Joseph Johnson Liverpool

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Robert Stroud, Sep 8, 2019.

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  1. Robert Stroud

    Robert Stroud Registered User
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    All,

    I’ve read some of the 2016 thread about single table rollers; in fishing parlance, you guys know how to set the hook!

    Thank you for your interest. I’ll keep looking.

    Best regards,
     
  2. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Robert,

    To continue the analogy, 'teach a man to fish . . .'; you know the rest!

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  3. Keith R...

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    If I recall, D. Penney's had an STR from about 1819.

    Keith R...
     
  4. Robert Stroud

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    Here are a few more photos, the last two with flash to get a little deeper. John Graham’s post from yesterday pointing out landmarks of theType V was very helpful. I see a darker metal inverted truncated cone shape protrusion near the bottom of the gold disc, which I suppose is the roller disc, but it doesn’t resemble anything I see on John’s post of the types of movements isolated in his Wednesday post.

    The donut shape collet that I see, and see mentioned in posts, is easier to see from a different angle, just in the center of the last photo above and right of the case latch. It’s on the same shaft.

    Thanks to all for any insight!

    Best,

    717676CF-9C9E-4CFE-BD10-6406CE207802.jpeg 33253E6C-52AE-4663-A8C6-59C98D7D78E2.jpeg A5752E30-D11D-4161-9161-FDA85A1A9DE0.jpeg 18E355CC-7D6A-4AFB-8C4A-26947923BFAD.jpeg
     
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  5. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Robert,

    I think, from your fourth picture, that you have the angle just right to capture a single table roller, with a plain disc and the impulse jewel pin pointing downwards. The date of the case does have some bearing on this, although there are several possibilities here; the case may not be original, the roller may be a later conversion, the case date may be the later of the two identified ones, or you may have a very early example of an English single table roller. The date of this innovation is constantly being pushed back, and the lack of an identified inventor doesn't help.

    All credit to PL for his suggestion!

    As has been mentioned, the appearance of the word 'Patent' on the movement doesn't necessarily mean that it does contain a patented feature. Conversions of this type were not uncommon and they're quite difficult to detect, even with the movement dismantled; those to levers from cylinders or duplexes leave more obvious traces as a rule.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  6. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Robert,

    What I think you are seeing there is the end of the dovetail which is carrying the lower endstone for the balance staff. It's mounted in the brass 'bracket' which holds the lower pivot which is known as the potence, (other spellings may be met with). I've added an STR for good measure.

    DSCF6185.JPG DSCF6188.JPG DSCF6748.JPG

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  7. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    #57 John Matthews, Sep 15, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
    Robert - I have blown up your photograph

    upload_2019-9-16_0-1-33.png

    Green - roller - plain disc
    Blue - lever
    Red - impulse jewel

    It certainly looks as if it could be a single roller ...

    upload_2019-9-16_0-12-3.png

    John

    Posted in parallel with Graham

    Edit - this cock has 'Patent Lever' which is relatively uncommon - I could only spot 3 in Oliver's database
     
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  8. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Robert,

    You can also see, next to John's blue arrow, the vertical brass pin in the lever at the inner end, which is part of a safety mechanism to prevent the escapement from unlocking except when the lever is in the correct position. Massey escapements don't have this pin, they use a different mechanism.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  9. Robert Stroud

    Robert Stroud Registered User
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    John, it was your posts I was trying to credit earlier. Thanks so much.
     
  10. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Robert - you are welcome ... performing this type of detective work - is a pleasure :)

    John
     
  11. Robert Stroud

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    This one has lots of leads, but still is...ahem...a cold case.
     
  12. Allan C. Purcell

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    Robert, You will by now know your watch is of great interest. If has, John and Graham say, the watch is a single roller, (I too agree) and the case is original, and it as not been converted, you will own a very rare watch indeed. In fact, it would then be the first table roller known. There is a book called "Watch & Clock Making" by David Glasgow written in 1883. Writing on page 182 about the lever escapement, he says, "These difficulties brought about various modifications until the introduction, by another Liverpool man, of what is now called the table roller" It is this remark that sets people to look for this Liverpool maker- it just might be Joseph Johnson- but before you jump up and down- you need to have the watch and case verified. I am quite sure there are members who would be willing to take on the task-a PM to John could help you. I do hope it turns out to be the end of a long search. Good Luck, Allan.
     
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  13. Robert Stroud

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    Thanks, Allan

    It's an interesting quest. You and your fellow contributors have made it informative and intriguing as well. I’m considering what to do next, and wondering what “having the watch and case verified” actually entails and what level of acceptance of the results might be expected. As I see it, there are 3 perfectly understandable “ifs”. Will an expert with the watch in hand be able to conclusively tell (1) if the case is original, (2) the date is about 1815-16, and (3) it was not a later conversion of an earlier movement?

    I’m sure an answer to any one of the three would move the ball down the field, and I realize there are things that probably will not be known after the verification process. Just curious about the process.

    Regards, Bob
     
  14. John Matthews

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    Robert

    In my opinion, there is little doubt (but one always needs to have an element of doubt!) that the case has genuine hallmarks and that they are for 1815/16. Although using the movement serial number as an indication of the age of a movement, is never entirely reliable, in the case of Johnson movements, it is probably a little more reliable than some. So, taking the case hallmarks and the serial number together, I believe on balance there is more than a 50% chance, that the movement is in its original case.

    However this is the main problem ...


    There are relatively few 'experts', even in the UK, who have the necessary knowledge and analytical skills to take on the task. Furthermore, if the conversation was done by the best artisans of the period, detection my be impossible even when the movement is dismantled into its component parts.

    Your watch is potentially a significant piece in our understanding the timeline of escapement development in the second decade of the the C19th and it would definitely be worth seeking out someone who has the necessary skills to do the analysis.

    John
     
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  15. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Robert,

    On a positive note, it seems very likely that the evolution of the Massey detached levers into the English STR lever was initiated by a worker (or workers) in the Liverpool area. It was a centre of innovation at the time.

    An old thread included some reference to an early two-pin lever by Parkinson & Frodsham, which may be interesting.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  16. Robert Stroud

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    John and Graham,

    Thank you. I’ve read earlier in this thread that it was not uncommon for these movements to be sent to the Staes uncased, perhaps to avoid tariffs. Is there any evidence that conversions of the type you’re talking about took place in the States in the 1816-1838 time period, or was that predominantly an English enterprise?

    Best, Bob
     
  17. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Bob,

    I'm not aware of any evidence that these conversions were done in the US. Perhaps that's why we see so many Masseys still in the US, many in their original American-made cases.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  18. John Matthews

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    Robert in the context of your watch and also your question regarding activity on your side of the pond, this is worth a read.

    I understand from David that he hopes to publish more information in the on the Pearman watch 'at some point'. He has also been talking of producing a more comprehensive paper on the 'Liverpool Levers'.

    John
     
  19. Lychnobius

    Lychnobius Registered User

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    I notice that No. 709 in the database has the same assay office and date-letter (Chester, with a roman capital T for 1815–16) as Robert's No. 1072 but is signed as sponsor by Thomas Helsby alone rather than by Thomas and John. Would a given firm of case-makers have used two different sponsorship marks at the same time? In other words, can both cases be genuine? Naturally I very much want to believe that 1072 is all it seems to be, since if this is so it is an important piece of horological history. I note that the watch has been in Robert's family for at least 180 years; if it has spent all that time in the United States we can at least say as a strong probability that any conversion of the escapement would have been carried out before it left Britain, since there were so very few people in America capable of doing such work until the national watchmaking industry began to develop in the early 1850s and we know that this watch already had its present escapement by 1844.

    I have just revised my database at Pocket Watches to include this item, with what I hope is a reasonable summary of the present state of our knowledge regarding it.

    Oliver Mundy.
     
  20. PapaLouies

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    Hi Robert,
    If I owned this watch I would send it off to Graham for analysis and servicing.
    Regards, PL
     
  21. Allan C. Purcell

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    #71 Allan C. Purcell, Sep 17, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
    Before going on here, I would like people to know I am really pleased about this Johnson watch, and like all on this thread at the moment, I too believe the watch to be original. You will also remember I started "Early English Single Table Roller Escapements" in the hope of finding an early example in America, and this watch seems to be the answer. Though I also think it should be tested to the limit from what we can see at the moment.




    American Silver Marks J - Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers' Marks
     
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  22. John Matthews

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    Oliver - Yes, I believe it is possible that both are genuine, although as I found here tying down exactly who JH was, is not straightforward.

    The other mark that is familiar to watch collectors is [T,H/J.H] for which there are no records in the PDBs. Note that the registered mark is not [TH/JH] and marks of this form, without the two separating periods should, in my opinion, be viewed with suspicion. The authentic mark is recorded by R&P as being registered to Thomas and John Helsby at 26 Vauxhall Road, Liverpool. This location was occupied by Thomas Helsby from 1807 to 1820. It is important to note that a precise date of registration is not provided. Cases are known from 1815 onwards. As with [TH&CO], there are no PDB records, I infer that for both marks the items were submitted in the name of Thomas Helsby.

    I could find no trade directories listing Thomas and John Helsby.

    A research project for someone!

    Here is a starter ...

    upload_2019-9-17_18-12-33.png

    key to sources ...

    upload_2019-9-17_18-13-27.png

    John
     
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  23. Robert Stroud

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    My son, an IT person, says that forums like this are the "best of the Internet", and I agree. This all started with a simple post 11 days ago, and has brought forth so much scholarship and genuine interest that I am humbled by the information and encouragement received.

    It's not likely I will stop at this point in the quest to learn more, and to be able to add to the discussions mentioned in Mr Mundy's database. Wow!

    My best to all!

    Robert
     
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  24. Allan C. Purcell

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    I don´t know what happened to the rest of my post 71, so I will re-write here. On Roberts watch are the letters JJ stamped in the case, plus the number of the watch, and it worried me. The worry was, having seen the three watches much like Roberts on the Chester Hallmarks thread, all three have JJ stamped on them, and lead me to look at other Liverpool watches I have for that period, and none have the number stamped on the case. It appears numbers in cases are not a Liverpool thing, at that period. maybe later. I am sure we will hear more on this- I am still looking into it. I also wrote that members should look at "Joseph Jackson Baltimore MD & Richmond VA. Active Baltimore 1803-31. Except for 1815-17 at Richmond.
     
  25. Allan C. Purcell

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    f-8.JPG Chester 1826/27 Thomas Helsby& Co. no number on the case. (More on Chester Hallmarks-Photographed Thread.)
     
  26. Allan C. Purcell

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    Hi John,
    TH&Co. Priestley page 111 Incuse G.1816-38 THOMAS HELSBY & COMPANY, 22 Northampton Street 1827 Liverpool (Case HM 1825/26) Below that T.H-J.H Incuse Thomas & John Helsby 26 Vauxhall road 1807-21 Liverpool.
    Allan.
     
  27. John Matthews

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    Allan

    I think you will find that while some Liverpool cases of this period do carry the serial number of the encased movement, others do not.

    I have done a quick search and many of the examples which carry the 'genuine' Thomas and John Helsby mark ...

    upload_2019-9-17_21-44-53.png

    that I found, are stamped with the movement serial number. There are a number of examples in the Johnson thread that are also recorded in Oliver's database. Whether a case maker added the movement serial number, may have been a personal decision, possibly driven by the sensible precaution when working on a batch of cases, or may have been a requirement placed on the case maker by his client. In my opinion, you would need a large sample to draw any meaningful conclusions regarding which combination of case maker and Liverpool 'maker' produced cases that were stamped/not stamped with the movement number.

    John
     
  28. Allan C. Purcell

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    John, I think that is the case, though we are talking about Liverpool only-it seems numbers on cases from London we see more often. Roberts watch is so interesting, I think it will take a while to sort out, there must be someone in America that can help him? Has anyone got a 1815/16 or 1817/18-1818/19 with the watch number on the watch case, out there other than Robert's?

    Allan
     
  29. John Matthews

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    #79 John Matthews, Sep 17, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
    As I said ...

    e.g. Johnson #2605, 2779, 2785, 2858 - all 1818 all with [TH/JH]. All rack levers!

    The issue is whether Robert's watch has its original escapement ....

    John
     
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  30. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Quite Right John, plus the "Patent Lever" on the cock?

    Allan.
     
  31. PapaLouies

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    Hi All,
    Frame makers marks on the pillar plate, if any, could help fix the date of the movement.
    Also scratch marks on the back of the Gold dial may reveal it's maker.
    Regards, PL
     
  32. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Occasionally they're also properly hallmarked.
     
  33. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Identifiable maker's marks on Lancashire pillar plates prior to 1840 that can be used to date movements, in my experience, are very uncommon. Early Massey movements with EMP & D, rarely found from ~1815 is one exception and some of the variants of 'JP' also seem to be early, Currently, I do not believe there is sufficient collated data that can be used to date movements reliably in the first half of the C19th.

    That would be a really useful, but unfortunately, as Graham indicates, many, possibly the majority, carry no hallmarks and others carry a purity mark and are without a town mark and date letter.

    John
     
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  34. PapaLouies

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    Nothing ventured nothing gained!
    William Helsby & John Preston.
    Regards, PL
     
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  35. PapaLouies

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    What a Gold dial may reveal.
    IMG_1890.JPG IMG_1891.JPG IMG_1892.JPG
    Regards, PL
     
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  36. Lychnobius

    Lychnobius Registered User

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    In writing about the hallmarks in Nos. 709 and 1072, I should have added that the former shows much the same leopard's face as the latter, with no identifiable crown.

    Thanks to John for his comments on the JJ mark and on my query regarding the different sponsorship marks used by the Helsbys.

    Oliver Mundy.
     
  37. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    If you are really really lucky with the dial you could get a known maker's mark together with a partial hallmark as ...

    upload_2019-9-19_18-27-30.png

    upload_2019-9-19_18-28-7.png

    this example discussed here.

    Oliver - you may find this helpful from Ridgeway & Priestley

    Leopard's Head001.jpg

    As Dave Green has recently pointed out the crown becomes progressively more indistinct prior to the change in 1822. It is, in my opinion, better/safer to use the shape of the cartouche as you can see from these examples ...

    1818/19 on the left & 1828/28 on the right

    20180322 009.jpg ...... 20190709 003.jpg

    John
     
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  38. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    I think it's worth mentioning that a gold dial with English hallmarks could still have been sourced from outside the UK and submitted for assay along with the case by the case maker. Quite what he'd have done if it failed the assay I'm not sure!

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  39. PapaLouies

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    If Robert's watch has not been in America for more than 180 years that would put it in Liverpool at about 1839.
    A good deal of time to convert it from its initial construction from Massey to STR.
    Regards, PL
     
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  40. Robert Stroud

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    Papa Louies is correct. From a horological point of view, plenty is unknown.

    About all I can be certain of is that it was lost in Arkansas in 1844, and found and returned to its owner. It was "quite...old" when lost, had been neatly patched, etc. I'm endeavoring to search estate records of the owner's father, grandfather, etc., in the off chance it might have been inherited and mentioned in probate records. It is of course possible that it was bought or traded for by the owner at the time, F. W. Desha.

    What I know about him and his family is that none came directly from England. His father, Robert Montgomery Desha, was raised in Kentucky and was in the the Marine Corps in Washington, DC, and became paymaster of the Marines on the Mississippi. He died of yellow fever in New Orleans in 1822. His grandfather was a controversial governor of Kentucky in the late 1820's. His first American family were apparently Huguenots who fled France after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, going to New York, Pennsylvania then Kentucky. F. W. was born in 1820 in Washington.

    F. W. attended college and studied law in Kentucky, and was admitted to the bar in Arkansas in 1845, just a year after the watch was lost. F. W. was my mother's great-grandfather and the watch was handed down to her with the reward notice alongside. My late father, Robert S Stroud, preserved it after my mother died and it's been in its current condition to my knowledge since at least 1965, and probably the same since F. W. died in 1869.

    None of this accounts for what could have happened to the watch from 1815 to 1844. After all, it was lost at 2 in the morning near a wharf-boat landing on the Mississippi River! For all we really know right now it could have been won in a poker game. But something about the watch and its story makes it feel genuine to me.

    I hope to find out more one of these days about both its provenance and what has happened inside its case. I do wonder if the inscription on the patch has any dating relevance. It appears to say A & D, above the numerals 327. Could that be for March, 1827? The case is very worn. The crack which is patched could have occurred before or after the extensive wear.

    I certainly realize it is a long shot that this watch could be a missing link, but in a very real sense it doesn't matter to me and my family. What we already know is intriguing and valuable enough!

    Regards,

    Bob Stroud
     
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  41. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi John, Did you look at "FH" in the new Priestley, Frederick Humbert. He was in 1826 in partnership with Philibert Mathey at 20 Hyde Street, Bloomsbury. Could have been on his own at some time?
     
  42. John Matthews

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    Yes - Humbert is the maker assigned as in the original post.

    John
     
  43. Robert Stroud

    Robert Stroud Registered User
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    In Oliver Mundy’s Johnson database there are 3 movements listed with the cock inscription “Patent/Lever”. 2 of those are listed as in the NAWCC collection. Where is that viewable?
     

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