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Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Keith R..., May 5, 2015.
PL, you should case this nice Johnson. Keith
I like to keep movements as found for research purposes.
My friend has given me permission to post photos of the JOSH JOHNSON Rack Lever 2605 I had discussed with you. The hands are an obvious replacement and the dial is not signed, which to me seems unusual. This watch has a 3-wheel train, a 30 tooth escape wheel, the proper seconds chapter and an adjustable slide. I hope the photos show all other particulars.
For comparison see John Pavlik's ( JOSH JOHNSON 2779 ) at post #135 this Thread.
Oliver, Another for your database.
My thanks once more to PapaLouies for this valuable addition to the record. At last we have hallmark evidence which is unambiguous* and does not contradict what I already took as fact! A Helsby case, if I mistake not (like John Pavlik's), with Chester marks for 1818.
Apart from 5969 whose dial is not original (it mentions '19 jewels' whereas the movement has only seven), the earliest dial signature known to me on a genuine Johnson is that of my own No. 15488.
This is only the second Johnson rack-lever to have emerged so far.
*Only, where is the king's head?
The Duty Mark wasn't required in watch cases after 1798.
The case maker's mark is indeed for Thomas & John Helsby, although Priestley doesn't quote a registration date in the Chester office, only a reference in the Gore's street directories dated 1820/1830.
Are you saying there is no authentic Joseph Johnson watch with a signed dial after John Pavlik's 2779 until your 15488?
I have not, but are you making a distinction between signed and inscribed? Unfortunately we do not have the benefit of the photos used in your analysis of the Johnson watches.
Graham several times has provided me with a one word link to photos. Although he has instructed me as to the method, it is beyond my bag of tricks.
It has occurred to me that if you could include a one word link in the database to the photos used in your analysis of each item it would greatly enrich the database. Just a thought.
The images from which I have derived most of the database information come from a variety of sources, and in most cases I have no idea who owns them. I must admit that I have saved them all (about 200 so far) to my hard disc so that I can refresh and, where necessary, correct my interpretation of them, but I feel it would be a very different and far more controversial matter to make them available, whether directly or through a hyperlink, in a published medium such as the database. As a simple matter of self-defence, I dare not undertake to circulate them in this way. I should however be happy to send copies privately to PapaLouies or anyone else among us who may wish to check my sources; that is surely legitimate, or at any rate no more questionable than the use I have already made of them myself.
To date I do not know of any genuine Johnson which is inscribed but not signed. No. 7920 bears the one word PATENT, but I believe this watch is spurious.
Described on your database is a JOSH JOHNSON No. 25,680 from my collection. May I ask, what is it about this watch that you have concluded is either spurious or lacking in authenticity?
Team, this is the Josh Johnson examples thread, not the data base thread.
Although I do enjoy them both.
View attachment 310653
'Described on your database is a JOSH JOHNSON No. 25,680 from my collection. May I ask, what is it about this watch that you have concluded is either spurious or lacking in authenticity?' (PapaLouies)
PapaLouies, I must apologise for this. The asterisk was accidentally left in when I created the entry by editing it from the one above. As I said when you posted the details of this movement, there is nothing in the least questionable about this item. I have made the amendment in the source file and the entry will appear correctly in the next edition.
Oliver, considering PL has an open question in the data base for you, I shall post the
question here. Can you tell me the approximate last serial number from the data base,
that corresponds closest to March 3 1827, Joseph Johnson's last living day?
PS, Note, this question answered in this thread will support past and future Joseph
Johnson examples, as to made during his life time, or continued by the surviving firm.
Unfortunately I have got no fixed points at all between No. 7746 (1825) and No. 10811 (1829), both of these being derived from hallmarks which seem to be genuine and original. Even these do no more than locate the case within a period of twelve months, and of course there is no guarantee that any given movement was cased immediately on being completed.
Many years ago I boldly argued, from appallingly inadequate data, that Johnson's production rate in the 1820s may have run at about 800 units per year. The two datum-points given above do not actually contradict this, and if we accept it for the moment - purely as a hypothesis, not as fact - it will follow that most of the movements produced during 1827 should bear numbers in the 9000s. However, I cannot overstate the risks involved in building any theory on such sparse and ambiguous data. For example, we have no clue as to whether the two examples mentioned were hallmarked early, late or somewhere in between within their date-letter years; the interval between them may be anything from just over three years to just under five. Besides, we have to consider the likelihood that there was a drop in production after Joseph's death, so that the rate of output was not uniform. The questions are endless!
From Martin: The general discussion that started here has now been moved with everyone's consent.
The new thread is "Early Single table Roller Escapements"
See you all there.
I'm unsure if anyone has ever established any link between the MI Tobias firm
"buying out the rights" of the Joseph Johnson name/product line after the death
of Joseph Johnson March 3, 1827.
This was mentioned in Micheal's articles of the November & December bulletins
of the Johnson firm. Does anyone have anymore relevant information confirming
this move by MI Tobias Liverpool? This would be serial numbers post 9,xxx.
View attachment 314091
^Good, sounds like just a rumor. No news is news.
Just so PL knows I'm back, and Ray, and Marty, and Graham............haha....Keith
PS, I fired Josh Johnson 7771 up for 24 hours the other day and it was plus 1 minute
in 24 hours. Not to shabby. K..........
Good to hear from you again, Keith! I am glad to know that Johnson No. 7771 has responded so well to a day's run.
Please see my post #7 at Thread: Henry Dumbell, Liverpool?
Hello Keith ... I am delighted to see you're both alive and kicking!!!!!
How long will it take you now to get ALL your babies up and running?
Thanks guys too all............
Marty, at 100 plus watches, I'd never attempt it..................Keith
I picked up this movement and dial a few days ago. It runs but needs serving. Under the dial is the name W. Abbott. Is it worth looking for an age related case, and if so, what sort of period please.
Nick23's movement is a 17-jewel 'Liverpool runner', i.e. a movement in which the train-wheels from lever to fourth wheel are arranged the opposite way to the usual: the lever is farthest from the spring-barrel (we can see one of the banking-pin ends just above the u of Church) and the fourth wheel is right up against the barrel-bridge. Johnsons are very difficult to date because so many of this company's products were cased in the United States, so that the usual dating information from the hallmarks is not available; however, 'early 1840s' should not be far wrong.
The original case was almost certainly 18-carat gold and probably, as I have said, of American make. As the chances of finding an unattached gold case are negligible, Nick's most realistic hope would probably be for a British silver case of the period 1840-1860. It would probably not be a pair-case, although this style was still viewed with a certain amount of favour among the Scots.
I should like to thank Nick particularly for including an under-dial image showing the frame-maker's name. This information is precious and very rarely comes to light. The notations under the name-stamp indicate the diameter and depth of the movement.
Nick, I believe the one I posted in this thread, sn 14xxx was about 1840. See post number
564 for the movement. Keith R...
My favorite 18K's in reference to Oliver's mention of 18K cases. The one on the left is
my Josh Johnson, the one on the right is my MI Tobias. Both would be around 1824 to
Note both dials with gold embellishments.
I have another Josh Johnson movement if it is of any interest for the Database. I have checked under the dial, but there is no frame maker's name or initials.
Could this John Johnson of Preston be any relation to Josh Johnson of Liverpool?
Thank you, Nick, for the images of movement no. 6116. I suspect that this is not a genuine Johnson, even though it shows every sign of being authentically English and of very reasonable quality. The clues are (1) the ruby (rather than diamond) endstone; (2) the regulator quadrant engraved as a grid instead of a row of arrow-heads; and (3) the meaningless oil-sinks surrounding the banking-pin holes (next to the serial number). Moreover, the serial number itself would imply a date of about 1826-7 whereas the dial here suggests the 1850s.
My practice is to include all questionable Johnsons in the database except those which show unmistakable Swiss features (bar layout, going barrel etc.) I use a red asterisk to indicate items which I consider doubtful. It is always possible that some future discovery will overthrow my arguments, and so I think it best to record too many items rather than too few.
This too (John Johnson of Preston, no. 35133) will have its place in the database, since I include every case where there is even a possibility of a connection to the main family. The hallmark is Chester 1875. I have a listing for No. 5119 by this 'maker'; despite the huge disparity in the numbering, the two items look as if they are quite close together in date although different in style. This may indicate that this John Johnson was only a retailer who obtained his movements from two or more different wholesalers, the serial numbers being theirs rather than his.
I have just received this movement from David Penny - David's description & photographs can be found here:
I also attach some photographs of my own.
A couple of turns and it was away - but now waiting on a clean and service. My photographs show that it certainly in need of a clean.
I believe it is a 17 jewel Liverpool Windows / Liverpool Runner variant, made I assume by Joseph Johnson (the son) in the period 1848-1860. The cap jewel is missing. As can be seen, all of the text in in unitalicized capitals and has 'PATENT' engraved on the parallel sided cock together with relief engraving.One of the pillars has been drilled and screwed rather than being pegged. As Graham pointed out to me there are two additional holes in the barrel bar.
David reports it was in the collection of Vaudrey Mercer at one time - if someone can point me to any information on this collection and description of the watches, I would be extremely grateful. It is also figured in fig 108 of Bruton's Clocks and Watches 1400-1900. In the later - it is described as made before 1829, but David has put the date as c1840. I look forward to Oliver's opinion. The picture in the 1967 edition of Bruton shows both the missing cap jewel, the screwed pillar and the two additional holes in the barrel bar.
The balance is rather unique - described as 'fancy' by David and unusual by Graham & Oliver.
It also has a stop lever that moves a bar against the top of the escape pinion.
It's clean and service is a little way down the 'to do list' and so for the moment it is at 'rest and awaiting attention'. I will post more photographs in the future.
That screwed pillar may be a repair after the pillar top was broken off somehow. The screw is certainly later than the rest of the movement, and there's no valid reason to screw just one pillar when the other three are pinned. I've seen them split off by over-enthusiastic insertion of taper pins. It's not an elegant repair, but it works.
If John's No. 13162 is genuine (and I am inclined to think it is), it will be one of only two movements with serial numbers higher than 12000 which do not bear an address. (The other is No. 27113, which has an exceptional amount of decorative engraving; the lettering may have been skimped to allow more space for this.)
As for the date, my last unequivocal fixed point is a hallmark of 1829 for No. 10811. (I am not sure that I was justified in inserting a date of 1838, even with a query, for my own No. 15488; I think I ought to remove this date from future editions.) 'Somewhere in the 1830s' is as much as I can guess for John's movement.
John, nice snag from David Penny. Note, I think PL and others debunked the son theory for Josh
Johnson. More like a continuation of the Johnson name after his death on March 3, 1827. Of course,
I've slept since my last heavy watch dialogue.
Comments welcome. Keith
Here is another of mine from a different maker, also orinigaly thought to be the son of Josh Johnson. My first submit #14xxx, is from the Johnson firm at 25 Church St.
Oliver, my thanks for your comments and for your best efforts in dating the watch in the 1830's.
Following Keith's comments - by referring to Oliver's database this is my understanding of the 'principals' involved in the business.
When the founder Joseph died in 1827, his wife, Mary, was 45 (b.1782), his eldest son, John, was 19 (b.1808) and his youngest son, Joseph, was 6 (b.1821). With perhaps one exception, all watches in the database are signed Joseph (Josh) Johnson being the signature of the 'Johnson business'. So my interpretation is that post 1827 Mary & John may have been active until c1836, when John died. At that time Joseph would have been 15, presumably still learning his trade, and then playing a more a leading role from the early 1840's. Mary died in 1860 and Joseph in 1862.
That leaves Joseph & Mary's daughter, Elizabeth, and her son, Joseph Johnson Cashen (b.1844). I don't know when Elizabeth was born nor whether she was involved in the business, but her son, who did continue with the business, would have been 16 when Mary died and 18 when Joseph II died. I am not clear how long the business continued after 1860.
If my understanding is in error please put me right ...
John, I would agree in that all after 1827 were principals and subsequent signatures were
attributed to the original Joseph Johnson firm signatures. Keith
Great to have you back.
The following is information that may interest you.
UK Census 1851.
Joseph Johnson, 46 Watch finisher, 3 apprentices.
No. 6 Pennington Court, Trowbridge street.
Trowbridge street connects to Brownlow hill.
The 1851 UK Census was taken the 30th March 1851 and Joseph's ad stating he would sign his watches 87 Brownlow hill was published 30th Oct. 1851.
Gore's 1853 Liverpool Directory.
Johnson Joseph, watchmaker, 87A Brownlow hill.
Hope this will fil in a few gaps.
Another one for the data base maybe?
Thank you again, Peter (and please accept my apologies for misnaming you in the past). Johnson No. 44821 is already on record. It had no second-hand when I last heard of it. The raised head of the cock screw suggests a date in the 1850s; this feature is not usually found until near the end of that decade, although it is possible that the Johnsons were among the first to adopt it.
Here is a Joseph Johnson movement I just acquired (no dial - no case). It is number 2563. It has 17 jewels and a Massey III escapement. The large jewels are redder than I am used to seeing on these movements. The pillar plate has "14 2" stamped on it.
I wonder if this is genuine as the engraving on the cock strikes me as being rather shallow for the Liverpool work that I am used to.
View attachment 424305
View attachment 424306
Thank you, Jerry. I share your doubts. The cock decoration looks like a weak attempt to imitate, by means of lines alone, one of the three-dimensional designs found on genuine Johnson cocks (and also used by several other Liverpool makers). Like you, I do not quite believe in the smallish, reddish jewels in their broad-rimmed settings; nor do I like the dummy oil-sinks around the banking-pins. However, I shall put this in the database with a red star as usual.
Jerry, Oliver, Ray, Graham & Marty...............I miss being here, but thought I'd check in. Just received
9 inch needles at L 2,3,4 & 5, so perhaps I can sit back down and type again. I hope that most collectors
begin to recognize that the English Levers from 1825 to 1860 RULE, in the time keeping accuracy zone.
Now I appreciate my early 15J Howard's, but give me a 17J English lever I'm more pleased.
Ray, after thinking about our conversation tonight on your latest movement, my guess is 1785 on
those square plate pillars. Graham, note, Ray can always track me down. Oliver, keep'em straight
Good to see you, Keith
I assume the 9 inch needles were for your knitting practice? Are they for woolly underwear, or just a large scarf?
Marty, I'm too old to knit.................
Here PL, I'll do it for you.
Please type to your hearts content. I gnawed on the case after the E-gold test
just to have two verification's of content. The outer case is #6370 with case maker
SH and a HM of F. The inner case is #7771 with case maker SH and also a HM of
F. The movement number is #7771. I'm sure you think that's mere coincidence.
That tells me this Fake American case, is by the same American case faker and it
was one in the same watch in 1824 the year of our Lord. Please write his ancestors
a letter and give them a piece of your mind.
In the mean time, I shall continue to search for a Joseph Johnson of 25 Church Street
with true English hallmarks. I doubt this can be done, as I expect about all of his
movements came to the American market as exports and were cased here.
So, I'll drag another one in for discussion soon and await your dissatisfaction of it, in
I purchased a rack lever (my first) from Cog's & Pieces in the UK. It is signed Josh Johnson
and the SN# is 2785. I let it sit for a day at the post office and picked it up this morning from
them. The hallmark is Chester and 1818 with case maker T. & J. Helsby. The movement
number is on the inner case. It's in silver pair cases about 18 size and 3/4 inch thick. The
outer case hallmark and case maker match the inner case. I'll send a photo to Graham.
I wound it up at 11:38 AM EST for a test run and it is quietly ticking away, timing beside
a watch that Graham Morse repaired and serviced for me. It's about a 10J lever that keeps
excellent time, hallmarked for 1869, (thanks Graham, love the watch). It seems to be timing
right with the L Davenport lever that Graham serviced. This rack lever is 6 movements away
from a like Josh Johnson owned by John Pavlik SN#2779. This one does not have the fish
tail cock but has the double wedge full length foot. I have spoken to Oliver and he feels it to
be an authentic Josh Johnson as I do. If the seller allows me to post their photos early
I will do that with their permission. I have sent a note to Pete asking such. Here is the watch
it's timing with today.
I hope to be able to post tonight, but if not, then tomorrow on the Josh Johnson rack lever
SN# 2785, (once it shuts down).
Well done Keith-there is little doubt the watch is all original-looking forward to the other photographs. Oliver will be pleased too, and he will no doubt right and let you know his thoughts on that very nice watch.
Thank You Allan. I appreciate your attention to detail and knowledge
needs more like you. Well, here we are and the first day of Spring is
leaving here in KY. It's snowing again and we have several inches on
the ground. We seek warm days ahead.
I would like to thank Cogs & Pieces (Pete) who have allowed me to
utilize their photographs of Josh Johnson #2785. I thanked Pete for
my back, (I bend over to shoot photos through a light tent). The good
news is, I made a new light tent just for English watches so it should
be easier in the future.
Here is my latest acquisition. To be honest I was tired of all those
beautiful gold American cases with no hallmarks. I stumbled across
Cogs & Pieces of the UK by googling English Hallmarked Rack Levers.
Images abound and I spent days sifting through the watches. Pete had
a Josh Johnson and I knew I was hooked.
The pair cases are both hallmarked with an assay of Chester and a
capital A for 1818. Both cases have the case makers T. & J. Helsby
in the lids. The inner case includes SN# 2785 in the case. The watch
is a 7J rack lever with a double wedge full length foot. I believe the
balance cock has a creature that could be a bird and it appears to be
the same as the one in my #7771 Josh Johnson. The watch is about
57MM including the outer pair case. It is about to wrap up it's run and
for the first 22 hours it was spot on to the watch Graham serviced. It
eased off by 2 minutes this afternoon as the watch runs down. I have
the watch in the display case beside the other Josh where it shall reside
for the most part. I'll run it several times a year. It's my only English watch
to require a no. 3 key. This is my first rack lever, but I'm already on the
hunt for another jeweled version. I exchanged info with Oliver regarding
the watch and he indicated that Josh Johnson did not start placing 25
Church St. on the plate until about SN# 5865. Please take a look at #2785
and let's all help Oliver update the data base for this English maker. As I
stated in a previous post SN# 2779 is also a 7J rack lever no slides but
with a fish tail cock. I find it interesting that Joseph Johnson was willing to
try different designs on his various watches, through his lifetime. I'll have to
provide a case back shot, but it has no dents or dings.
I went searching through this thread and found John Pavlik's post #135, where one
might compare the differences between #2779 and #2785. Those differences are the
balance cocks just 6 movements apart. I am finding that the mystery of #7771 is
nothing more than a matter of time, (examples found). I'm just hoping it's in our life
time. Until then I wish everyone the best and I do mean everyone. I have decided on
neutrality regarding #7771, awaiting another example with a similar balance cock
pre-1830. I cannot hang my hat on Moncas.
First class Keith, I think Oliver will be very pleased with this watch, all original too-I like the seconds hand, you would not think a small thing likr that could give so much style. Waiting now for Olivers reply.
I have copied your photographs, and put them in file. Quick tip, try Roskell for your next Rack lever. Best Allan.
I have no doubts at all about Keith's No. 2785, despite the fact that the cock foot extends to the perimeter instead of being cut back in what I call a fish-tail configuration. (This term is, I think, my own invention; there is probably a more correct name for this pattern, but I have not yet come across it.) Features which I think of a specifically Johnsonian include the cruciform click of the maintaining device, the positioning of the serial number on the barrel-bridge, and the use of digits with ascenders and descenders (i.e. varying in height) for this number. There is also the fact that the correlation of serial number and hallmark date matches several other examples which appear authentic.
My impression is that the forging of Johnsons did not become common until 1830 or later.
The earliest example of the fish-tail cock I have seen is on a Litherland movement of 1799; it would not surprise me to learn that Peter Litherland was the inventor of this style.
Would anyone think the "Fish Tail" cock had anything to do with the 30 tooth escape wheel feature seen on post 135 vs watch in post 596 ?