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Kemp on Chronometers, and maybe more!

Allan C. Purcell

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I still wonder how Robert Kemp could have listed so many chronometer makers, and what was his interest. It appears did not own any, but I am not totally sure. From what I have seen so far, he started in horology with clocks, like many of us, and those clocks are listed in the index, and his purchases start about the late sixties and stop around the mid-seventies.

We have seen above that those listed are in fact all Prescor area, so I thought It could be, that he had contacts with the firm of Mercer chronometers. So I got out Tony Mercers "Chronometer Makers of the World" and I quote from his book on page 5.

Except for a very few chronometers, each one has the name of the maker or makers. the number and very often the address engraved on the dial. Most of the 18th and early 18th century models have the name. number and address inscribed on the top plate as well. Sometimes the number on the dial corresponds with the one stamped on the bottom on the inside of the bowl. Others have the number on the brasswork which includes the gimbal and brass fittings, but this very rare.

Having read this, I think its clear Robert Kemp could not have found all the names and numbers listed by himself. Someone else was feeding him the information over a long period.
Mercer goes on-

Other identification marks can be those of the frame makers, either in numbers or letters- G. H. Holmes, for example. (and we see that above under the letter H).

We have to remember here, that if a craftsman made fusee´s for chronometers, he would have been listed in directories and church records has a chronometer maker, and just the same if he made frames or even the boxes they were fitted in.

I then started to look at some of the makers listed and chose as the first example Henry (Harry) Pybus.

Mercer.
Pybus, Henry (Harry) (M) b1875 d. 1952, 43 St. Helens Road, Prescot Lancs. 1875-1852. A fine chronometer movement maker in the gray. (unfinished). He also made wheels and frames for watches, repeaters and centre-seconds. A friend of Frank Mercer who says of him à very likeable and cheery man, shot and fat, with pink cheeks,´ He inherited the Prescot firm of movement makers, Joseph Preston & Son established in 1829. Made for most chronometer makers.


Taking this a little further, I then looked at Joseph Preston.
Mercer.
Preston, Joseph & Son (John) (M) B.1829 d1952. 19 Eccleston Street, Prescot, Lancs. 1854-1865; 43 St. Helens Road, Prescot. 1865-1952. 2 day, 8-day pocket movements. Renowned as watch and chronometer movement makers, marked JP. (see above) The last working proprietor was Harry Pybus friend of Dr Torrens to whom he left his horological effects., and Frank Mercer. He supplied Mercers at one time with many of their `grey movements. 8-day 2 day and pocket. He also made watch and chronometer frames and trains for many makers including Usher and Cole, Kullberg, Johannsen, Bliss, Probably one of the most versatile frame and movement makers of the C19 and C20. Some records in the Gm. John Preston of Atherton Street, Liverpool, Chronometer movement maker in 1872.

To be cont.....
 

John Matthews

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Allan I have been through the names in the document you posted.

The majority ~80% were listed in the Liverpool Museum database and/or can be found in contemporary trade directories. Some are designated as chronometer movement makers in these sources. The majority are listed as movement or frame makers. Some of the ones that are not to be found, were previously mentioned in Kemp's paper of September 1981 AH vol. 13:1.

John
 

PatH

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Preston, Joseph & Son (John) (M) B.1829 d1952
Always something new to learn. Thanks for keeping us on our toes, Allan!

Trying to fit this all together in my mind...are the dates above the combined birth/death dates of father and son or did someone live a really long life?
 

John Matthews

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Pat - Allan has presented it as in the book.

The dates refer to the company Joseph Preston & Sons established in 1829 and ended with the death of Henry Pybus in 1952 - so the 'birth & death' of the company.

John
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Pat, well spotted, I was quoting directly from Mercer´s book, I should have noticed those dates are those of the firm. If you have a copy of his book you will notice I did copy correctly. I owe you a Key.
 

PatH

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Thank you, John and Allan! Maybe I need to break down and get more watch/chronometer reference books...
 

Allan C. Purcell

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John, I think you are correct to point out the above, but I am dealing here with Dr Kemps files that have been stored since 1985. When he was recording on those index cards, probably from the 1960s, The then Liverpool Museum database base was not available. In fact, Mercer's book was not published till 1991, then there are other books printed by the "The Lancaster Parish Register Sociréty" from 1999. The one I used for the Prescot threads came out in 2006. When Kemp was searching 80% of his work would have been writing letters, the rest reading, and talking to fellow friends of the same interest. My point is he would have needed years to compile that index, all I did was work through them, and copy what he recorded, there really are very few people who would have done what he did and people like you, and I include myself are few and far between, outside the museums, who I might say collect their information from volunteers. I always remember saying to John Platt that I liked his book, and he said, "Allan the day it was published, it was out of date" I think all we do is tidy up what as already been said.

Allan
 
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