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Joseph Johnson No. 6287 help please!

Jay Mattson

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Feb 17, 2019
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Hello, I have a Joseph Johnson pocket watch that I am hoping to find some information on. The movement is marked Jos H Johnson No.6287 Liverpool. The case has three makers marks, a shield, a lion, and a letter in old English that I can't decipher. It also has the letters WC in regular script and the serial number. I have some pics but my camera is terrible. What year was it made? Where would I find someone capable of repairing it? IMG_20190217_183628.jpg IMG_20190217_183905.jpg IMG_20190217_183812.jpg Can anyone help?
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hello Jay- You have a nice example of a Joseph Johndon pocket watch from Liverpool. It would help if you coud post photographs of the hallmarks inside the case. The case looks to be in good condition, but could be later than the movement.One of the members on this board keeps a record of the Johnson pocket watches, and I am sure he will contact you. Your watch was made c1818-the shield on the back of your case would indicate c1840-45.
 

gmorse

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Hi Jay, and welcome to the forum,

The marks in your case are important in knowing when, where and by whom the case was assayed, (not necessarily made though). The lion is the mark for sterling silver, (0.925 pure), the shield and its contents are the assay office, the Old English letter is the year of assaying and the 'WC' is the case maker. Since each assay office used its own different series of date letters, we do need to know what's in that shield to be sure of finding the meaning of the date letter and also the case maker. The main assay offices in the UK which you're likely to find in watch cases are London, (a full-face leopard's head), Birmingham, (an anchor), or Chester, (three wheat sheaves and a sword).

As the watch is signed for Liverpool, Chester is a likely assay office, although one of the other two is possible; the exact style of the letters, the way they're punched, ('incuse' punched into the metal usually without a surrounding shield, or in shallow relief inside a shield), and the shape of the shield they're in, (if any), are all important in identifying the case maker. No two case makers could be registered with the same mark in the same assay office at the same time, so small variations in the punch are important to note. Even the presence or absence of a full stop between the letters, whether the surround is rectangular with or without cut corners, oval or some other shape are all significant.

The date letter series for Chester 1839-63, Birmingham 1824-48 and London 1836-55 are all in what could be described as an 'Old English' letter style, and all these date ranges are possible for this watch.

If you can describe these marks more exactly, in the absence of a picture, this will be a great help.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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Sep 22, 2015
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Hi Jay - welcome to the forum.

Watches signed Johnson, Liverpool are frequently discussed here. The member who maintains the database is Oliver Munday and you can find a copy on Oliver's web site here. There is a link at the bottom of the page.

You will see that there are many movements listed in order of their serial number. Your example falls into range of serial numbers that Oliver has marked as 'spurious' and he explains what he means by that term in the introduction and has appended further explanation for any entry so marked. I suspect he may suggest that attribute for your example, which I believe is probably a 7 jewel single roller or possibly a Massey variant. It has features from which some might infer that it may have had some of the finishing done in Coventry. Oliver is the expert - so be guided by him.

John
 
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gmorse

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Hi Jay,

It has features from which some might infer that it may have had some of the finishing done in Coventry.
Apart from the 'Liverpool' on the movement, your watch certainly doesn't show any of the features usually associated with the area of the Northwest of England which was one of the major watchmaking centres of the country in the 19th century. These are mostly related to specific designs and motifs in the engraving and decoration visible on the top plate, notably 'petal' patterns around the balance cock jewel and retaining screw, and the shape of the markings on the regulator scale. Many Liverpool watches also had very large train jewels in the top plate, known as 'Liverpool Windows' because of their exceptional size.

Note that the exploded diagrams of a full-plate English watch on Oliver's website don't follow the commonly accepted nomenclature of naming the plate carrying the dial the 'pillar' or 'bottom' plate, and the one bearing the balance the 'top' or 'potence' plate. There are a few other misnomers, such as 'pawl' for 'click', but the naming of the plates can cause some confusion.

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Jay-If and when you look up Mr. Munday´s list please read with care what he has to say in section 7. The number of your watch actually fits into the Joseph Johnson watches very well, and I feel we should all wait to see what Oliver Monday has to say about your watch. Though my interest in your watch is the number, and when you look at the 6 thousand numbers, most have a red Astarix-that does not indicate your watch was not sold by Johnson-it just proves he bought the watch in from some other party, (Coventry?) who had the watch signed for him, and of course it would be of a different style than that used in Liverpool. Below is an interesting letter from Kenneth Shanks, and this tells you how the trade acted all those years ago.
Its much like business today-if you cannot fill an order, you get what you are selling elswhere, and fill the order. Its easier if you are selling beans, and not watches, but thats how it works.

In the letter below the watch shown by Johnson-is in the main what collectors like to see and collect, and you can see the differenve between yours and this one-though like I say-lets wait for Mr. Monday.

IMG_7003.JPG IMG_7004.JPG
 

Jay Mattson

Registered User
Feb 17, 2019
8
7
3
36
Country
Hello Jay- You have a nice example of a Joseph Johndon pocket watch from Liverpool. It would help if you coud post photographs of the hallmarks inside the case. The case looks to be in good condition, but could be later than the movement.One of the members on this board keeps a record of the Johnson pocket watches, and I am sure he will contact you. Your watch was made c1818-the shield on the back of your case would indicate c1840-45.
Thank you for helping! I tried to take better pics, here they are. the number inside the case matches the number on the movement, would they make a case for a watch that was made 20+ years earlier? IMG_20190218_074046.jpg IMG_20190218_074100.jpg
 

Jay Mattson

Registered User
Feb 17, 2019
8
7
3
36
Country
Hi Jay, and welcome to the forum,

The marks in your case are important in knowing when, where and by whom the case was assayed, (not necessarily made though). The lion is the mark for sterling silver, (0.925 pure), the shield and its contents are the assay office, the Old English letter is the year of assaying and the 'WC' is the case maker. Since each assay office used its own different series of date letters, we do need to know what's in that shield to be sure of finding the meaning of the date letter and also the case maker. The main assay offices in the UK which you're likely to find in watch cases are London, (a full-face leopard's head), Birmingham, (an anchor), or Chester, (three wheat sheaves and a sword).

As the watch is signed for Liverpool, Chester is a likely assay office, although one of the other two is possible; the exact style of the letters, the way they're punched, ('incuse' punched into the metal usually without a surrounding shield, or in shallow relief inside a shield), and the shape of the shield they're in, (if any), are all important in identifying the case maker. No two case makers could be registered with the same mark in the same assay office at the same time, so small variations in the punch are important to note. Even the presence or absence of a full stop between the letters, whether the surround is rectangular with or without cut corners, oval or some other shape are all significant.

The date letter series for Chester 1839-63, Birmingham 1824-48 and London 1836-55 are all in what could be described as an 'Old English' letter style, and all these date ranges are possible for this watch.

If you can describe these marks more exactly, in the absence of a picture, this will be a great help.

Regards,

Graham

Thank you for the info! I will post some better pictures as I'm not sure how to describe them better.
 

Jay Mattson

Registered User
Feb 17, 2019
8
7
3
36
Country
Thank you all so much! I have contacted Mr. munday and eagerly await his response. here are the best pics I can get of the hallmarks. I am getting a new phone with a way better camera tomorrow, better quality to come IMG_20190218_074046.jpg IMG_20190218_074100.jpg
 

Jay Mattson

Registered User
Feb 17, 2019
8
7
3
36
Country
Hi Jay-If and when you look up Mr. Munday´s list please read with care what he has to say in section 7. The number of your watch actually fits into the Joseph Johnson watches very well, and I feel we should all wait to see what Oliver Monday has to say about your watch. Though my interest in your watch is the number, and when you look at the 6 thousand numbers, most have a red Astarix-that does not indicate your watch was not sold by Johnson-it just proves he bought the watch in from some other party, (Coventry?) who had the watch signed for him, and of course it would be of a different style than that used in Liverpool. Below is an interesting letter from Kenneth Shanks, and this tells you how the trade acted all those years ago.
Its much like business today-if you cannot fill an order, you get what you are selling elswhere, and fill the order. Its easier if you are selling beans, and not watches, but thats how it works.

In the letter below the watch shown by Johnson-is in the main what collectors like to see and collect, and you can see the differenve between yours and this one-though like I say-lets wait for Mr. Monday.

View attachment 518760 View attachment 518761
fantastic! it makes sense to outsource if you can't keep up with demand and I do see the difference in the styles. I have contacted Mr. Munday as well and I can't wait to hear what he has to say about it
 

Lychnobius

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Aug 5, 2015
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I have to say that I do not feel that No. 6287 is a genuine Johnson watch. Graham has already hinted at some of the reasons for this doubt. To be more specific: –

1. The decoration on the cock (the bracket which holds the balance-wheel in place) is not in the three-dimensional style – carved in low relief rather than engraved – which was usual in Liverpool watches from about 1810 to the 1850s. I shall attach an example of a 'relief' cock, from Johnson No. 15488 which I believe dates from about 1838.

2. As Graham has said, the scale for the regulator is also not in Liverpool style; the central motif and the use of rectangular divisions rather than a row of decorative 'arrowheads' are usually associated with the midland city of Coventry. Again, No. 15488 shows the Liverpool style.

3. If Johnson's serial numbers are truly sequential (which I admit is not established beyond all doubt), a real No. 6287 should date from around 1824. I do not think the shape of cock shown here was in use at so early a date, although examples are found only a few years later. My second image, from No. 5680, shows the usual pattern at that period.

I believe Allan is correct in placing No. 6287 in the 1840s. It is a perfectly respectable English movement, quite possibly as good as Johnson's own although it has fewer jewels than most. A very high proportion of Johnson's output was exported to the United States, where these watches were highly regarded, and the temptation for lesser 'makers' (who were in fact often no more than retailers) to put Johnson's name on their own wares must have been almost irresistible. This piece is slightly unusual in having what appears to be an English silver case; usually the movements were exported without cases, these being supplied on arrival (usually in gold) by New York craftsmen. The engine-turning on the back of the case is unusually clear, suggesting that the watch has had relatively little use. Like the other contributors, I should like to see images of the internal marks.

My policy is to include doubtful items like this in my database (see Pocket Watches for a link to this), since I may be wrong in rejecting them; Allan's comment, '[Y]ou get what you are selling elsewhere, and fill the order', could well be the truth of the matter in some of these instances at least. No. 6287 will therefore have a place in the next revision, and I am grateful to Jay for bringing it to our attention.

Oliver Mundy.

[I must apologise for the small size of the image of No. 15488. For some reason I have not got a larger one, and I cannot re-photograph the movement until tomorrow. 5680 also shows the relief-engraved cock and the characteristic regulator scale.]

johnson_5680_back_03.jpg

johnson_15488_movement.jpg
 
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John Matthews

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Jay - the case is hallmarked for London 1849/50 and the maker's mark 'WC' incuse is that of William Carter, 22 Galway Street, St Lukes, London. The mark registered 29 January 1841

John
 
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Lychnobius

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Aug 5, 2015
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Note that the exploded diagrams of a full-plate English watch on Oliver's website don't follow the commonly accepted nomenclature of naming the plate carrying the dial the 'pillar' or 'bottom' plate, and the one bearing the balance the 'top' or 'potence' plate. There are a few other misnomers, such as 'pawl' for 'click', but the naming of the plates can cause some confusion.
Of course Graham is right. There are still many gaps in my knowledge, and when I created these diagrams (some fifteen years ago) there were many more. Unfortunately I no longer have the source files – the software with which I created them does not run on modern computers – and cannot edit them. I rescued them from a long-derelict site of mine because I thought they were better than nothing.

Oliver Mundy.
 
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Lychnobius

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Since writing the above I have seen Jay's images of the hallmarks, which are London marks for 1849. There is no indication that the case is not original; if it were a replacement, one would expect to see that the keyhole in the dome had been modified or a new one cut.

Oliver Mundy.
 
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Keith R...

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Thanks guys, I was waiting on Oliver.

Allan, it's Mundy, not Monday.

Jay, welcome to the world of collecting English levers!

Keith R...
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Allan, it's Mundy, not Monday.
Sorry Oliver- I think I have said often enough I have problems with my right eye at the moment-and the operation is not till March with luck, but maybe later. I re-read what I write, but reading through a Monday is Monday. Please forgive me.
 

gmorse

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Hi Jay,

...the case is hallmarked for London 1849/50...
Thanks for the case pictures. Just to clarify, the London assay office used to change its date letter in May each year, which is why John stated the date the way he did. From 1975 all the assay offices changed their dates on January 1st, so much easier to remember!

Regards,

Graham
 
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Omexa

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Hi Allan, about 10 years ago I could not see very well; I had cataracts in both eyes; I could not see my friends face properly over a table in a Bar; I did not know it was him until he spoke. I had new Plastic Soft Lenses put in both eyes at Royal Darwin Hospital and now Watch Repairs are no problem. I was lucky I had the best eye Surgeon in Australia, Dr Thalmalingam Mahendrarajah. I hope all goes well. Regards Ray
I have problems with my right eye at the moment
 

Keith R...

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Allan, Ray gets on me at times and I go back and look at a watch with my right eye closed (the foggy one).
Best of luck with surgery.

Keith R...
 

Jay Mattson

Registered User
Feb 17, 2019
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I have to say that I do not feel that No. 6287 is a genuine Johnson watch. Graham has already hinted at some of the reasons for this doubt. To be more specific: –

1. The decoration on the cock (the bracket which holds the balance-wheel in place) is not in the three-dimensional style – carved in low relief rather than engraved – which was usual in Liverpool watches from about 1810 to the 1850s. I shall attach an example of a 'relief' cock, from Johnson No. 15488 which I believe dates from about 1838.

2. As Graham has said, the scale for the regulator is also not in Liverpool style; the central motif and the use of rectangular divisions rather than a row of decorative 'arrowheads' are usually associated with the midland city of Coventry. Again, No. 15488 shows the Liverpool style.

3. If Johnson's serial numbers are truly sequential (which I admit is not established beyond all doubt), a real No. 6287 should date from around 1824. I do not think the shape of cock shown here was in use at so early a date, although examples are found only a few years later. My second image, from No. 5680, shows the usual pattern at that period.

I believe Allan is correct in placing No. 6287 in the 1840s. It is a perfectly respectable English movement, quite possibly as good as Johnson's own although it has fewer jewels than most. A very high proportion of Johnson's output was exported to the United States, where these watches were highly regarded, and the temptation for lesser 'makers' (who were in fact often no more than retailers) to put Johnson's name on their own wares must have been almost irresistible. This piece is slightly unusual in having what appears to be an English silver case; usually the movements were exported without cases, these being supplied on arrival (usually in gold) by New York craftsmen. The engine-turning on the back of the case is unusually clear, suggesting that the watch has had relatively little use. Like the other contributors, I should like to see images of the internal marks.

My policy is to include doubtful items like this in my database (see Pocket Watches for a link to this), since I may be wrong in rejecting them; Allan's comment, '[Y]ou get what you are selling elsewhere, and fill the order', could well be the truth of the matter in some of these instances at least. No. 6287 will therefore have a place in the next revision, and I am grateful to Jay for bringing it to our attention.

Oliver Mundy.

[I must apologise for the small size of the image of No. 15488. For some reason I have not got a larger one, and I cannot re-photograph the movement until tomorrow. 5680 also shows the relief-engraved cock and the characteristic regulator scale.]

View attachment 518771

View attachment 518770

Thank you so much for your helping me, and I am thrilled to have your input on this.
I have to say that I do not feel that No. 6287 is a genuine Johnson watch. Graham has already hinted at some of the reasons for this doubt. To be more specific: –

1. The decoration on the cock (the bracket which holds the balance-wheel in place) is not in the three-dimensional style – carved in low relief rather than engraved – which was usual in Liverpool watches from about 1810 to the 1850s. I shall attach an example of a 'relief' cock, from Johnson No. 15488 which I believe dates from about 1838.

2. As Graham has said, the scale for the regulator is also not in Liverpool style; the central motif and the use of rectangular divisions rather than a row of decorative 'arrowheads' are usually associated with the midland city of Coventry. Again, No. 15488 shows the Liverpool style.

3. If Johnson's serial numbers are truly sequential (which I admit is not established beyond all doubt), a real No. 6287 should date from around 1824. I do not think the shape of cock shown here was in use at so early a date, although examples are found only a few years later. My second image, from No. 5680, shows the usual pattern at that period.

I believe Allan is correct in placing No. 6287 in the 1840s. It is a perfectly respectable English movement, quite possibly as good as Johnson's own although it has fewer jewels than most. A very high proportion of Johnson's output was exported to the United States, where these watches were highly regarded, and the temptation for lesser 'makers' (who were in fact often no more than retailers) to put Johnson's name on their own wares must have been almost irresistible. This piece is slightly unusual in having what appears to be an English silver case; usually the movements were exported without cases, these being supplied on arrival (usually in gold) by New York craftsmen. The engine-turning on the back of the case is unusually clear, suggesting that the watch has had relatively little use. Like the other contributors, I should like to see images of the internal marks.

My policy is to include doubtful items like this in my database (see Pocket Watches for a link to this), since I may be wrong in rejecting them; Allan's comment, '[Y]ou get what you are selling elsewhere, and fill the order', could well be the truth of the matter in some of these instances at least. No. 6287 will therefore have a place in the next revision, and I am grateful to Jay for bringing it to our attention.

Oliver Mundy.

[I must apologise for the small size of the image of No. 15488. For some reason I have not got a larger one, and I cannot re-photograph the movement until tomorrow. 5680 also shows the relief-engraved cock and the characteristic regulator scale.]

View attachment 518771

View attachment 518770
Thank you so very much, I can definitely see the difference
Since writing the above I have seen Jay's images of the hallmarks, which are London marks for 1849. There is no indication that the case is not original; if it were a replacement, one would expect to see that the keyhole in the dome had been modified or a new one cut.

Oliver Mundy.
Thank you so much for the information mr. Mundy! Apologies for getting your name wrong! it is great to have this information and to know that the Hallmark is from 1849. That gives me an idea as to when my great-great-grandfather obtained it. My grandfather will be very happy to hear this. I'm also flattered that I can help you expand your database, I love sharing my treasures!
 

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