JW Benson 1/2 Hunter 1928 Jewelled to the Centre

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by svenedin, Jul 18, 2020.

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  1. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    I thought I would share an acquisition since I last used this forum (3 years ago). Tempus fugit!

    This is a Sterling silver, 1/2 hunter in a 2 ounce Dennison case by JW Benson. Swiss, gilt, lever movement which is unusual in that it is jewelled to the centre with screwed in jewels, 17 jewels and has micrometer regulator adjustment. I have a few Benson pocket watches (including solid gold-cased) and this is the highest grade Swiss movement in a Benson watch I have seen so far. The date is 1928 with Birmingham hallmarks for 1928 and the sponsors mark ALD (Dennison). Unusually for my watches, everything works (even the case spring)!!! This will be a well used watch.

    E39C8ECA-5B3D-43AB-B289-3F9948D9EB8C_1_201_a.jpeg 94D91B49-2A06-4F50-8A5D-22BC683FFA61_1_201_a.jpeg F1E3F8A7-60B8-4089-BC6E-ADA75C4CEC44_1_201_a.jpeg 15A9A4FF-CDCF-43BB-A21F-C24F57C7EE96_1_201_a.jpeg IMG_5736.jpeg IMG_5738.jpeg
     
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  2. zacandy

    zacandy Registered User
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    Lovely watch

    Stupid question what does sponsor mean in this context?

    Ald dennison were case makers I understand. They made gold cases for a lot of early twentieth century wristwatchs in the UK.
     
  3. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    #3 svenedin, Jul 18, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2020
    In this case (no pun intended) the sponsor and the case maker are one and the same. As I understand it, the sponsor had to be registered with the particular assay office but it is not necessarily the person who actually "made" the piece. A sponsor might sub-contract case making to another company but if he presents the piece for assay it is that sponsors mark that appears on the case. So the correct term is sponsors mark and not "maker's mark" when referring to British hallmarks. There are four parts to a British hallmark: the assay office mark (e.g London, Birmingham etc); the purity mark; the date letter and the sponsor's mark. In this watch we have the anchor for Birmingham, the lion passant for Sterling silver, the letter "D" for 1928 and the sponsors mark "ALD" for Dennison. Of course that is just for hallmarks, there can be other actual maker's marks too.
     
  4. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    #4 svenedin, Jul 18, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2020
    PS If anyone knows who made the movement and which movement it is I would love to know. I know that JW Benson used Tavannes-Cyma movements and I have 2 other Bensons with the 15 jewel Tavannes-Cyma 939. I do not know which movement the watch in this thread has.

    This is a Tavannes-Cyma 939

    IMG_5730.jpeg
     
  5. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Not so for the majority of watches described on these forums. The term sponsor was not introduced until 1999 (Bradbury p.14). Given the excellent references we have from Grimwade, Ridgway, Culme, Priestley etc. and by reference to trade directories, it is generally straightforward to determine whether marks that we see on cases are those of case makers, sponsors, finishers or retailers. As I have said before ...

    For me it is not the terminology of the C20th for the maker's mark that is important, what is important to me is how we describe the profession of those who's marks we find on cases. None of the watches in my collection date from 1999 onwards - so I shall gleefully :) refer to the marks on my watches as 'maker's marks' as they were so designated when the marks were struck but I will endeavour to correctly identify the profession of the owner of the mark.

    John
     
  6. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    In that case I will just call it a mark
     
  7. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    #7 svenedin, Jul 18, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2020
    Regarding marks on British watchcases I read this informative article by David Boettcher (who incidentally e-mailed me today as he is making me one of his "bow saver" leather pocket watch Alberts).

    Sponsor's marks in watch cases
     
  8. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi svenedin,

    David makes the very valid point that no single person made a complete watch case, at least until those very last exponents of the traditional casemaking trade in the UK, Dick Oliver and Martin Matthews, and those very few craftspeople now reviving the old methods, usually in the context of more modern tooling. It was always accomplished by a collaborative effort of several specialists, as indeed was the movement.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  9. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    Yes absolutely. I was thinking about this as I walked back this morning from our first church bellringing since lockdown in March. Our church clock and bells were made by Gillett and Johnston. My great-grandfather was a clockmaker for that firm and may well have laid hands on our church clock. His name is not on the clock of course but why would it be? I don't even know what he did exactly but say he made wheels. He was one of a distributed, collaborative manufacturing process that almost certainly outsourced some components. I suppose you could compare the modern car industry to this to some extent.
     
  10. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    The movement is, I believe, a Revue 31. See Dr Ranfft's illustration 'here'

    With regard to the 'maker' v 'sponsor' debate. I'm not quite sure that I understand the nuances here but I will say this: you will see many JW Benson gold cased watches in cases stamped 'JWB' - but JW Benson were not case makers and not the makers of these cases, which were, for the most part at least, made by Benson Bros (no relation) in Liverpool. Early Aaron Dennison made cases were initially struck with the 'makers mark 'AB' for Alfred Bedford who was neither a watchmaker nor a casemaker but the UK agent for Waltham watches. :???:
     
  11. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    #11 svenedin, Jul 20, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2020
    Thank you very much!

    Yes it certainly does look like a Revue 31 with the options of a Breguet overcoil hairspring and a disc cam regulator. Compared to Dr Ranfft's illustration It has an extra jewel to the centre wheel bringing it to 17 and the jewels are screw in with a gilt movement. I'm assuming that Benson would have ordered these specifications? Certainly gilt movements had been the norm for English watches and perhaps that's what Benson's customers expected. I note that on the Revue 30 page there is a picture of a movement with screw in jewels, disc cam regulator and a jewelled centre wheel.
     
  12. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    WATCH CASE MAKERS. Anderson Hugh, Maiden s green, Plura b est Adamson Thomas, 11, Marybore Ellison and Fishwick, 5, Tarleton st Ellison Timothy, 11, Great Homer st Helsby y John, 13, Bevington hill Helsby Thomas and Sons, 28, Vauxhall road Jones Edward, 6, Highfield d st L e e Nathaniel, 2, Ray st Maddock Edward, 22, Ormon d st Pennington n Thomas, 3, Collingwood d st Widdowsonn John, 17, Edmund d st Williams Hugh,8, Comus st.

    We have had this come up more than once on the word sponsor Stephen, the above are the watchmakers of Liverpool in Gores directory for1827. Not many when you consider the number of watches made there at that time. So whenever I quote the initials on watches I say JB, for instance, John Brooks case maker. I have just put such on the "ODD LOT" thread. If we today use the word sponsor, we are slowly forgetting the craftsmen all those years ago. Sponsor is a word I don´t like and don´t use.
    I used to, but we live and learn. Sponsor is a word of today, not the past.

    Allan.
     
  13. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    Certainly JWB would have ordered this spec, however, the spec would not be exclusive to them but would have been one of a range of options produced by Revue.
     
  14. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    So if you don't like or use the word 'sponsor', what would you call JW Benson and Alfred Bedford in the examples that I quoted above? BTW, this is DaveyG not Stephen.
     
  15. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    Allan it was certainly not my intention to cause contention and I seem to have clumsily blundered into it. Apologies.

    Stephen
     
  16. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Stephen, please don't worry about the thoughts given on this board, they are in the main just that, thoughts and ideas. If people want to use the word sponsor that's fine by me, I now know what it stands for, and I dislike it. In fact, when it comes to pocket watch case-makers, we know more about them than we do about who made the watch, but again when we say sponsor we are hiding the man who put it in his shop window. It will never happen, but it would be nice if we could trace all the people who had made something on a finished watch. The strange thing about that is, we could do it today by walking around a watch factory making notes, but we don´t do that either, we buy by name.

    Dave-Entrepreneur.

    Allan.
     
  17. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    Stephen[/QUOTE]
    Stephen, I entirely support Allan's view that you should not be concerned about the debates that are stimulated by and conducted on the Forum, rather congratulate yourself for being the architect of the discussion :). It is one of the beauties of this platform that debates and discussions do take place and differing points of view are aired, there is never any rancour and what comes from them is a good deal of learning and sometimes a different perspective on, often long held, opinions.

    Dave
     
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  18. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Moderator
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    While we can't fine everyone who worked on this watch, it may be possible to identify many of them if the Benson nooks are still extant. A lot of this material went to the Guild Hall Library and some went from there to the Maritime Museum at Greenwich. If the Benson records are available they will have a lot about who did what.
     
  19. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    Allan and Dave,

    Thank you. Lively debate is good!

    This watch has been in my pocket for the last few weeks. Rather unconventionally it has been in the pocket of my short trousers since I attached a jump ring and bolt ring to a silver Albert chain so that it can be attached to a belt loop. It's too hot in Summer for jackets or waistcoats.

    My pocket watches are having a renaissance since I bought a rather nice Edwardian pedestal desk. This purchase was due to the fact that I found myself working remotely a lot of the time. It is in such good condition that wearing a wristwatch threatens to scratch it hence pocket watches again. Life works in mysterious ways. Covid-19 has rekindled my pocket watch wearing and collecting. I am even considering finding a suitable victim to overhaul but I haven't taken a watch apart for 10 years or so. I was never terribly good, having neither the skill nor the tools for any kind of major repair but I can replace watch-glasses, strip down, clean and lubricate pocket watches. That is except the mainspring as I do not have a mainspring winder. I can do it by hand but I know this is often frowned upon.

    Stephen
     
  20. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    One of us must be living in a parallel universe :rolleyes:, I'm still wearing my winter pants and waterproofs.

    dave
     
  21. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    #21 svenedin, Jul 24, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
    For completeness I have a third type of Swiss movement as used in my small collection of JW Benson watches. Is it another Revue 31? This one with 15 jewels and no micrometer regulator adjustment unlike the 1/2 hunter at the top of the thread. Sorry for the dark photo but the gilt movement reflects a lot of light and it was either a dark photo or one that was too full of reflections.

    6100E42B-91A6-4742-B6F1-2A741E28628B_1_201_a.jpeg
     
  22. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    It certainly is.
     
  23. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Stephen,

    6100E42B-91A6-4742-B6F1-2A741E28628B_1_201_a.jpeg

    This is a quick edit in Picasa, a useful, easy and free photo package by Google, who withdrew support some years ago, but is still downloadable from some sites, (this is just one). It's more user-friendly than most of the Photoshop clones, like Gimp, and has more functionality than the simple Paint-type editors.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  24. svenedin

    svenedin Registered User

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    Thanks. I only mentioned it because actually photography is another one of my interests but only film. None of this digital stuff. Proper darkroom and chemicals. A camera on the phone is now indispensable though
     

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