James Gooden Helsby watch

Andrew Wilde

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I know there have been other threads about the Helsby family, mainly in the context of case making. I was going to add this to one of the earlier threads, but feel it's worth one of its own. I think a case and movement by the Helsbys is quite unusual.
From a mixed auction lot, this arrived yesterday. As is often the case, I'd only seen the front of the watch, no images of the movement or hallmarks, but the dial had me hoping for an early Liverpool watch.
The case is hallmarked for Chester 1832, and carries the makers mark JH in a rectangular cartouche with a wavy top. My copy of Priestley is "in the post" but according to online info, this mark was registered in 1796 to John (or James) Helsby, casemaker of Liverpool.
The movement has the name Jas Gooden Helsby and Liverpool engraved on the plate, with DETACHED on the balance cock. I was hoping for a Massey but it looks like it's an STR. Possibly a replaced escapement.
The fusee chain is missing but pressure on the fusee sets the balance swinging and the seconds hand rotating, so hopefully not much wrong with the movement other than it's dirty, as is the case. Some pictures below, and when it's cleaned up and running I'll post a couple more.
John (if you see this), the dustcap is stamped "T".

...Andy

IMG_5327.jpg IMG_5328.jpg IMG_5329.jpg IMG_5331.jpg IMG_5332.jpg IMG_5333.jpg IMG_5334.jpg
 
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gmorse

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Hi Andy,

I can't find a Gooden in Loomes, but there is a village called Helsby just to the east of Ellesmere Port, between there and Runcorn. In most signatures, that name would be the location of the vendor, so I think the name of the case maker is a coincidence. It may be that the Helsby family originated from that village several generations previously. See this older thread on the subject.

Edit: But of course there is a James Gooden Helsby, (whose entry I didn't initially see amongst the 13 others!), who's recorded as also a watch case maker working 1821-1834 . . .

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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He is also recorded in Pigots 1837 Liverpool directory under watch & clock maker and not under watch case makers.

1621781834915.png

possibly listed in other years, that I haven't checked.

The unidentified cap maker 'T' is frequently found associated with Samuel Quillam/ Thomas Yates especially a decade or so later.

John
 

Allan C. Purcell

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James Gooden Helsby, 21 Elliot Street Liverpool (Lancs) 1821-34. Also, watch- case maker. case hallmark Chester 1832.

I will let you guess the case-maker.

Best wishes,

Allan.
 

Andrew Wilde

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It's back in running order. The fusee chain wasn't missing, but snapped and the remains wrapped around the fusee. That's now replaced, it's been cleaned and is keeping time to within a minute over 48 hours.
I'm still wondering about the Detached engraving on the balance cock and whether that implies a later conversion to an STR from perhaps a Massey escapement. While a Patent engraving is quite common on original STRs, I don't recall seeing Detached on anything other than Masseys before. There are no visible signs that the lever or escape wheel pivot holes have been modified. There's a couple of pictures of the lever and balance wheel below.
The case, with gold hinge lugs, has cleaned up nicely. I've replaced the crystal. The dial hairlines can probably be improved but overall I'm rather pleased with how its turned out.

IMG_5352.jpg IMG_5353.jpg IMG_5335.jpg IMG_5337.jpg IMG_5338.jpg IMG_5340.jpg IMG_5341.jpg IMG_5349.jpg
 

gmorse

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Hi Andy,

That lever could possibly have been cut down from a Massey; the existing roller is rather larger than a Massey, so there would be room to re-profile the fork and insert a new guard pin. The straight sides certainly suggest an early date for it.

Regards,

Graham
 

Andrew Wilde

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Hi Graham,
Thanks for that. If it's a conversion with a modified original lever, am I right to assume that it's most likely that the balance assembly is original except for a new table and impulse jewel, or would the whole assembly have been replaced? I appreciate it's probably impossible to say with any certainty. Certainly a conversion makes most sense given the balance cock "DETACHED" engraving. If it is, it was done very well - after nearly 4 days it's still keeping time to well within 2 minutes.
Out of interest, have you ever seen an original STR with the DETACHED engraving ?

Cheers ...Andy
 

gmorse

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Hi Andy,
If it's a conversion with a modified original lever, am I right to assume that it's most likely that the balance assembly is original except for a new table and impulse jewel, or would the whole assembly have been replaced? I appreciate it's probably impossible to say with any certainty.
I think it's quite plausible for just the roller and jewel pin to be replaced, the rest of the balance could remain as it was. I wouldn't be surprised if the materials houses were selling conversion kits, although all you'd really need would be a new roller.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Andy - there is no fixed rule as to the engraving on early Massey levers and single rollers.

Just a quick search through my photographic database of pre-1850 examples:

Massey I - nothing, PATENT, PATENT LEVER
Massey II - nothing, DETACH'D, PATENT LEVER, PATENT
Massey III - nothing, PATENT, PATENT LEVER, DETACHED, MASSEY'S PATENT, DETACHED LEVER
Massey IV - nothing, MASSEY'S PATENT, PATENT
Massey V - nothing, PATENT, DETACH'D, DETACH'D LEVER

Single roller - nothing, PATENT LEVER DETACH, DETACH'D LEVER, PATENT LEVER DETACH'D, PATENT

The engraving was there, for the most part, to enhance the attraction to potential buyers.

John
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Unusual Banking 1828
Hi Andy,
If you have not read the above thread, it could help. The William Moon, of 4 Holborn Bars, London, is one of my favourite watches, Moon bought this Liverpool Rack lever, and it was probably converted by him to STR. It also has that smile on the barrel bridge you like. (memories of Muncas) He set the lever arm direct into the adjustable slide, the banking is on a single pin and the lever is a two-prong fork, going from side to side of the single pin. It could have been finished by any of the top Rack lever makers of Liverpool, but that touch of blued screw on the adjustment slide, I would say Litherland & Davis. (The conversion was done in London of course).

zz-33.JPG zz-34.JPG zz-35.JPG

R/

Allan
 

Andrew Wilde

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Andy - there is no fixed rule as to the engraving on early Massey levers and single rollers.

Just a quick search through my photographic database of pre-1850 examples:

Massey I - nothing, PATENT, PATENT LEVER
Massey II - nothing, DETACH'D, PATENT LEVER, PATENT
Massey III - nothing, PATENT, PATENT LEVER, DETACHED, MASSEY'S PATENT, DETACHED LEVER
Massey IV - nothing, MASSEY'S PATENT, PATENT
Massey V - nothing, PATENT, DETACH'D, DETACH'D LEVER

Single roller - nothing, PATENT LEVER DETACH, DETACH'D LEVER, PATENT LEVER DETACH'D, PATENT

The engraving was there, for the most part, to enhance the attraction to potential buyers.

John
Hi John,
Thanks for going to the trouble of listing those engravings. So the thing that was leading me towards it being a conversion to an STR, the DETACHD engraving, is very far from conclusive and it's just as likely to be an original STR (which I would much prefer)....Andy
 

John Matthews

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Andy the earliest authenticated single roller I am aware has DETACHED on the cock.

John
 

Andrew Wilde

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Hi Allan - I can see why that would be high on the list of favourite watches - very nice. I imagine most unusual to find that non-standard banking arrangement on a conversion. I'll add it to my list of barrel bridge edge face profiles and one day I should start a thread on them. While only decorative they are all remarkably similar and maybe point to a single worker. I found another last week that I didn't realise I had (!) - George Parker, Ulverston, Liverpool runner, 1850, the latest dateable one I've seen. Picture below, totally off-topic ! ...Andy

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John Matthews

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Andy,

It was sold by DP ~2015 Fras T JOHNSON, Dublin. No 264 - I cannot find it currently in his archive. I know he is in the process of migrating to a new site that it is under development, so it may re-appear. Here's the important part of the description ...

Large and well made silver paircase hallmarked Chester 1818/19, casemaker T*A (Thomas Adamson, Liverpool). Typical Lancashire fullplate fusee movement, the cock engraved DETACHED, the cap stamped with an H. Single-roller detached lever escapement. Flat steel balance, spiral balance-spring. Perfect one-piece cream enamel dial with balance-brake at 7, gold hands. 59 mm diameter.

I am not saying that this is the earliest single roller, just the earliest that i am confident is authentic.

John
 

Allan C. Purcell

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I am not saying that this is the earliest single roller, just the earliest that i am confident is authentic.
Fras T JOHNSON, Dublin. No 264 - David Penney's Antique Watch Store (From the Early Single Table Roller escapement thread)

If I remember correctly John you published both watches on the "Early single table Roller Escapement" thread, and did you not buy one of them from DP? I have to say, it´s most strange that none of these watches turned up in Liverpool where both were made. Mmmmm?

R/

Allan.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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- George Parker, Ulverston, Liverpool runner, 1850, the latest dateable one I've seen. Picture below, totally off-topic! ...Andy
Hi Andy.
I had a quick look at Ulverston, not all that far from the Liverpool-Prescot area, plus when looking at Loomes, he says,

Parker George. Kirkby Ireleth. (Lancs) b.1800. working Market Place, Ulverston (Lancs) Mar. 1824-58, also jeweller and Engraver.

Must have had some financial backing along the way to have opened a shop in the bundhooks. He was only 24 then, and where did he learn the talent. The John Parker below could have been the father, I will search on- George could be your engraver at least?

Worth looking at. Next move Dennis Moore. (Nothing on George Parker, but in there is Parker John, mas. William Tarleton app. 1751 5 1/2 years.
plus John Derryhouse app. 1754. 7 years. Thomas Hooton app. 1759. 7 years. Charles Miller app.1762 7 years, 7 years, and I would think is last app 1793 Christopher Newstead app.

All for now.............
 

Andrew Wilde

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Going back to James Gooden Helsby for a minute - I was just browsing "Your Time" by Alan Treherne and there on page 43 is a pocket watch he attributes to James Gooden Helsby - a Massey IV !
 

John Matthews

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Andrew

You may wish to look at Priestley p.332 and also this thread.

John
 

Andrew Wilde

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Andrew

You may wish to look at Priestley p.332 and also this thread.

John
Hi John, I've previously read both, and will take time to read again in case I missed something, but I don't recall the thread reaching a conclusion about JGH's place in the family, nor that Priestley did, nor helping identify the casemaker whose JH mark is very distinctive.... Andy
 

John Matthews

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Andy - the position of JGH in the family tree is documented in the thread, both here ...

1627337358495.png

and here ...

1627337416268.png

and is consistent with the link that Allan provided ...

1627337514421.png

John

Edit - I do not believe the punch had a wavy top - I believe the appearance is due to wear. This is the a portion of the relevant page of R&P. NB the notes in the first entry are not as reliable as the family trees posted previously. Birth dates determined from the ages recorded in the1841 census are not absolutely accurate.

1627339593410.png
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Andy, some nice research there, by John Matthews. I thought where is the information coming from, so I started with Lommes, Helsby, James Gooden, Liverpool (Lancs), Elliot Street, Liverpool 1821-34, also watch case maker. So I turned to Gores 1821 directory, and it does say Helsby, James
41 Leeds Street, Liverpool. I then looked at Elliot street and found out it was 167 yards long, but no James Gooden Helsby. So to save you time I looked for James Gooden Helsby from 1821, 1824, 1825, 1827, 1829, 1832, in the directories. I could not find James Gooden Helsby, not on the streets given, not under the watch case makers, or under that name as watchmakers. All this tells me, there certainly was a James Gooden Helsby, but hard to find. Could he, for example, have been from Prescot? or thereabout? I will keep looking.

R/
Allan.
 

John Matthews

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The only trade directory listing I am aware of is from 1818 Gores ...

1627402987452.png

John
 

Allan C. Purcell

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John that's very good news, Loomes saying 1821-34 was my start point. Must get a copy of 1818. 26 Vauxhall Road was where the other Heldy´s were working, needs more research. It leaves us looking for a steady address for James Gooden Helsby.

Regards,

Allan.
 

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