectors Club. Foreword by Ronald Lee. I think Jeff has a copy or two.

Best wishes,

Allan.

PS; I missed this because I was in Basel.
 
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Tom McIntyre

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You may or may not know that Cole's Resilient Escapement was used by E. Howard & Co. and also in a small number of watches by the Waltham Watch Co.

I will need to take a look at the J. F. Cole clocks. I have always considered him a watch maker. His brother's strut clocks are magnificent, and the movements are a great deal like watch works.

About 40 years ago, I visited the British Museum Horology Student's Room to ask about a Graham and a Tompion watch I hade purchased and also to try to see some J. F. Cole watches. They had a number of Cole watches and the docent who had showed up to talk to me about Tompion and Graham, Jeremy Evans, also got out a number of the Cole's to satisfy my curiosity.

My Tompion was a cheap fake, but the Graham was a nice example with a dial that had probably been replaced by Vulliamy to modernize it. He recommended that I not try to "restore" it with a dial more like the original arcaded dial would have looked.
 
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zedric

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This is one of the more complex JF Cole clocks, also one of his first, and a clear copy of the style Breguet had pioneered. There are a few others made by Cole in this style

 
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zedric

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Tom McIntyre

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The humpback carriage clock is interesting. I normally think of Mairet as the "English Breguet" but that clock is much too heavy in the design for Mairet. It looks really British. I still think that Thomas Cole was the primary clockmaker of the family and the strut clocks seem to be uniquely his design.

The skeleton clock is reminiscent of a turret clock movement in a glass case. It brings to mind the craft clocks made by James Arthur but rather more elegant than his "industrial" look. We just had our Ward Francillon Time Symposium last week and had a chance to talk briefly about Arthur in the intro to the annual James Arthur Lecture
 

zedric

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that clock is much too heavy in the design for Mairet. It looks really British.
Hi Tom. If I am reading this correctly, you are saying that the design of the humpback clock looks to be British? If so, it would be interesting to compare the Cole clock to one made around the same date by Breguet, who had been making these for more than a decade before the example by the Cole brothers


or this one..

 

Tom McIntyre

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No, I do not think I said they were British. I said that Mairet "brought" the design to Britain and that Cole's example was the most British looking one I had seen. The dial work is more delicate on Breguet and Mairet. I will need to do a little more reading to come up with the other Britih maker whose name has slipped out of my ever more leaky mind. (I was thinking of Jump as the other English source.) Mairet did not work in London very long.

Five days of travel followed by oral surgery have left my mind a little fuzzy.
 

Ralph

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Jump, is who comes to mind, for English humpback clocks, but I've seen some made by other makers.

...and don't forget Cole's Tripod clocks.

cole1.jpg

Ralph
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Tom. please read J.B. Hawkins book "Thomas Cole & Victorian Clockmaking" It really is a must. I would lend you mine, but it is clear we are not next door neabgours. ( I heard that Tom).:mad:



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Tom McIntyre

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I have been to Belmont a number of times where there are quite a few nice Thomas Cole clocks.

Before this discussion, I was not aware that J. F. Cole had made any significant number of clocks.

Of course, it is possible I knew about J.F. Cole clocks at one time and have forgotten them. I need to dig through my library and see if I have Hawkins book since I seem to have forgotten it also.
 

zedric

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No, I do not think I said they were British. I said that Mairet "brought" the design to Britain and that Cole's example was the most British looking one I had seen. The dial work is more delicate on Breguet and Mairet.
Hi Tom

Sorry for the misunderstanding. Still, I am not entirely convinced that Mairet was the link. Mairet was only 20 at the time that the Cole brothers completed the carriage clock now in the British Museum. I don’t know how long French apprenticeships were, but in Britain they were 7 years and usually started at age 14. I would assume that Mairet was still apprenticed to Breguet when the Cole brothers started their clock, but you may well know more of his history.

Mairet is a better possible link to Jump and to Nicole Nielsen, both of whom later made clocks in this style.

How JF Cole knew enough to make such a complex clock as his first piece, or advertise as servicing Breguet watches, is still a mystery.
 
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Tom McIntyre

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My thoughts are mostly based on interest and ignorance. I have ordered a copy of the Thomas Cole book. It looks familiar to me, but I could not find my copy.

My thoughts on Breguet are mostly based on his interactions with John Arnold and the exchange of their sons as students with each other. I have not spent much time thinking about the carriage clocks.
 

zedric

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I have not spent much time thinking about the carriage clocks.
Hi Tom

Not to worry, not too many do - it is certainly a minority interest... The links to Breguet via Mairet (for Vuillamy) and Arnold jnr (for Arnold) certainly explain why these two firms were among the earliest to adopt the carriage clock in England. I think for JF Cole, the complex humpback carriage clock was a way to show off his technical brilliance without having to miniaturise everything into a watch, which would have taken far longer. He certainly made far fewer clocks than watches, and nothing, after the first few humpback clocks, showing anything of the technical flair he would lavish on the watches.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Are there any other sources about this fascinating maker? Considering his amazing if small output there seems little in print about him.

Hello Zacandy, in answer to your request I recommend "Carriage Clocks" by Charles Allix and Peter Bonnert (1974) Pages 236 to 241. High praise indeed. There is also a better photograph of the movement of the 1823 Humpback carriage clock.

Allan.
 
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