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Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Keith R..., May 5, 2015.
This whole story has been very interesting & exciting reading.
Tim, thank you for your kind words.
We just had an interesting experience in study of an early Josh Johnson example,
behind the scenes, which can be a most rewarding experience to learn about these
old English watches. This particular thread has been with us for a bit, but it is truly a
great way to document and discuss Josh Johnson examples, from Verge to Lever. I
hope you and other American/English collectors check in and participate.
The early example mentioned we believe is 1815 and will show up in our Johnson data
base with several notes by Oliver, to sum up the findings. Until our next guest or example,
I'll leave us with a Josh Johnson rack from 1818.
One of these days I'll buy a nice camera like John Mathews has. I just have not figured
out which to buy, suited for watch photos.
I knew that JJ Junior pic was rattling around in my lap top, circa 1842, 17J
Liverpool runner, Josh Johnson.
Restored by CWCo NH.
Just a short update, I have now had Johnson #13162 serviced and the missing endstone replaced. I added some hands from my limited supply of spares, not perfect by any means, but sufficient to test the movement. It ran strongly to the end of the chain.
John, good job to get her going. I've only seen that balance wheel on
one other Johnson (David Penney example I think).
Keith - are you possibly thinking of the original post here?
It must not have been D. Penney site John, the movement I remember was 19J with a cock window.
It had the same balance wheel like yours though. I have a library full of Johnson's below sn# 10,000,
as I was desperately trying to date one of my watches (#7771 in an American case). My rack #2785
cured a JJ date problem, after that purchase.
Hi Keith - it is quite unusual, if you come across it again, please drop me a line, Both would probably have been made by the same balance maker and it would be interesting to compare the watches.
Will do John. I will look, I may have seen it on one of the pending auctions such as HA, (Heritage).
People interested in the watch below would have seen it on Ebay about a month ago. I made the chap in Australia a bid and he excepted it. Din´d even have to pay duty on it. I sent the information to Oliver, and quite rightly he has his doubts about this watch movement, so it will have a red dot. So I though those who like Johnson watches would like to have a look at it.I for myself I think this movement started life in Clerkenwell.how it got Liverpool arrows and windows I will leave to you. The escapement is a Massey III. No 2068. Remarks are welcome. Best Allan.
,Nice looking 17J movement. I note sn# vs plain gold bal. wheel, plain cock with no design,
number of setting screws at end stone 3 vs 2, also a unique abbreviation for No#.
It is curious that, having included the address in the lettering with apparent consistency from No. 5865 onwards, the Johnson firm seems to have omitted it in several later examples of which (so far) No. 10811 is the first and this item of John's is the last. I cannot account for this; I can only express my feeling that, when these movements show no other signs of being spurious, there is not enough reason to reject them.
I think I am correct in saying that these watches would probably have been produced in the period around Joseph's death in 1827. I wonder whether this might be significant, e.g. perhaps a different engraver might have been involved as a result of the changes in control, might Joseph's death lead to an increase in demand, requiring additional engraver's to be used. Speculation I know, but why not.
I have just been reading an article written by Vaudrey Mercer in HJ December 1963 where this movement is illustrated (clearly the case had been harvested before this date). I attach a snip of the article. I was intrigued by the very definite statement that the movement was 'Made before 1829'.
Oliver to confirm - I believe this is consistent with the database of serial numbers.
I dont want to answer for another member-it as to be said Mr. Mercer would not have had the information compiled by members today. There is no way this watch could have been made before 1829.Take another look at Olivers list.Allan.
Well I normally avoid this number (note post #), John's watch made the papers long
ago. Now as I told John, I had seen that balance wheel on another movement, which
I think was 19J (same unique balance wheel).
In the absence of hallmarks, we collect and compile data. I gave up long ago on the
argument regarding the #7771 narrow sided cock, pre-1827, but that does not mean
I don't believe Johnson made it before his death.
The trouble with American cased Liverpool movements is the dating, due to the
absence of hallmarks. What we are left with, is compiled and organized serial number
and descriptive data. Someday a collector will come along with a hallmarked Josh
Johnson example we can all agree with. I do not think Oliver's data base is in conflict,
I'm just not sure where we put the stake in the ground. Our early Racks in the data base
have valid English hallmarks. At some point about 1822 retailers or Josh, avoided cost
by shipping raw movements to the US and were cased by some good con artist, (the
gold is real, but the hallmark data is BS).
Table Rollers are another issue.
I will take slight exception to that. It is very rare to see an American case maker's mark that could be confused for an English mark. The case makers rightly thought that the marks were an important decoration and an indication of quality.
They were certainly capable of making very authentic forged marks if they chose to do so. It is unlikely that they would have been prosecuted.
I agree with the above-but in this case (excuse the pun) hallmarks matter little, its the number on the watch-according to Oliver´s list it could not have been made before c1855.I think though this is one for Oliver.
Tom, I agree ...............my wording does not reflect the early case makers intent. Here is
an example of an American case on an early MI Tobias, whereby John M. and Graham
debunked as Faux marks.
TH and JH well known case makers. The trouble is, there's no date letter and the initials
lack the characteristic period between T & H and J & H (Helsby's Liverpool case makers).
Edit, Allan we were typing at the same time, (not that I agree with your premise).
I think I have heard remarks here that indicate the Chester marks were only moderately more reliable than the ones the Americans put on their cases. For certain watches I prefer the American marks because they contribute to the understanding of what may have been going on. This area is a bit like the watches that look so very Liverpudlian that seem to have arrived in the ex colonies during the 1812 embargo. I think we all understand that none of these people had much respect for the collectors who might appear 150 years later to ponder their output.
This is one I like but need a better picture. It has another nice feature.
I believe it's necessary to distinguish between the marks themselves and the maintenance of the registers in which they were recorded. In Chester's case the registers can be problematical, which isn't helped by the fact that some are missing, but the marks themselves are largely struck correctly, and in common with all other UK hallmarks, give a more complete record than most other regimes of the metal purity, who made the item and when it was assayed. It seems that the Chester marks were the ones most often forged, probably because that was the office normally used by the Liverpool makers, a large proportion of whose watches, (some cased but many uncased), were exported to the US.
Hi Keith- Not to long ago we sorted out the narrow cock on Liverpool watches, (Liverpool Runners) and I would say we proved many were made before the death of Jos Johnson. (The original J.J d.1827.) The watch in that newspaper clip John put on this thread is the one I am talking about, if you look at Oliver´s list you will see why. ( your 7771 is fine). I am now going to look at my watch cases made by the Helsby Brothers. Allan.
Regarding missing marks from the Chester registers, it is important to say that the record of date letters through the various cycles are known and reliably documented, although identification in the hand is often prone to human error! The record of the historical registers for both London and Birmingham have been maintained and because many case makers/sponsors registered similar/identical marks at more than office, it is often possible, using Priestley's volumes, internet sites and the heritage hub on the Birmingham assay office site, to identify 'missing' makers/sponsors using the Chester date letter and reference to these sources. I should add that I have also used information from Sheffield and Glasgow records on the internet in a similar manner - this has now been made easier by Priestley's final volume.
My copy of Philips last book is still in the post-looking forward to it- in the meen time I took out my watch made for Ferrier of Hull in a case made by TH&Co. date letter H for Chester 1826/27. After takeing the photographs a long forgottn mark showed up.
I think it is an Irish Harp-but I am not sure. I even thought it could be a mistake its so small, but it is on the outer and the inner case. I thought, John you would like a look.
I wanted to photograph a 18K by Litherland and Davies though I forgot its in the bank-will get it out soon and see how the Helsby mark looks in there. I will now look for others by the brothers. Best Allan
Hi Keith-I came across the photograph of the Litherland & Davies watch-so no need to go to the bank. They are a bit rubbed but its the "F" for Chester 1824.
Thanks Allan for the hallmark comparison. It might indeed support an argument for #7771
whose case has the F on there. The problem with the American case maker (SH) is this
same mark has shown up on other period watches.
I'd say the biggest issue for me would be the balance cock on #7771 is more like post # 664,
while other movements within the same SN# range have what Oliver calls the "fish tail" cock.
I appreciate the case solution, we will probably need photo support for a like Johnson on the
balance cock. Josh might have tried just one narrow cock in this period, so we would have to
see the earliest narrow sided cock post 1824, or more like #7771 near 1824.
Note on mine, the crown is also an issue. I remind us also that #7771 is a Liverpool runner,
whose early date would be 1825.
Thanks again Allan.
I would date your watch Keith at 1826/27- See below-Oliver has seen these photographs by PM.
The last remark here is in my oppinion not viable? I believe a jobber put that there much later thinking he would get more money selling A Roskell, than a Johnson.
Remember Robert Roskell did not make watches-he sold them-I dont think it would have crossed his mind to alter another makers work.The photographs are from AHS Journal Vol. 17.No.3. Allan.
That is interesting. I think we have established that Raw Johnson movements were
exported out of Liverpool and cased in the US. Did Roskell and Johnson use the
same frame maker during this period?
What did Oliver think?
I thought you would have found the numbers of interest? and the dates? Oliver will tell all when he his ready.
Allan, I highlighted my post #678 (it was already there, edit/bold/black,italics).
Thanks and I'll add to the notes on #7771.
I do find it interesting Allan, but I'm trying to do less typing and more study when
I'm in front of Google. I have a Massey V from 1821, a 9J lever.
The 1820's seem to hold the best opportunity for a Massey I, II or V, London included.
Liverpool is a favorite though.
Nice one Keith-I have a Weatherite STR. Can be seen on ETRE´s Allan.
Will do Allan and thanks!
I raise this point as I believe the early Josh Johnson levers may provide
an opportunity for a Massey I. I also intend to view Roskell's a bit more
closely in the future. edit, Rob Roskell levers North of #27xxx.
Old Josh here turned out to be a Massey II. Assuming Allan's late date
for 7771 at 1827 and John Matthews Massey I of late, the 1820's have
shown to be the decade, for the more uncommon Massey escapements.
I have sent Oliver a note in regards to the gold American case maker S.H.
or H.S. depending how you read it and always showing an F for Chester 1824.
I will follow up with a reference number for review.
I think the Roskell 7J Lever dates to 1824 according to Allan's Roskell SN#
file. I don't see the case maker often, so anytime I can catch him out there, I
want to get it to Oliver.
edit.......done, sent to Oliver & Graham.
Hi Keith - could you please confirm the present view of the hallmarks, maker's mark and origin of the pair cases for your Johnson #7771 ...
I tried to determine the consensus by reading through the thread, but I failed.
From the photographs I have seen, I conclude that the cases are American with 'hallmarks' that are purporting to be Chester in origin. I assume that from what appears to be a period between the initials of the marker's mark, 'S.H' is more likely, and this is possibly the mark of the American case maker. Is this the consensus view?
YES. On the money John!!!
So now the supplementary question for the folk across the pond - do we know who the case maker might be and where he was operating from?
The-"online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers Markes" the is an American section.
Thanks John and Allan. I heard back from Oliver and agrees, the F for this
case makers mark is centered around the 1824 date as his intention. The
leopard with Crown is the flagrant mistake on his part, for 1824.
Boston and "Hardy", seems a good place to start. My watch papers are for Philly,
but that's just where the previous owner had his watch work done.
We still must recognize the Liverpool Runner was first established in 1825
and #7771 is a 17J runner.
I shall have to remember Stephen Hardy!
Keith has pointed out that, on the evidence of Allan's Roskell database (thank you once more for this, Allan!), the serial number of his American-cased Roskell implies the same date (1824) as the date-letter. This suggests that, initially at least, the letter F on the S.H./H.S. cases is actually a valid clue to the date, just as it would be if it were genuinely English. After all, anyone with even a sketchy knowledge of the English system would know that the letter changed each year; why would a case-maker wish to devalue his work by using a letter which was obsolete and therefore implied that the case was not new? (I say 'initially at least' because, so far as we know as yet, Hardy – if it was he – seems never to have changed his date-letter; there are many Fs on record but no Gs, Hs and so on as one might have expected; and this may mean that the Fs actually cover several years starting in 1824. Perhaps, finding that he was running a healthily profitable trade, he became slapdash later on.)
It's pretty neat to own a serviced working Rack lever from 1818, not to mention
my earliest with a seconds bit. Josh Johnson #2785, is in a hallmarked case from
1818. John Matthews has one also of the same hallmark year in this thread. You
can find them both in Oliver Mundy's most recent version of the Joseph Johnson
I thought about taking advantage of the light on the porch and photograph it on the
table, but with a puppy vivacious hound dog, it's to much risk for this old watch. I
show the second pic with low indirect light, as my adjustable light source uses regular
Hi Keith-quick question-where do you find Olivers latést version?
His latest version is still pending Allan, last I heard from Oliver.
PS........Old one on the net called Oliviastation.
Is that an address? I could not find a URL.
Showing David Penney's Massey sketches for I,II,III & V and titled oliviastationary.co.uk
Try that Tom. I first found it when I was looking for a "Josh Johnson Rack lever". So
if you Google Josh Johnson Rack Lever, down 2/3 of the page, you will see the Massey
sketches and oliviastationary.co.uk
That's how I came to buy #2785 from Cogs & Pieces.
Hi Keith- I have two of Olivers old data bases-after your remark above-I thought you had a copy of the up to date file-or have you got your PM´s mixed with your threads? I think a PM to Oliver-asking for some of that fine stationary will get a result.
Allan, there's a Josh Johnson on either side of #2785, so if it's in, or it's out,
is merely a data consequence of record. I leave that solely to the discretion
Nice old noisy Rack from 1818, keeping good time in all positions though.
Perhaps the next guy that owns it, can get it a NOS tight bow. I'll leave him
a note for CWCo. NH.
Thanks as always Allan.
Thanks Keith-Love your jargen-always enjoyed-
The inner case has two serial numbers 777 & 41, Not 7771 as does the movement.
John, here is Josh Johnson #7771 inner case lid. This gold American case was made
by some 1800's goldsmith, on his third shot of "New York Moon Shine".
We know this because his case numbers are scattered inside the inner lid, almost
in order, to make future watch collectors think, they are original to each other.
Welcome back PL, on post #700 no less.