Johnson Walker & Tolhurst vs Fridlander Movement

John Matthews

NAWCC Member
Sep 22, 2015
2,949
1,356
113
France
Country
Region
I have just received a note back from the National Maritime Museum regarding the Kew Observatory testing of the movement illustrated. They kindly provided copies of the pages from the Kew Register which show the movement was originally housed in a gold half-hunter case when it was tested in July 1891. Now no doubt the case has gone to the melting pot.

As can be seen the watch is engraved Johnson Walker & Tolhurst but the watch was submitted by Alfred Fridlander & Company of Coventry for testing; it was suggested that Fridlander may have acted as the agent.

This is what I have been able to find about Alfred Fridlander from Grace's Guide. Not unlike other Coventry makers he diversified into the cycle industry.

Alfred Emanuel Fridlander - Watchmaker
1840 Born in Birmingham[1]
1871 Living in Coventry, a watchmaker employing 30 men and 6 Boys; living with his wife Flora and 3 children[2]
1897 Director of Triumph Cycle Co, Auto Machinery Co and Leigh Mills Co when The New Triumph Cycle Co, of which he was also a director, was opened for public subscription[3]
1901 Watch manufacturer and J.P.[4]
By 1904 was chairman of Triumph Cycle Co[5]
1911 Living on private means; retired watch manufacturer[6]

References
1: BMD
2: 1871 census
3: The Times, Feb 13, 1897
4: 1901 census
5: The Times, Nov 08, 1904
6: 1911 census

I am aware that Fridlander produced both cases and watches and is listed as 'Makers to the Admiralty' in Loomes being active 1868-1899. There is a reference to an auctioned watch in the Mar 1995 of AH, with the comment that Fridlander's output consisted mainly of karrusel watches, which were regularly submitted to Kew and gained 'A' certificates.

My assumption is that Johnson Walker & Tolhurst were either the watch finisher or just the retailer. Did Fridlander have any part in the manufacture of the watch or the gold case? was he simply the agent? Possibly these questions might be answered when the movement is serviced - but I thought it might be worth seeking opinions in advance.

Any comments/observations would be much appreciated particularly in regard to further examples of the association of the two firms - are the London firm known to have retailed any of Fridlander's karrusels? for example.

Finally, is it fair to assume that movements with double spade hour hands were originally housed in a half-hunter case?

Thanks in anticipation

John
 

Attachments

Omexa

NAWCC Member
Feb 28, 2010
4,991
640
113
Darwin, Australia
Country
Region
Hi John, very nice! I still have not found a Dial or Case for my Kew A movement. I have the geared Winder and the Hands. Regards Ray 1.jpg
 

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,631
2,225
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi John,

That's a fine watch!

...Finally, is it fair to assume that movements with double spade hour hands were originally housed in a half-hunter case?...
Yes, that's always the reason they're that shape. Such a pity about the case, which would probably have been quite plain but fairly heavy and from a top maker.

I think J W & T were the retailers; the finishers didn't as a rule sign anything.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

NAWCC Member
Sep 22, 2015
2,949
1,356
113
France
Country
Region
Many thanks Graham
 

MartyR

Registered User
Dec 16, 2008
11,072
339
83
UK
Country
Johnson Walker Tolhurst Ltd was established in 1849. Originally based in the City of London, they soon expanded to the West End, growing into a well established purveyor of fine antique jewellery.

I have a watch signed by them (shown below), and took it into JWT's current premises in the Burlington Arcade. I spoke there to a Director of the company who confirmed that they had in their early days manufactured clocks (they had one of these in the shop) but he was not sure if they ever manufactured pocket watches.

90342 1 Johnson Walker & Tolhurst.jpg 90342 2 Johnson Walker & Tolhurst.jpg 90342 3 Johnson Walker & Tolhurst.jpg 90342 4 Johnson Walker & Tolhurst.jpg 90342 5 Johnson Walker & Tolhurst.jpg
 

John Matthews

NAWCC Member
Sep 22, 2015
2,949
1,356
113
France
Country
Region
Martin thank you for sharing your watch. I have sent an EMAIL to the Burlington Arcade company asking whether they have any records for 1891 and provided the information I have from Kew. We will see whether I receive any response.

John
 

Lychnobius

Registered User
Aug 5, 2015
561
174
43
Redruth, Cornwall, UK
Country
Here are some images of another Johnson Walker Kew-certified movement which I once owned. (Alas, it passed out of my hands some years ago; I think it went to Japan.) This piece achieved an 'especially good' rating of 80.3 at Kew. The arabic chapter-ring is a little unusual at this period. Like John's example, this one was clearly intended for a half-hunter case.

The caption I wrote for these images in my long-defunct horological website may still be of interest, although it is somewhat out of date and I knew nothing at the time of Fridlander's possible involvement:


[FONT=&quot]From 1884 onwards, the Observatory at Richmond Park, Kew, London, was the scene of annual trials of watches and chronometers for which makers and private owners could submit individual movements. Each entry was tested for 45 days in a variety of positions and climatic conditions. 80.3 marks is not a record-breaking figure (scores of over 90 were regularly obtained by 1900) but it still does the makers great credit, given that this is essentially a conventional single-roller lever watch competing against movements fitted with chronometer escapements, tourbillons, auxiliary compensation systems and similar exotica.

Oliver Mundy.

johnson_walker_dial.jpg johnson_walker_movement.jpg [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot][/FONT]
 

John Matthews

NAWCC Member
Sep 22, 2015
2,949
1,356
113
France
Country
Region
Oliver thank-you for sharing your photographs and description.

I note that the address engraved on your example and that of Martin's is Aldersgate Street. On your example, unlike Martin's, the company name had 'Ltd' appended, which Loomes ascribes to the period 1907-1909, but a quick search throws these dates into doubt. I couldn't make out the year of the hallmark on Martin's, it would be good to know what it is. I have found a makers mark of 'JJJW' for James Johnson, John Charles Walker & Tolhurst, registered in London ~1866 and 'WWBT' for Johnson Walter Walker & Brownfield Tolhurst Ltd. at the Aldersgate address, registered in London ~1903. The dates are the result of relatively rapid search, so I would not like to say that the dates are absolutely precise.

I also did a quick search for auction results:

1880 80 Aldersgate - Johnson Walker & Tolhurst

1899 80 Aldersgate - Johnson Walker & Tolhurst Ltd
1901 80 Aldersgate - Johnson Walker & Tolhurst Ltd
1916 80 Aldersgate & 21 Conduit Street - Johnson Walker & Tolhurst Ltd

So I would think that Oliver's example is likely to be early C20th.

John
 

Lychnobius

Registered User
Aug 5, 2015
561
174
43
Redruth, Cornwall, UK
Country
I would think that Oliver's example is likely to be early C20th.
I did think it was unusual to find a limited company much earlier than 1900. I believe the concept of 'limited liability' dates back to the 1850s in British legislation, but it was slow to establish itself as the rule rather than the exception. The arabic chapter-ring, too, suggests the twentieth century rather than the nineteenth.

And yet my serial number (50114) is lower than that of John's movement, which I understand is known to have been in existence in 1891.

Does it perhaps follow that, if John's is a Fridlander product, mine is not - in other words, that the two have entirely separate origins and their serial numbers are wholly unrelated?

Oliver Mundy.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

John Matthews

NAWCC Member
Sep 22, 2015
2,949
1,356
113
France
Country
Region
I did think it was unusual to find a limited company much earlier than 1900. I believe the concept of 'limited liability' dates back to the 1850s in British legislation, but it was slow to establish itself as the rule rather than the exception. The arabic chapter-ring, too, suggests the twentieth century rather than the nineteenth.

And yet my serial number (50114) is lower than that of John's movement, which I understand is known to have been in existence in 1891.

Does it perhaps follow that, if John's is a Fridlander product, mine is not - in other words, that the two have entirely separate origins and their serial numbers are wholly unrelated?

Oliver Mundy.
Good point Oliver. Taken with Graham's observation that the engraved name is more likely to be the retailer and the uncertainty the current shop expressed to Martin, it seems likely that the two watches were from different sources. If that is the case, but the plate engraving was initiated by JWT, they must have had more than one sequence of numbers; perhaps they are related to their supplier - from my quick search the engraved numbers seem close to random!

Just for the record here are the serial numbers & dates, I have, in the form year/serial number/source:

1867 / 13782 / Martin
1875 / 191076 / Bonhams 18ct 3/4 plate hunter with stop/start May 2011
1891 / 52461 / my movement
1899 / 15008 / Bonhams 18ct open face with stop/start Feb 2013
1901 / 1059671? / Christies 18ct 1/2 hunter with Kew class A certificate Dec 2004 (number described as case number)
1916 / 375508 / Fellows Silver 1/2 hunter not working Dec 2015

We would need many more examples with comprehensive information for each watch to make any sense of it.

I am still waiting on the shop to reply to my EMAILs asking whether they have records of their historical activity. In regard to my movement further clues to its origin may be revealed when it is serviced.

John
 
Last edited by a moderator:

gmorse

NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
12,631
2,225
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi John,

This is a good example of the perils of relying on the serial numbers on English watches to derive any sequences and implied dating. I believe a large majority of these serial numbers relate to the job or order numbers of the workshops which made them, and not to the actual output of the retailers whose signatures they bear. How else would a retail jeweller, even a large successful one, have sold over 300,000 watches by 1916?

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

NAWCC Member
Sep 22, 2015
2,949
1,356
113
France
Country
Region
I was just reading an article by Gloria Clifton (curator emeritus Greenwich) regarding chronometer-makers, in latest edition of AH, from which

"Those submitting chronometers for trial had to sign a declaration that they were the manufacturer, and though the term was not defined, it suggests that they had not simply been purchased from another maker and supplied without further intervention."

This is new to me. Together with the points made earlier, it seems to raise the probability that Fridlander may have had greater involvement than simply acting as Johnson Walker & Tolhurst's agent. Given the declaration requirement, is it likely that a company who submitted chronometers to trials, and was designated as a Makers to the Admiralty', would act as an agent unless they had contributed to the manufacture of the watch?

In the copy of the portion of the Kew records that I received, the names in the 'Sent by' column have a mix of individual names, such as ' H Garn for Rotherhams' and companies. Just below the entry for the JW&T watch, there are six watches received from Stauffer Son & Co. In the column 'Maker's Name' the following names appear:

John Wilkinson, Bridlington Quay
Waterhouse & Co, Dublin
G E Butcher, Nottingham
A King,Hull
for Marsh & Co, Birmingham
for Marsh & Co, Birmingham

I assume that these were the retailer's to whom Stauffer's were subsequently going to supply these imported watches from their Swiss factory. Perhaps the addition of the 'for' in front of the last two, might imply that they had not been engraved with retailer's name, at the point of submission. Just a thought.

I wonder whether others who have traced the Kew records for certified watches, can comment further on the way names were recorded in the Kew Registers.

John
 

MartyR

Registered User
Dec 16, 2008
11,072
339
83
UK
Country
My suspicion is that Gloria Clifton's comments were hypothetical, and not necessarily implemented at Kew :whistle:

I have one very good example in my records, a watch signed (only) Hogg & Shaw, but clearly made by Usher & Cole. The first three documents below are the official records of Kew Observatory, dated 1887, which refer only to Hogg & Shaw:

90383 12 Hogg & Shaw.JPG 90383 13 Hogg & Shaw.JPG 90383 11 Hogg & Shaw.JPG

Then I have a letter of 1999 from the National Physical Laboratory, which was the result of some investigation by the then owner of the watch:

90383 15 Hogg & Shaw.JPG 90383 16.jpg

This last letter suggests some confusion and laxity in Kew's record-keeping! Unfortunately I cannot find the Kew Ledger referred to in that letter, but I do have a ledger entry (not identified but I recall that this was from an Usher & Cole ledger) which shows the makers and costs of the elements of the watch - which may be interesting to some.

90383 10 Hogg & Shaw.JPG
 

John Matthews

NAWCC Member
Sep 22, 2015
2,949
1,356
113
France
Country
Region
Hi Martin - thank you for posting these documents.

While I agree with you that the process described may not have been rigorously applied, the example you have documented may well exemplify the way that the process was applied.

In order to illustrate the point, I attach the entry that I have for my movement; it's highlighted. The terminology of the entry is 'Sent By' Fridlander, 'Maker's Name' Johnson Walker & Tolhurst, London and 'Watch Number' 52461 (allowing for the transposed columns as indicated at the top of the page!) Now I have come to interpret this to mean that the maker (or agent - it matters not which) Fridlander presented the watch for testing and when the certificate was issued, it would be issued in the name of JW&T - in this case, I believe to be the retailer.

So, I suspect in your example the two enteries mentioned in the letter will have been recorded as follows:

17/10/1897 --- Usher & Cole --- Hogg & Shaw --- 24320
16/02/1888 --- S Smith & Son --- Hogg & Shaw --- 24320

My thought is, like the writer of the NPL letter, that these were two different watches, both retailed by Hogg and Shaw and the certificates made out to them - because they were entered in the register under the column 'Maker's Name'. It seem reasonable at this particular time, that a prestigious retailer would want the certificate in his name to present with the watch to the buyer. Graham's point regarding the significance of watch numbers on many watches being relevant here and it is not inconceivable that two Hogg & Shaw retailed watches had the same number.


It would be great to see the appropriate entries in the Kew 'Register of Watches Received and Despatched' for the watches referred to in your documents.

John
 

Attachments

MartyR

Registered User
Dec 16, 2008
11,072
339
83
UK
Country
It would be great to see the appropriate entries in the Kew 'Register of Watches Received and Despatched' for the watches referred to in your documents.
My very bad memory is whispering to me that I did have a scan of the Kew ledger when I had the watch. But if I did, I can't find it in my system anywhere.

I'm sure that Greenwich could find the entry/entries,.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
167,106
Messages
1,456,194
Members
87,310
Latest member
SuperNeo
Encyclopedia Pages
1,057
Total wiki contributions
2,914
Last edit
E. Howard & Co. by Clint Geller