John Forrest London

RoboticService

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Jan 5, 2021
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Hello,

My mother gave me an old pocket watch some years ago.

We’re unable to find a date but on the dial face my watch shows:

John Forrest
London
24515

It does not work, the crystal is gone, and the hunter case face cover does not stay latched.

Wondering if anyone might know any history or information about this particular watch.

Thank you,
RS

JohnForrestHunterPocketWatch-1.jpg JohnForrestHunterPocketWatch-2.jpg JohnForrestHunterPocketWatch-3.jpg JohnForrestHunterPocketWatch-4.jpg
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi RS, and welcome to the forum,

We’re unable to find a date but on the dial face my watch shows:
The date is there, in the case hallmarks, which show that it was assayed as sterling silver, (the lion), in the Chester Assay Office, (the shield with three wheat sheaves and a sword), in 1884/5, (the capital 'A'), but I can't see the mark for the case maker's initials, which may be on the inside of the back lid. The case would have been made specifically for this movement.

The movement was probably made in Coventry in the Midlands for John Forrest, and is an English lever, with a balance compensated for temperature changes. It has a fusee arrangement, (the grooved cone), with a fine chain connecting it to the mainspring barrel. This was to even out the pull of the spring over the duration of its wind, and the watch is wound by a key fitting on the square surrounded by a brass collar, and must be done anti-clockwise.

The plates are made of brass which has been gilded by a mercury process, which provides a good contrast against the blued steel screws.

If it hasn't been cleaned and overhauled in recent years it's as well not to run it much until that's been done, which should include replacing the missing screw in the barrel bar, next to the 'LONDON' engraving.

Regards,

Graham
 
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RoboticService

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Jan 5, 2021
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Hi RS, and welcome to the forum,

The date is there, in the case hallmarks, which show that it was assayed as sterling silver, (the lion), in the Chester Assay Office, (the shield with three wheat sheaves and a sword), in 1884/5, (the capital 'A'), but I can't see the mark for the case maker's initials, which may be on the inside of the back lid. The case would have been made specifically for this movement.

The movement was probably made in Coventry in the Midlands for John Forrest, and is an English lever, with a balance compensated for temperature changes. It has a fusee arrangement, (the grooved cone), with a fine chain connecting it to the mainspring barrel. This was to even out the pull of the spring over the duration of its wind, and the watch is wound by a key fitting on the square surrounded by a brass collar, and must be done anti-clockwise.

The plates are made of brass which has been gilded by a mercury process, which provides a good contrast against the blued steel screws.

If it hasn't been cleaned and overhauled in recent years it's as well not to run much it until that's been done, which should include replacing the missing screw in the barrel bar, next to the 'LONDON' engraving.

Regards,

Graham
Hello Graham,

Thank you for your reply.

Based on a post https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/john-forrest-info-and-research.101460/ "After his death in 1871, his name, chattels and goodwill were sold. In 1894, his name and Fir Tree mark were bought by non other than Charles J Hill". Another post in that thread mentions: "In fact it was in 1883 that Hill appropriated Forrest's name etc. The following is extracted from an article sent to me: Following the death of Forrest in 1871 his trade belongings, including unfinished stock and goodwill, were all sold by his sister to Messrs. Carley & Co. They subsequently got into difficulties, and later assigned their business to a Mr. Read for the benefit of creditors who, in turn sold the name, title, and goodwill of the business of John Forrest to a Mr. R. Thorneloe for £20."

"In the mean time on 20 October 1883 and again on the 26th C. J.
Hill of Coventry registered „Forrest, London‟ with fir tree symbol
as a Trade Mark and marketed watches with „John Forrest, Maker
to the Admiralty‟ inscriptions. Thus Thornloe sold the name to Hill."

My assumption is this timepiece may have been made by Mr. Hill? JohnForrestHunterPocketWatch-5c.jpg
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Breamore, Hampshire, UK
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Hi RS,

My assumption is this timepiece may have been made by Mr. Hill?
It's very probable that it was simply sold by Mr. Hill, because the signatures on English watches were rarely if ever for their actual makers.

No one person made a whole watch; as many as 50 or more different specialist craftspeople were involved in the making of a watch, many of them small, self-employed and working from tiny workshops as sub-contractors. There were very few operations which we would recognise today as factories at this time. The main watchmaking centres in England were in London, the north-west around Liverpool and later in the century, Coventry. The 'raw', (unfinished), movements would be passed through many hands in the process of manufacture before ending up at the retailers who had commissioned them.

It's important not to confuse the makers of the movement with the case makers, which was a separate craft in its own right, although there were some of the larger makers who did undertake both, (the name of Rotherhams in Coventry springs to mind), to provide a complete, finished watch, with whatever name and other engraving the retailer required. The town where cases were assayed is also not a infallible clue to where any part of the watch was made; for instance, neither Coventry nor Liverpool have ever had an assay office of their own, so case makers in those two cities had their work assayed in either Chester, or later, Birmingham.

The minimum set of legal English hallmarks consists of the three I mentioned earlier, plus the maker's mark, usually their initials, which must be somewhere in your silver case for the hallmarks to be complete and valid, although not all the component parts of the case would necessarily bear all four. The pendant, where the bow attaches for wearing on a chain, was often made by a separate specialist and was therefore hallmarked with their marks and not the main case maker's.

Regards,

Graham
 

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