$ M.I. Tobias & Liverpool CO 18k 17j

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Anthony Rose, May 13, 2019.

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  1. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

    May 4, 2019
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    Im new To this website but I have posted in another forum to validate that my watch is actually a real M.I. Tobias Pocket watch. But I’m just curious how much this watch would go for present day? These are pictures of my watch!

    539DBFA8-BE41-47E2-BD38-FBC524FCE5E6.jpeg AD1CF6DE-B9CE-4D1E-B993-D26DFF61748C.jpeg 4560781E-FDB4-406E-B84B-4372C8C6182E.jpeg ED367077-C388-485A-99B0-DEBE36744ED0.jpeg 4238C289-A880-4E49-B958-D1468C33B813.jpeg E658BBBE-A359-49F3-844E-E04F8E2A34B4.jpeg 7556C94A-72F5-4777-B3FD-21E669722F0D.jpeg 7CBBA52D-0950-4C37-9EF8-6E48634C5457.jpeg 326D77CE-E390-44FC-89BA-E4A40EAB7924.jpeg 539DBFA8-BE41-47E2-BD38-FBC524FCE5E6.jpeg 158BDED8-AFDA-46B5-9E8A-6BB33190786E.jpeg
     
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  2. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    Assuming that it is in running order, I would estimated a retail price of $1,400 - $1,600.
     
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  3. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    There is some nice history tied to this watch I just found out.
    - this watch was made for D. Blair or New Orleans who was David Paxton Blair who was a Civil War Sargent.
    - Also it is noted that Mr. Tobias was in New Orleans in February 1838 where he probably gave/sold D. Blair this watch... Only a few weeks later Mr. Tobias passed away in New York on his trip to America.

    So this watch could quite possibly be one of the last watch’s he ever sold/gave to someone! And that someone ends up being a Civil War Sargent!
     
  4. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    Ah, provenance, unfortunately to make it more valuable you would have to be able to prove all of these assertions and being presented prior to the Civil War and he not being famous would not help the value. It would be really if you could prove it.
     
  5. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    Retail customers did not normally have their names engraved on watch movements in place of the actual maker. Private label resellers did that. If the watch dates to 23 years before the Civil War began, then the "D. Blair" in question was probably a watch importer, likely a local jeweler, and the Sergeant Blair who served in the Civil War may have been his son, or another family member. However, this particular watch was likely sold to someone other than a family member decades before the war. I do not assume that Elgin watches with movements marked "B. W. Raymond" ever belonged to Mr. Raymond, and one should not assume that a watch signed as having been made "for D. Blair" on the plates was intended for D. Blair's personal use.
     
  6. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    Yes I agree but I’ve never seen any watch say for D.Blair New Orleans.. I mean don’t you think that at least one would have popped up by now if there were many out there? Idk .. but you are right, now I’m on a mission to prove it lol
     
  7. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    Anthony, I'm thinking that if Mr. Blair had been the ultimate intended retail customer, the watch probably wouldn't have been engraved "for D. Blair." It would just have been engraved "D. Blair," and the whole first name, or a substantial abbreviation thereof, not just the first initial, likely would have been used. If an American retail customer for an English watch wanted to personalize it, it would have been far easier for him to do that by having his name or his monogram engraved on the case or inscribed on the dial, which could both have been arranged locally. Furthermore, a monogram or an inscription on a readily visible external surface would have made a lot more sense from the consumer's point of view, generally.
     
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  8. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    But In the military you would never call a 1st Sargent in Arms by his first name you know. So if the watch was ever found by another Military member, they would of acknowledged him as (Sargent) Blair. & D was ingraved Incase another Blair came around.
     
  9. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    I'm afraid I don't follow you, Anthony.
     
  10. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    As has been suggested, you would need some strong documentation to prove all of this. By the way, which "Mr Tobias" are you referencing here as being in New Orleans? There were three of them in the Tobias firm.

    If in fact all of the provenance is provable, I doubt that this would make any difference to the value of the watch.
     
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  11. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    M.I. Tobias passed away in New York March 1838. He traveled New Orleans in February 1838 for a month right before he died.
     
  12. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    #12 Clint Geller, May 18, 2019
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
    Based on the eagle marking and the lack of British hallmarks on the case, it appears to be of American origin, which was common for English movements sold in the US. In that nothing about this watch ties it to the year 1838, I fail to see why Tobias's alleged trip to the US in that year is relevant. To the contrary, the eagle marking suggests a date much closer to 1860, or beyond, when watches signed "M. I. Tobias" were still being made.

    As for Sergeant David Paxton Blair, according to the Fold3.com website, he was born in 1814 or 1815, and served with Company D, First Battalion, Mississippi State Troops from 1862-63, then reenlisted in the MS First State Troops in 1864. Furthermore, according to New Orleans Louisiana Biographies, David Blair's son, Joseph Paxton Blair, was born at Columbus, MS on December 5, 1859. Columbus, MS is 290 miles from New Orleans. Thus it appears as if the D. P. Blair family did not move to New Orleans until 1860 at the earliest, some time after which the adult Joseph Blair practiced as an attorney there. This begs the question as to whether "D. Blair" was actually Sgt. David Paxton Blair at all. D. Blair may only have been a relation, or perhaps even a complete stranger, as Blair is a reasonably common surname. It's certainly not Rumpelstiltskin. In any case, D. Blair appears to have been a reseller, and it is very unlikely that this watch was made for D. Blair's personal use, whoever he was.
     
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  13. John Matthews

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    I think it is somewhat unfortunate that this watch and its provenance is being discussed in two separate threads.

    In the initial post here, Allan proposed that the inscription on the cap to 'D Blair' could be a 'David Paxton Blair' and provided the address of his birth and approximate date of birth. I researched these facts and reported that there was a POSSIBILITY that it might be Sgt David Paxton Blair. In doing so I said it would need to be shown that the jeweller or individual identified on the cap ' D Blair' was the same person as the Sgt who joined the 1st Mississippi Infantry. Subsequently, both PL and myself, have indicated in the original thread, that this seems most unlikely. This is essentially supported by the references that Clint was quoted in this thread.

    With regard to' Blairs' in New Orleans, the earliest directory I have access to is 1851. This shows ..

    upload_2019-5-18_21-10-39.png

    from which which I believe it is reasonable to infer that there were probably more than one family of that name present in New Orleans at about the time the watch was imported into America. Whether these families were closely, or even remotely related, is a matter of conjecture, as is whether any of their ancestors were engaged in retailing watches. This would need to be researched. It may or not be significant that Sgt David Paxton's son, Joseph Paxton Blair, was drawn to New Orleans to establish his practice in 1883.

    upload_2019-5-18_21-29-32.png

    As always with provenance, more questions and uncertainty, than answers and certainty.

    Clint - can you please explain how the eagle allows you to make this inference. Notwithstanding there is the possibility that the case MAY be later than the movement, I would have thought the movement closer to 1840 than 1860.

    John
     
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  14. JTD

    JTD Registered User

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    I agree. Perhaps a moderator could amalgamate most of the two threads, since only post #2 is directly concerned with value.

    JTD
     
  15. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    #15 Clint Geller, May 18, 2019
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
    John, perhaps others have, but I have never seen an eagle-marked case that early. Even cases for early Boston Watch Company movements from the early mid-1850s don’t usually have eagle marks, as I recall.

    As for whether there was a D. Blair who retailed watches in New Orleans, that was a more than reasonable inference from the marking on the dust cover. Watches personalized for retail end customers are usually not marked as having been made “for” that person, and such personalizations usually appear on the case, or less frequently on the dial, not on the movement.

    Oh, and thank you for pointing out the other thread. I noted the 1859 birth of D. P. Blair’s son in MS only to point out that that fact makes it even less likely that he was the same “D. Blair” whose name appears on the watch.
     
  16. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Hi Clint,

    I did a quick search regarding the use of the eagle on gold items. A number of results confirmed your statement regarding its appearance about the time of the Civil War - especially on 8K cases. However, on this site a number of Tobias threads refer to 18K gold cased examples with the eagle; in discussion these have been given an earlier date, e.g. here. @Keith R... has posted a book here showing such marks and I have asked him for the reference. You may recognise it.

    My knowledge of American cases and the eagle mark is only 'second-hand' through the examples posted by others and what I have read on-line. I just wonder whether the eagle may have been used earlier on cases made for imported movements. Could its use have been influenced by the discovery of gold? I also noted in my search reference to its use on the 'Quarter Eagle' that was being minted predominantly after 1830 (I note in New Orleans from 1838 - probably not, but possibly relevant).

    I agree entirely with your inference regarding the significance of the engraving on the cap. I believe that the movements imported from England where probably nearly all capped for their protection and this type of engraving may well have been used to distinguish the retailer, and possibly, but more rarely, the individual, who had placed the order.

    John
     
  17. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    #17 Clint Geller, May 19, 2019
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
    John, your information about the eagle marks on gold cases for Tobias watches is very interesting. Perhaps the mark did appear earlier on gold cases for some foreign movements sold in the US. As for the appearance of eagles on American coinage, that dates to before 1800. A "quarter eagle" was a $2.50 coin. The New Orleans Mint was also making $20 "double eagle" coins up until 1861, and throughout the 1800's, silver dollars, half dollars, quarters, dimes and half dimes mostly had eagles on their reverses as well, so this use predates the discovery of gold in California in 1849, though a smaller gold rush occurred in Georgia in 1829. Whether the eagle mark used on these cases relates to American coinage is also questionable.
     
  18. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    As has been suggested, I have copied this thread (after removing all the posts referencing values) to the original thread about this watch in the European Watches Forum. Please continue the discussion in that thread if you wish.

    The copying process was quite complicated, so if anyone sees an error in that process, please PM me to let me know!
     

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