Jos Johnson Private Label

John Cote

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I wish I had gotten to this watch before the case had been scrapped...but this seems to be the way of the world. I collect both American and European private label watches and especially PLs from my adopted home town of Indianapolis, Indiana. Indianapolis was and is called The Crossroads of America because of all of the railroad lines which crossed here. It was the home of The Big Four.

Anyway I just thought I would show off my newest and what must be the earliest Indy private label...at least that I have seen. It seems to be a slightly better than average Jos. Johnson, 25 Church St, Liverpool movement with diamond endstone and compensated balance. My guess is that the movement dates to the early 1850s but I would love to hear other opinions. It was made as a private label for W. H. Talbott and Co of Indianapolis, which was an early retailer of watches, jewelry and flatware in Indy. There is still a Talbott Street in Indy.

The photos, in case anyone cares were taken with my iPhone 7+ in cloudy window light.

Talbott-Dial.jpg Talbott-Cover.jpg Talbott-Mvt.jpg
 

Keith R...

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John, your SN# comes close to one owned by Oliver Mundy (15xxx).

Here is mine from 1842, SN# 14201. It's on Oliver's list.

From Oliver's Johnson's data base, the numbers sequence for PL's should
follow suit.

Nice movement, cover and dial!! One of just a few Johnson Private Labels.

***Edit for John C. I'd say 1850 on the mark. I have one also from 1842 with
a split compensated balance wheel, but would guess an upgrade. I think the
chronometer balance wheels were a given post 1850.

Keith R...

jj173 (500x375).jpg jj173a (500x375).jpg 100_3971 (1024x768).jpg
 
Last edited:

Keith R...

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BTW John, my case on the Josh Johnson includes the movement number 14201, but the
case HM is 1877. The jeweler was kind enough to include the movement number following
English tradition. The 1842 date coincides with Oliver's data base. So the original owner
out of GB, wore his original case out. I purchased it out of England originally.

Keith R...
 

John Cote

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BTW John, my case on the Josh Johnson includes the movement number 14201, but the
case HM is 1877. The jeweler was kind enough to include the movement number following
English tradition. The 1842 date coincides with Oliver's data base. So the original owner
out of GB, wore his original case out. I purchased it out of England originally.
Keith,

It is interesting and not surprising to find out that Americans were not the only people to recase watches after the original cases wore out. I think I may have a period coin case which will fit this movement. One day, when I get time, I may get motivated to clean it, case it up and wear it from time to time.

Thanks again. This sharing of information is why I joined the NAWCC and why I continue to love it.
 
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Keith R...

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Look for a swing out case John, here's one on my 19J Johnson, 52MM.
Oops, not a Dennison but a later case. Movement 1842 also.

Keith R...

100_3725 (800x600).jpg jj811 (800x800).jpg jj813 (800x800).jpg jj814 (800x800).jpg
 
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John Matthews

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It was made as a private label for W. H. Talbott and Co of Indianapolis, which was an early retailer of watches, jewelry and flatware in Indy.
John I did a little research into this W H Talbott , the results of which may be familiar to you, but in the context of this Johnson movement I think what I found is worth posting.

Washington Houston Talbott is said to have operated between c.1855-1865 and is listed as a dealer in jewellery, watches silver ware and fancy goods in the 1855 Indianapolis trade directory (which is the earliest I have access to).

upload_2020-2-9_10-20-52.png

Although I have not been able to find any earlier trade directories, I did note that there was a Talbott, Bailey & Co listed on one site with the earlier date of 1852.

upload_2020-2-9_10-23-49.png

I also found evidence of silversmiths and watch makers associated with Talbott & Co. in subsequent trade directories

1857

upload_2020-2-9_10-28-44.png

1858 - 2 apprentices & a watchmaker

upload_2020-2-9_10-33-11.png upload_2020-2-9_11-13-57.png upload_2020-2-9_11-14-49.png upload_2020-2-9_10-30-12.png

1860 Jenison now designated as a jeweller and an engraver employed

upload_2020-2-9_10-54-25.png upload_2020-2-9_10-57-33.png

1861

upload_2020-2-9_10-50-42.png upload_2020-2-9_10-48-55.png upload_2020-2-9_10-49-54.png

1864 is the last year I could find the firm listed.

upload_2020-2-9_11-11-14.png

In 1865 the firm was succeeded by G M Jenison, H I Nelson and A R Jenison operating as Jenison, Nelson & Co - there is a newspaper entry from the Indiana State Gazetteer here.

I have seen a few Liverpool watches that had been exported to America where the cap is similarly engraved as John's example. I have one myself on a cap fitted to a Lewis Samuel movement. Such engraving on the cap of movements that were not exported, I have never seen and I therefore infer that the possibility that the engraving was done in America cannot be ruled out - in this case, it may have been done by the engraver employed by Talbott. I conclude that it would be dangerous to draw conclusions as to the age of the movement, solely based upon the period when W H Talbot & Co. were active.

John
 

John Cote

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John,

Thanks very much. I had encountered some of this in my quick internet search but not all of it. East Washington St, just east of Meridian and the first block just west had several of the prominent early jewelers in Indianapolis. There were still jewelry stores on the first block west when I was a little kid. A couple of them were WH Marcy, Bingham & Walk (later Julius Walk and sons). Goodman's came later. Also downtown but off of Washington were Bernloehr & Brothers and Sipe. All of these stores had watchmakers and all sold private label watches from Patek to Vacheron and American brands. I collect as many of these as I can find.
 

Lychnobius

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No. 16394 shows every sign of being a genuine Johnson product (many items signed with this name are not). The dial looks like the work of the same painter who made the dial of my No. 15488; I have not got an adequate photograph of this, but it shows the same technique of using a single line, rather than two, to define the minute and second tracks. Compensated balances were still quite scarce on British watches but were often fitted to items for the American market. The original case would probably have been gold and of American make.

Oliver Mundy.
 

John Cote

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Thanks so much for the information Oliver. I am very proud to have it and will look for some kind of case for it just to keep it safer from the elements.
 

wolfram2

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hi. brand new here. i am going to post what i attempted to send to Oliver Mundy via email. I see that a bunch of you are interested in measuring stuff. if someone's local, i wouldn't mind stuff being measured off of mine.
1607213446955.png
 
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wolfram2

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hi. brand new here. i am going to post what i attempted to send to Oliver Mundy via email. I see that a bunch of you are interested in measuring stuff. if someone's local, i wouldn't mind stuff being measured off of mine.
View attachment 625755
does any one know a place in the boston area that can repair the second hand??
 

Lychnobius

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I have just seen the posting about Wolfram2's watch, which is a fine example and, I feel, absolutely genuine. I have never before heard of an American case with a private coat of arms engraved on it!

The best chance of finding a replacement second-hand is to look out for a collection of such hands on eBay or similar. There is a British vendor, antiquewatchparts, who offers batches of such hands from time to time. Alternatively, a hand from an early American watch such as a Waltham 57 might well fit, although it would probably be on the short side. The hand should probably be blued-steel rather than gilt. These hands were not standardised and it is purely the luck of the draw to find one whose pipe is of the right diameter to fit the arbor.

Oliver Mundy.
 

Thor Bill

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Is this one also a J.J. PL ?

- dial "Warranted Time Keeper 13876"
- movement "Wm Cooper Liverpool 13876"
- case "Fahys Coin" + # unmatcing


1.jpg 2.jpg 4.jpg
 
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Lychnobius

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Although Thor Bill's watch is certainly a Liverpool product (as it professes to be) and therefore belongs to the same tradition and period as those of John Cote etc., there is nothing to connect it with the Johnson firm; many makers, and many retailers posing as makers, used the same style. It should date from the 1850s. I am puzzled that it seems to be running in the photograph, since the spokes of the balance are invisible, even though the set-up wheel is missing; without this the watch could not be wound, or so I would have thought. (The set-up wheel can be seen in John's example at the beginning of this thread, just above the serial number.) Perhaps the balance just happened to be swinging under its own momentum when the picture was taken.

Oliver Mundy.
 
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