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Litherland & Co. rack lever

Jerry Treiman

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I have this watch by Litherland & Co. on my bench tonight to inspect. It is No.1625 with a rack lever and cap and hole jewels on the escape wheel (10 jewels in all, I believe). There is an interesting potence beween the plates that both supports the bottom pivot of the rack lever arbor and the upper pivot of the 4th wheel.


It is in a silver pair case with a "D" hallmark from Chester that is either 1800 or 1821. I think the earlier date is more in line with the movement but welcome comments. The casemaker "NL" is so far not known with any certainty.
 

gmorse

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Hi Jerry,

...There is an interesting potence beween the plates that both supports the bottom pivot of the rack lever arbor and the upper pivot of the 4th wheel...
This potence with its adjustment is a necessary part of the slide mechanism. Without it, moving the slide in the top plate would put the lever arbor out of upright.

Regards,

Graham
 

pmwas

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Very handsome piece :)
Thanks for sharing!
Actually the more I see the more I like them... They are intriguing machines, the timepieces of the old times. I only just got my very forst verge I'm soon going to show here :)

View attachment 298639

Just it's lovely face for now :)
 
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Jerry Treiman

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I believe the hour hand on the watch I posted is complete, but the minute hand is obviously missing it's tip. Does anyone know what this hand would have looked like originally?
 

gmorse

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Hi Jerry,

I think they're both missing their tips, and the seconds hand is probably a replacement. Please see your PM inbox.

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi Jerry,

There's a picture of a Litherland rack lever with hands almost identical to yours on page 78 of "The Country Life Book of Watches" by T. P. Camerer Cuss, (pub. Hamlyn).

Regards,

Graham
 

Keith R...

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Jerry, I'm not sure if this helps, but a verge of mine from 1803. See the hour and minute hand,
(although I think the hands might have suffered the suffered a similar fate). Very nice
watch Jerry, thanks for sharing. Keith.

I think this one's minute hand would have been a match and the hour hand is different.
Wm Barr, Dublin ca 1803.

View attachment 298680
 

Jerry Treiman

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Hi Jerry,

There's a picture of a Litherland rack lever with hands almost identical to yours on page 78 of "The Country Life Book of Watches" by T. P. Camerer Cuss, (pub. Hamlyn).

Regards,

Graham
Yes, indeed! That watch (No.2229) has the same hands. Other comparisons can be made:


No.1625 - Arabic numerals on dial, 60-second sub-dial, 15 tooth escape wheel, pierced balance cock table, balance cock foot contoured to edge of plate, jeweling at escape wheel arbor, dust cap (missing), 1800 hallmark


No.2229 - Roman numerals on dial, 15-second sub-dial, presumed 30-tooth escape wheel), solid balance cock table, scalloped balance cock foot, no additional jeweling evident, no dust cap, 1802 hallmark


Any thoughts about the relative merits or desireability of the 15-second dial versus 60-second dial (and associated train differences)? Camerer Cuss* suggested that the 30-tooth escapement was more desired by collectors. Is this still true? The added jeweling and piercing on No.1625 suggest to me that it may have been a slight up-grade.


[*A better image of No.2229, with discussion, can be found in "The Camerer Cuss Book of Antique Watches" (Antique Collectors' Club, 1976). If the moderators think it acceptable I can scan and post a picture from the book].
 

gmorse

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Hi Jerry,

The style "Litherland & Co." was in use up to 1803, after which it became "Litherland Whiteside" until 1813, and then "Litherland Davies & Co.".

The 30 tooth escape wheels appear to be rarer, and presumably more desirable, and so are steel wheels as opposed to brass.

Regards,

Graham
 

Jerry Treiman

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Since not everyone may have access to the book I cite in post #9, I am attaching images clipped from Plate 97 in the 1976 edition of "The Camerer Cuss Book of Antique Watches". This is to illustrate the comparison I made to the watch shown in post #1.

I am hoping this is considered "fair use". If not, the moderator may remove this post.
View attachment 298976
 

Keith R...

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Now I admit, I only own about 7 or so Verges, a small pile of English levers, but Jerry's
balance cock is about as good as it gets for artistry, IMHO.

Keith
 

Jerry Treiman

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Thanks, Keith. I have always favored the ornamental work of the Liverpool makers. The carving seems deeper and the gilding is always superb.
 

Lychnobius

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A most treasurable watch, produced by the inventor* of the escapement which it exemplifies. The minute track placed inside the main chapter-ring and passing right through the seconds dial is an unusual touch. Not all Litherland's watches include the seconds function, I believe.

I wonder if Litherland also invented the idea of a separate bridge over the spring-barrel? His early rack-levers are the oldest examples of this that I know.

*Or at least re-inventor, since it is always said that the Abbé Hautefeuille, the veteran French horologist who had been working on balance-springs in the 1670s, conceived the idea in (I think) 1722. Does anyone know if his design was ever actually built?

Oliver Mundy.
 
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gmorse

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Hi Oliver,

...*Or at least re-inventor, since it is always said that the Abbé Hautefeuille, the veteran French horologist who had been working on balance-springs in the 1670s, conceived the idea in (I think) 1722. Does anyone know if his design was ever actually built?...
I've been unable to find any reference to the Abbé Hautefeuille actually making or commissioning a watch with this escapement. He appears to have been a prolific writer and theorist on horology. For the moment, Peter Litherland seems to hold the laurels in the practical application of this escapement.

Regards,

Graham
 
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John Pavlik

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Litherland may of had a penchant for different dials.. The seconds dial is for 15 seconds... Attached photo I may have posted before? The rack lever is also a bit different in that it has a going barrel mainspring... No fusee and chain, some what early for the English trade at the time ...
 

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gmorse

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Hi John,

It seems that Peter Litherland was quite an innovative chap; there is great variety in his output, exemplified by the dial and going barrel in this piece, and he didn't stop with watches. Other activities included patenting a system for keeping pianos in tune with weights or springs. The wooden framed forte pianos of the time were notoriously prone to going out of tune.

Regards,

Graham
 

Jerry Treiman

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Ahhh .... this is a little better now.
 

Keith R...

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Very nice Jerry. I have a somewhat similar set of hands on an 1803 verge by Wm Barr,
maker and case hallmark confirm dates.

Keith
 

John Pavlik

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Jerry, outstanding work on the hand set... They appear to not be " restored" which to me, is how it should be on any restoration project... Any thoughts on the seconds hand? I have attached what I feel may be a period correct example.
 

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Jerry Treiman

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Is that my next project, then? It does not look easy to make, but can replacements be found?
 

gmorse

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Hi Jerry,

I've never seen one on the usual sites, but then I haven't been looking for one! My approach is always to make hands to fit if they're needed, rather than fiddle about altering others. These fine steel ones with the gold centre just demand more patience and care with fitting the boss, (I suppose it should really be called a collet), pipe and hand together.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Pavlik

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Jerry, they are quite difficult to find and then you would probably need to rob it from a movement.. If you give me the measurement from the seconds arbor to the seconds track I will look at my seconds hands and see if I might have one..
 

Jerry Treiman

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I am not so much intimidated by the pipe, which I can deal with on my lathe, as by the steel hand. My dial measures 9 mm from the arbor to the dots in the seconds track. John, if you have something usable I would be very grateful for saving me from having to make one.
 

Jerry Treiman

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Thank you, John, very much for your effort and very generous offer. However, I think this will be too short for my dial.

As you can see in my other thread, my curiosity got the better of me and I had to see if I could make one from scratch --
https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php...nglish-fusee&p=1040051&viewfull=1#post1040038

... well, not quite from scratch. I am trying to source some bushing wire so that I do not have to drill out a pipe the hard way.
 

Jerry Treiman

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Litherland may of had a penchant for different dials.. The seconds dial is for 15 seconds... Attached photo I may have posted before? The rack lever is also a bit different in that it has a going barrel mainspring... No fusee and chain, some what early for the English trade at the time ...
Returning to John's interesting example, would the use of a going barrel be merely a cost-saving measure or did it really express confidence in the greater accuracy of the the escapement over, perhaps, the verge? Alternatively, the chosen dial and train layout may not have left room for a fusee. I think variants like this are really fascinating!

[John - can you re-post your pictures? All I can get are the thumbnails.]
 

PapaLouies

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Jerry, outstanding work on the hand set... They appear to not be " restored" which to me, is how it should be on any restoration project... Any thoughts on the seconds hand? I have attached what I feel may be a period correct example.
Hi John,

Another fantastic looking watch, with a second hand the design of which I consider the most beautiful made.
By any chance is this watch made by Roskell?

Regards,

PL
 

John Pavlik

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Jerry, Hope these photos are better... Your questions are interesting... I can not answer for sure, but I've heard Litherland tried to make less expensive watches..eliminating the fusee would go a long way to accomplishing that.. The layout is different, and quite frankly have not seen another example with the side by side tracks... the lessor seen up and down regulator track dials are as close as I have seen.. This watch also has a 3 wheel train..
 

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John Pavlik

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PL, no not a Roskell.. Movement marked for a A.B. Savoy London... Silver cased hallmarked 1832 London, by H & G Bartlett 3 Kings Sq, Clerkenwell.. Simple table roller escapement.. And an unusual banking block is located between the lever staff and the lever notch.. not on the tail end.. No banking pins.. I've seen that on one other watch I had..
 

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Jerry Treiman

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Thanks, John. That is a lovely and interesting watch. Is it No.620? That would be pretty early.
 

gmorse

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Hi John,

In an article in the AH from March 2010, David Evans writes:

"Having studied Litherland's production for
the last thirty five years or so, I can confirm that
no two watches by the firm are ever the same.
All sorts of variations were tried, for example a
couple of rack levers with steel escape wheels, an
extra-large size rack lever with reversed dial (the
hour hand longer, with the hour chapters outside
the minute ring), some with maintaining power,
some without, some with three-wheel trains, some
with four, some jewelled, some not etc. I know
of no other maker, with the possible exception
of Breguet, who produced such a diversity of
designs."


Regards,

Graham
 

John Pavlik

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Re: Litherland & Co. rack lever

Jerry, Yes that is the number.. I would say early 1790's as the pair case is not hallmarked.. It is gold filled or pinch beck, and original.. No letter date..
Also have a bit later one numbered 1548, 4 wheel train and 30 tooth escape wheel.. this ones case is a mystery.. appears American, consular case, coin silver
with the familiar Eagle mark.. Case does have the movement number 1548 on the covers.. Could be original, done by an English trained maker.. Hinged at the 3 and fixed rear dome..

- - - Updated - - -

Thank you Graham for the 3 articles.. I'm reading them now..
 

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Jerry Treiman

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Re: Litherland & Co. rack lever

... Also have a bit later one numbered 1548, 4 wheel train and 30 tooth escape wheel.. this ones case is a mystery.. appears American, consular case, coin silver with the familiar Eagle mark.. Case does have the movement number 1548 on the covers.. Could be original, done by an English trained maker.. Hinged at the 3 and fixed rear dome.. ...
Did you mean a three-wheel train? Doesn't that usually go hand-in-hand with a 30-tooth escape wheel?
Speaking of hands (nice seque, eh?) do you think the hour hand might be a replacement? It does not look as fine as the minute hand and lacks the little cross-bar.
 

gmorse

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Re: Litherland & Co. rack lever

Hi Jerry,

... do you think the hour hand might be a replacement? It does not look as fine as the minute hand and lacks the little cross-bar.
I think you're right, that hour hand doesn't match the minute hand at all, the spade head is different from the heart-shaped one on the minute hand.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Pavlik

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Re: Litherland & Co. rack lever

Jerry, speaking of hands, mine have rather "fat" fingers, hence the 4 vs 3 for a 3 wheel train... :) yes the hand set is a miss match, that is way it came to me... Been looking for a heart minute hand, but not found 1 in the 15 years or so I have had the Litherland.. A side note, have been looking for a minute hand for a Morris Tobias about that long too, with out luck.. The tip is broke off... My hand making skill is unlike yours... Hmmm, maybe I should try filing the spade to a heart? And putting a crease down the center...
 

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