John Shan (?)?Jonathan Shaw? , Liverpool pocket watch

John Turner

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Jan 3, 2018
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Hi, I recently purchased this pocket watch and am interested in learning more about it. The best I can tell, the movement has the name of John Shan, Liverpool engraved on it. The serial number is 1652. The case has a worn golden finish, and the outer case is covered in what I think is tortoiseshell, with a painting on it. It's a fusee movement, and the balance wheel seems to drag. I have attached pictures. I looked up the name and any variations I could think of in "Watchmakers & Clockmakers of the World (Volumes 1 & 2)" but didn't see anything relevant. I also googled it! :)

I found a couple of marks stamped inside the inner case, but couldn't find anything about those either.

I would like to learn anything I can about the watchmaker, age and anything else that I can find out. (Good news or bad!)

Thanks!

DSCN1773.JPG DSCN1775.JPG DSCN1777.JPG DSCN1779.JPG DSCN1780.JPG DSCN1781.JPG DSCN1783.JPG DSCN1784.JPG DSCN1786.JPG DSCN1787.JPG DSCN1788.JPG
 

LloydB

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Feb 24, 2006
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Hi, I recently purchased this pocket watch and am interested in learning more about it.
The best I can tell, the movement has the name of John Shan, Liverpool engraved on it.
The serial number is 1652. The case has a worn golden finish, and the outer case is
covered in what I think is tortoiseshell, with a painting on it. [snipped]

I would like to learn anything I can about the watchmaker, age and
anything else that I can find out. (Good news or bad!)

Thanks!

View attachment 691975 View attachment 691976 View attachment 691985
Have a look at the information here:


It seems that Jonathan Shan was a clockmaker,
and was, I'd guess, the retailer of your watch.

The Liverpool mark on this timepiece suggests
that he changed locations at some point.

What a beautiful case painting!
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi John,
The best I can tell, the movement has the name of John Shan, Liverpool engraved on it.
The name is John Shaw, the old way of writing the 'w' can be confusing! There are lots of John Shaws listed in Loomes, but not in Liverpool, (on a quick search), but since the name in the signature is almost always for the retailer, in common with most English watches of the period, the actual makers, (there were 40 or 50 specialist trades involved in making a watch), will remain anonymous. This watch dates from around 1800, give or take 10 years or so and is a verge fusee.

The under-painted horn outer case was quite popular for a while as a cheaper substitute for tortoiseshell, (which actually came from a turtle), and was usually applied over a base metal case. This example is in good condition, with the rather nice and sentimental painting of an angel surrounded by the typical leafy border. The watch paper echoes the sentiment of the case.

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Feb 9, 2013
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Hello John,
I too took some interest in your watch, any watch with Liverpool on it is well worth looking at, but I decided not to buy it because like you, I could not find out anything about him, so I left it.

Then this note given to us by Lloyd changes all that. I have enlarged your case photograph in the hope that those that collect Irish watches would know who the case-maker could be. I say Irish because some of the dealers, Jewellers, or Silversmiths could sell it better with Liverpool on it. The other mark could be the springer. I think now you bought a nice little watch, I should have stuck with it. I think you will hear more about your watch.

Regards,

Allan.

5-60.JPG

PS: Took another Look at SHAW in Loomes, there are no Jonathan Shaws, but a Joseph at Liverpool 1825. That is something to go on.
Anyone who has lived in Ireland, as I have, with know how the Irish speak the word Shan-w . I know people will think he must be English, but we have here two items a clock in London and a watch in Liverpool. That makes me think more research is required. I will let you know if I find out more.)
 
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John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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John Shaw is not listed as a Liverpool watch maker in the period of ~1790 to ~1810. There is a William Shaw listed in Crosshall Street as a watch maker in 1790 and later as a watch spring maker, that the closest Shaw in the trade.

However there is a prominent family of merchants listed from the 1760s. A John Shaw appears in the 1781 directory and by 1790 had established premises in Great Charlotte Street.

1643100600976.png

with two premises by 1796 ...

1643100795332.png

He continued to be listed at both addresses until 1810. Which is about the time he appears to have become less active. Both in the poll book of 1806

1643101072496.png

and the 1813 directory he is listed as esquire.

1643101137467.png

While there are alternative candidates, e.g. John Shaw, the surgeon, I would be fairly confident that you watch was made for John Shaw the merchant, either for his personal use or to be retailed by him. I suspect the former.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,
I found a couple of marks stamped inside the inner case, but couldn't find anything about those either.
The inner case, (known at the time simply as the 'box'), looks as though it's gilt brass, so there would not have been any legal requirement to have it assayed and hallmarked, but the case makers wouldn't only have worked in precious metals, the necessary skills were equally applicable to base metals, and gilt brass was the usual choice where cost was a factor. Makers' marks are sometimes found in these cases, and the marks in your case appear to be 'IH' incuse; a possible candidate with this mark is Isaac Hadwin or Hadwine, known at 34 Pool Lane, Liverpool, 1766-99, which fits with the probable dates of the movement. (From Philip Priestley's book on English watch cases).

Another somewhat confusing factor is that 'I' was often used in place of 'J' in marks and initials, the Latin alphabet not having a 'J', so John and James would often appear as an initial 'I'. However, that doesn't appear to be the case with your watch.

I do wonder whether an apparently prosperous merchant who later described himself as 'esquire', (which didn't have the same connotations in 18th and 19th century England as it does in the US today, but was rather an indication of social status), would have had a watch made for him cased in brass rather than at least silver. Perhaps he was just careful with his money!

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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I do wonder whether an apparently prosperous merchant who later described himself as 'esquire', (which didn't have the same connotations in 18th and 19th century England as it does in the US today, but was rather an indication of social status), would have had a watch made for him cased in brass rather than at least silver. Perhaps he was just careful with his money!
True Graham, but we don't know the age of the watch, if he did purchase it for personal use earlier in his career, it may have been purchased in an attempt to deceive (or do I mean impress?) ;)

John
 

Allan C. Purcell

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I know people will think he must be English, but we have here two items a clock in London and a watch in Liverpool. That makes me think more research is required. I will let you know if I find out
So I dug out Loomes little book om "Lancashire Clocks and Clockmakers" 1975 Edition. and we have John, Shaw, Lancaster. watchmaker, Son of Thomas Shaw. Then Shaw, Thomas, Lancaster Clock-Smith. Free 1766. Died before 1801 when Son, John. was free as a watchmaker.

So I followed it on with Brian Loomes book Complete British Clocks, and Thomas Shaw is well-known here. One of his Brass Dial clocks is signed
T. Shaw Lancaster, and it is signed on the movement 1777. So I would say you can at least disregard that family. I have checked the Liverpool directories, and they are not listed there.

Will keep at it.

Allan.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Jn o (superscript)
and on the clock Jonathan
Hi Lloyd,

I know about Jonathan on the watch but cannot find any Shaw watchmaker of the period with such a surname. My thoughts were that the Lancaster Shaws could have changed the names a little when selling watches signed for Liverpool, or London, I don´t think that now. I am back thinking about the Irish.
R/
Allan.
 

mosesgodfrey

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I'd been researching Liverpool for another watch (from 1830), so I hope it is not too out of place to add that the 1834 Gore's Liverpool directory shows a James Shaw, watchmaker, at 16 Great Richmond St. Born circa 1808 and active there at least into the 1850s, I gather from a genealogy thread. Unfortunately, no parents given. I note there is about a one generation gap in the business records available. It's a long shot, but IF the watch could be from early 1800s and IF James could be linked/related to a John Shaw, perhaps that could leave room for a watch-making John/Jonathan Shaw relocating to Liverpool?
 

LloydB

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I'd been researching Liverpool for another watch (from 1830), so I hope it is not too out of place to add that the 1834 Gore's Liverpool directory shows a James Shaw, watchmaker, at 16 Great Richmond St. Born circa 1808 and active there at least into the 1850s, I gather from a genealogy thread. Unfortunately, no parents given. I note there is about a one generation gap in the business records available. It's a long shot, but IF the watch could be from early 1800s and IF James could be linked/related to a John Shaw, perhaps that could leave room for a watch-making John/Jonathan Shaw relocating to Liverpool?
There's a Jonathan Shaw Jun, in the Cotton Trade, Mid-1800's.
Too late for that style of watch, but might provide a genealogical
path to an earlier relative.
Shaw Jonathan.jpg

Shaw Cotton 3.jpg
 

John Turner

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Thanks for all your help, everyone. It's a lot of research and it is really interesting to find out where it goes!
 

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