M.I Tobias & Liverpool CO. 18k Gold Pocket Watch

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Anthony Rose, May 4, 2019.

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  1. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

    May 4, 2019
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    Hello this is a watch that was passed down to me. I don’t know much about it but it’s M.I. Tobias and I had more pictures of when I opened it up 2 weeks ago; pictures that I now can not find but will have by Tuesday. Could anyone tell me about this watch ? Anything... Possible year it was made; history of watch; price of the watch; etc... Before he passed he wasn’t able to tell me much about it so now I’m very curious. All input would be appreciated.. Thanks a lot. 0A9C2905-1877-4F37-BC73-32E9B1EB8C7D.jpeg 19FA17A9-95B5-480D-A384-91F2E026B696.jpeg 68E56656-C816-4895-B52C-9CA14E89BDF3.jpeg 38657248-2008-4794-89B1-34E2A155DB37.jpeg 09BEEF88-F305-4CC3-8B2F-528E670661AA.jpeg 194C1D96-E90E-42E2-A6F8-BFA0B2B5DC93.jpeg ?temp_hash=8ef2f5ccb5c0b9855c6c6c50cc4a7158.jpg ?temp_hash=8ef2f5ccb5c0b9855c6c6c50cc4a7158.jpg ?temp_hash=8ef2f5ccb5c0b9855c6c6c50cc4a7158.jpg ?temp_hash=8ef2f5ccb5c0b9855c6c6c50cc4a7158.jpg ?temp_hash=8ef2f5ccb5c0b9855c6c6c50cc4a7158.jpg ?temp_hash=8ef2f5ccb5c0b9855c6c6c50cc4a7158.jpg
     
  2. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Anthony welcome to the forum

    Watches signed by M I Tobias have been discussed many times and have often led to lively exchanges. Many are like your example, Liverpool movements in American cases, often with similarly engraved caps. It will be helpful if you post photographs of the movement to confirm its origin. I would recommend that you use the search facility at the top of the page and read some of the previous discussion.

    There are a series of articles in the NAWCC Bulletin of 1992 by Michael Edlin providing the historical background of the Tobias families and here are a few snips that will provide you with a starting point to further research ...

    upload_2019-5-5_11-1-52.png

    upload_2019-5-5_11-12-43.png

    upload_2019-5-5_11-5-49.png

    John
     
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  3. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    Thanks John! I will look at that!
    And when I get back home I will definitely make sure to take pictures of the inside of the watch for u guys!
     
  4. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    Welcome to the message board, Anthony :)

    The case certainly looks American. I think the Eagle mark is right for 18 karat solid gold, and that could be confirmed by identification of the casemaker "W.E". If no-one with the requisite knowledge posts here, we could try a post in the American Pocket Watches forum.

    The dial looks very Swiss, which is a little worrying, but the balance cock with the diamond endstone does look English, and encourages me to believe that this may be a genuine Tobias.

    The movement photos will tell :)
     
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  5. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Martin,

    That wouldn't necessarily preclude the rest of the movement being English in origin and indeed by Tobias as signed.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  6. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    Of course not :) That's why I said "worrying" rather than "suspicious", and in the remainder of the sentence I did say that despite the dial I thought that this may be a genuineTobias.

    The dial looks very much like the dials I have seen on many M J Tobias fakes, but we do know that English makers did indeed often place Swiss dials on their watches because the Swiss were prolific in making fancy gold dials.
     
  7. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    His looks to be a full plate and I have MI Tobias levers from 1827 to the 1860's. I look forward
    to the movement photo.

    Here is one I'd say close to 1840, SN# 19688. On the cock at the top is "Patent" and
    the bottom is "Detached".

    Keith R...

    jj558 (800x787) - Copy.jpg jj559 (779x800).jpg jj560 (800x786).jpg
     
  8. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    I will be home tonight or tomorrow and I’ll have pictures BUT I definitely know that it does not say detached inside, but I do know it looks like the one posted right above me^^^ but it says Liverpool in it rather than detached. We could decide what any of it was tell we opened and saw Liverpool inside BUT I should be posting the pics tomorrow or in a few hours !
     
  9. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Anthony, all MI Tobias English movements will have Liverpool on the plates.
    Later ones may only say lever on the bottom of the cock.

    Here's my 1827 at 17J.

    Keith R...

    mitobias (800x759).jpg
     
  10. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    I didn’t even know what I was talking about.. ‍♂️ My watch does say detached, but here are the other pictures fellas. If you guys could tell me about the watch after seeing these, it would be greatly appreciated!

    E23CBBCF-3F18-4234-94DD-8D7611EB4589.jpeg 100D18EC-35D6-4151-8195-FB10DA79F4CC.jpeg 05ED8AF4-D616-45B8-8D1E-EE73E9C517B8.jpeg 2B508AFA-CE14-4BB5-A07E-097A6B5CAC71.jpeg 148D876B-90D4-416D-A779-F84FFB2F1EA0.jpeg F33D544D-A1ED-409C-8CEA-D992FD4FF227.jpeg 08FEF93C-1589-4B4C-947E-AE3D18DF1F25.jpeg ?temp_hash=256483ec56d173efbf99dac75759855c.jpg ?temp_hash=256483ec56d173efbf99dac75759855c.jpg ?temp_hash=256483ec56d173efbf99dac75759855c.jpg ?temp_hash=256483ec56d173efbf99dac75759855c.jpg ?temp_hash=256483ec56d173efbf99dac75759855c.jpg ?temp_hash=256483ec56d173efbf99dac75759855c.jpg ?temp_hash=256483ec56d173efbf99dac75759855c.jpg
     
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  11. PapaLouies

    PapaLouies Registered User
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    Hi Anthony,
    No question, an authentic M.I. Tobias & Co. product. Likely Ca. 1837.
    Regards, PL
     
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  12. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Very nice 17J MI Tobias, I would land it in the 1830's and a conventional train!
    Movement is close to the MI Tobias from post #7.

    Congrats on this watch!

    Keith R...
     
  13. PapaLouies

    PapaLouies Registered User
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    Yes Ca.1837!
     
  14. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    So cool ! All the history that could be behind this watch; and it ends up in my hands. Thanks for letting me know fellas!
    Since it’s an Authentic M.I. Watch, I’m curious on the price range this would sell at; or the monetary value of this watch.
    If you guys could tell me. Also, I see that you mention “17J” what does that mean ?
    And the dial that points close to the M.I. Tobias tells you the year it was made huh? Pretty darn cool!!
     
  15. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Anthony,

    I'm afraid we can't discuss values in this forum but there is another one where you can ask for opinions, which you'll find at the bottom of the Forums main page in the box called 'What do you think it's worth?'. Just follow the instructions and links, there's no longer any charge for this.

    The reference to '17j' is about the number of jewels in the movement. Many of the bearings are jewels with holes and the rest are either end caps or the parts of the escapement. I think you may be referring to the serial number next to the regulator scale, which in this watch doesn't refer to the date; very occasionally this number can be interpreted as a date, but that's rare in English watches.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  16. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Anthony,

    Further about the jewels in your watch. These rather large jewels are typical of Liverpool work of the period, and because of their size are known as 'Liverpool Windows'. Their purpose is to reduce the friction on the pivots as they turn, and they're made of a hard mineral, usually quartz in these, although the smaller examples in many watches are ruby or sapphire. There's no particular technical reason why they should be so large, they just look great against the gilt plates and blued steel of the screws.

    A great many of the watches produced by Tobias and others in the Liverpool area at this time were exported to the US as uncased movements and cased on their arrival, in order to reduce the customs duties imposed on complete watches by the US authorities.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  17. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    Very interesting! When it comes to rarity, was it more common for M.I. Tobias watch’s to have the white faces like Keith’s watch or to have the gold engraved faces like the one I own?
    I personally like the white face of Keith’s more, it’s a more classic/professional look but when it comes to Tobias’s quanity of different style of watch’s he crafted; what was more common for him to create and which style was more unique?
    Thanks guys, I appreciate all info. All of this is very interesting to me and I feel as if I need to expand my watch collection now! Haha
     
  18. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    Sorry about that fellas, I didn’t know that was the rules here. I read all the limitations tho and know what to post and what not to post. It won’t happen again. Thanks

    This info is all great and highly appreciated!
     
  19. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    #19 Keith R..., May 10, 2019
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
    Anthony, the gold dials were a way for the wealthy to flaunt their watch.
    Very few US residents could afford a Tobias, even with the preferred white
    dials.

    The jeweler would price the options to the customer.

    Here's my 1827 MI Tobias 17J.

    Edit for PL.................I agree, Anthony's watch CA 1837, which by the way,
    might dial this one to about 1830 (SN# 14150).

    Keith R...

    103_0124 (800x600).jpg 103_0136 (800x600).jpg
     
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  20. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Anthony - the movement is a very nice example of Liverpool work of the period.

    A couple of observations/questions.

    The balance appears to be of the same type has shown on Keith's #19688 (see post #7 above first photograph). If it is, it is an example of a bi-metallic balance wheel that was sometimes found on Liverpool movements between ~1825-1840. They are not particularly common. It is not a compensated balance, but rather a design for 'show only', similar to some of the other features others have described. Your example is on the lowest Tobias serial number that I have seen with this type of balance- PL might know of an example on a lower serial number. Can you please confirm that it has such a balance?

    I was trying to decide on the letters/name stamped on the inside of the cap '?OT??' - I would be grateful if you were able to provide identify the actual stamp and if possibly provide a clearer photograph. I don't believe I have seen this mark before, which is probably that of the cap maker.

    I think the assumption is that the movement is most probably a single roller, but it just may be a Massey variant.

    John
     
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  21. PapaLouies

    PapaLouies Registered User
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    Hi John,
    A few I know of that have that style of balance wheel. 9323, 11141, 11866, 13100 & 16346.
    Regards, PL
     
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  22. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Pl - my thanks, as you illustrate the style was present on earlier serial numbers. I found the post for #11866 which takes its appearance on Tobias watches back to 1822. The earliest date I previously had was 1824 on Liverpool Massey I movement with the signature of a Preston retailer.

    John
     
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  23. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    #23 Keith R..., May 11, 2019
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
    All the Tobias watches shown so far including yours, are conventional trains.

    Here is a 17J MI Tobias Liverpool runner, circa 1861.

    The runner has the lever closer to the fusee, then the barrel. Many will have the
    barrel ratchet & click mounted on top, rather then underneath the plate.

    Keith R...

    mit2 (800x729).jpg 100_3841 (1280x960).jpg View attachment 532341 View attachment 532342 MIT6 (800x662).jpg
     
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  24. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Keith - does the cap of #42722 have a maker's mark?

    John
     
  25. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    On April the 4th. 1818 a Mr. Gifford was walking down Broadway and entered the repair shop of Osborne & White. He asked if they could clean his watch. The watch was signed on the top plate M.J.Tobias & Co.Liverpool and the number on the watch 1224. It was Cleaned & Repaired for $1.50.
    Two years earlier a Mr. Jacob Morris had done the same on November the second 1816, though his watch was signed Morris Tobias London, number 3026.

    Regards,

    Allan.
     
  26. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    John Matthews, the cap is unmarked on the MI Tobias from 1861.

    Allan, I know Ray has an early MI Tobias rack, 1xxx circa 1813. Your story implies the MJ Tobias
    fakes would have started early for MI Tobias (1818). It would be surprising that MI Tobias had acquired
    the honor of being faked that early. But I learn something new every day!

    Here's Uncle Morris Tobias.

    Keith R...

    morris3 (1000x1000).jpg morris2 (774x800) (774x800).jpg
     
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  27. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi Keith, many of the early watches by Tobias & Co. Liverpool were signed M.J. Tobias, I think you know that. Why else would the Swiss have put M.J.Tobias on their fakes? To quote Brian Loomes " M.J.Tobias (& Co.) Lord Street, Liverpool (Lancs) 1814-c1880"
    Best wishes,
    Allan.
     
  28. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    I’m not sure how to tell what kind of movement the watch has. As I said before I am brand new to knowing anything about classic pocket watches. I can take more pictures and you guess could see from that ? Just tell me where to take the picture!
     
  29. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Hi Anthony,

    It is quite difficult to take photographs of a movement in order to decide whether the it is a single roller or a Massey variant, The answer is best determined when you have the watch serviced, as you should do if you intend to use it. You will need to seek out someone who has experience with pocket watches of this era and others on the forum will be able to advise you, depending on your location.

    I am fairly confident that the balance is of the type shown in the first photograph of Keith's post #7. Here are a couple of other photographs of a similar balance to help you make a visual comparison with your watch - the two photographs are of the same watch and illustrate how the lighting can influence the appearance ...

    upload_2019-5-13_7-47-29.png upload_2019-5-13_7-48-4.png

    For the cap maker's mark, I was hoping you might confirm the letters that are difficult to determine from the photograph you posted. If you can take a further photograph with the mark in sharp photograph that would be very helpful.

    John
     
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  30. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    My MI Tobias rack lever, #2,700, was made around 1815. It is discussed in Case Maker "NL".
     
  31. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Thank you for posting your watch Ethan, now we can see that the early watches by M, J, Tobias were signed so. It´s all so one of the best examples I have seen by a Liverpool maker, though Roskell was on the same level, very few of his gold watches have survived. I see back in 2011 there was some confusion on the Roskell numbers, I think now we can take it that his numbers can be relied on.
     
  32. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    #32 Keith R..., May 13, 2019
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
    Thanks Allan..............

    Nice Rack Ethan!!

    ***Edit for Anthony. The detached levers signed MJ Tobias are known as
    Swiss fakes. Allan eludes to the early English use of the letters J & I. I call
    the English Liverpool levers by the real Tobias firm, MI Tobias. The exception
    to that is SI Tobias. I only bought the one shown below because I got it for
    about 1/2 the gold value.

    Keith R...

    103_0179 (800x600) (800x600).jpg
     
  33. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    I think there is a small misunderstanding here Keith. I was pointing out that M.J.Tobias and M.I.Tobias are one and the same firm,(has you put it "the real firm") from 1814 to c1888. They, as far has I know did not make Swiis fakes-the Swiss did that. You mentioed S.I.Tobias, they were at one time 1811-13 in Liverpool, they then later opened an outlet in New York in 1829 and I belive it was run by Henry and Charles Tobias till c1850. They were agents for M.I.Tobias & Co.
    Best Allan
     
  34. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    My watch says M.I. though and not M.J. And I had the man at the watch ship tell me it was in fact real gold. Idk if you are saying my could be fake? If so I’d love to really find out. And asking my mother about the OT marking. I guess my great grandfathers jeweler or watch maker intials/ sign was that of OT. That’s all she could tell me of the design because they have other pieces with that same sign on it as well.
     
  35. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    The Cap is printed 18103 that’s odd that OT is on my family’s other jewelry tho. My mother tried! But on that picture of the cap it’s just a print of the serial # actually.. I didn’t look as I don’t like opening the watch. I’m trying to keep it as prestigious as possible!
     
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  36. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Keith,

    The relationship between I and J in their use as initials is that there was no J in the Latin alphabet, and as a consequence the letter I was often used as an initial for names beginning with J, such as John, James, etc. This is seen in hallmarks and also signatures. I don't think I've ever seen the converse on an English watch, of a J being used instead of an I. The style of italic script often used in signatures can lead to confusion though.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  37. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Thanks Graham. I also found a post by Martin regarding same and in practice through the early 1800's.

    Anthony, your 1837 MI Tobias is by the genuine MI Tobias & Co. firm of Liverpool. Also, John Matthews is
    confirming your balance wheel is the same as the balance in post #7.

    You truly have a great watch.

    Keith R...
     
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  38. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    Oh alright! Does anyone have an example of a massee variant balance so I could check and see if it is that of or if it’s just like yours Keith...
    I have a few other questions about my watch tho... on the cap, is says “for D. Blair New Orleanes” ... is that just engraving from the local watchmaker in the states ? Giving it’s owner of the watch it’s name ? I’m curious of all these... and on mine the Patent is lower on the cock part than others I have seen. Is this just a style Tobias went with while making this watch ? Thanks guys

    4FC11101-4F0E-421A-B813-86037FDD31FF.jpeg 7179F393-F41B-4CAF-AC61-0F5976148878.jpeg 36D225B3-94D1-494E-81BC-C0B587876D41.jpeg 32C305AC-CDE3-4A3D-970D-BDA86EC4F855.jpeg 097C3EBF-067A-4280-98B4-FE3B1F7245D9.jpeg
     
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  39. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Anthony,

    The cap could well have been engraved here by the makers, but you may be able to see under magnification whether it was engraved before being gilt. If it was, it's likely that it was done here. The name could be the first owner but it's more likely to be for the US retailer who ordered the movement from Tobias.

    If you search on this MB for 'Massey' you should find some illustrations of the various types of rollers which he used, altough because of their position deep inside the movement, (mounted on the balance staff), they're quite difficult to see clearly.

    The precise style of the engraving was largely down to the individual engraver who did the work. The number of craftspeople who contributed to the making of a watch like this was large; estimates vary between 50 and 100, and the person whose signature is on the top plate usually had little practical input to its making. In this example, Mr. Tobias would have run a workshop employing several trusted craftsmen and may not have had much 'hands-on' involvement, but would be likely to have at least inspected and checked the output of his workshop.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  40. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Anthony, I don´t know how far you want to go with the history of your watch, though it is nice to know you are interested. I think your jeweler is David Paxton Blair, who was born in 1815 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. His family was among the first settlers of Columbia Mississippi, and your Dust cap was signed for him. and has Graham says it could have been signed in Liverpool or New York. Best Wishes, Allan
     
  41. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    #41 John Matthews, May 14, 2019
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
    Allan - can you please check your source for the birth year and the fact that he was a jeweller resident in New Orleans C1830-1840,

    It seems unlikely that there were two of that name born in Rockbridge County ....

    upload_2019-5-14_16-15-53.png

    upload_2019-5-14_16-16-43.png

    upload_2019-5-14_16-17-20.png

    upload_2019-5-14_16-18-9.png
    There are a number of members (@Clint Geller) of the forum who will take a very keen interest in this watch:

    if
    the jeweller and the Sgt David Paxton Blair are one and the same person and
    if Blair was active as a jeweller/retailer/tradesman in New Orleans ~1837
    so that there is the possibility that D Blair on the cap could be David Paxton Blair and thereby a Civil War connection can tentatively be made with the watch.

    John
     
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  42. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Moderator
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    Lovely watch. One other thing you might find useful is that the little thingy at 7 o'clock is a hack lever. I expect that it swings back and forth. The other end is a bit of wore that blocks a wheel to stop the watch. It does the same as hacking on a modern wrist wawch it stops the watch so it can be set to the second.

    If the watch won't run when wound it may be because of that feature. I got a nice buy from an auction house that should have known. iI was sold as not working but with the hack swing out it runs fine.
     
  43. PapaLouies

    PapaLouies Registered User
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    Hi Anthony,
    In 1838, Myer Isaac Tobias came to America on a sales trip. He seems to have spent about a month of his stay (February, 1838) in New Orleans.
    He returned to New York City and died March 13th, 1838. He may have brought your watch to America at this time.
    Regards, PL
     
  44. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    Wow this is amazing! So much history with this watch! I can’t even believe it. I’m kind of in awe!
     
  45. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    So this possibly is one of the last watch’s Mr. Tobias ever personally sold/gave to someone? And this someone happened to be a Sargent in the Civil War?
    Wow this is amazing!
     
  46. Anthony Rose

    Anthony Rose Registered User

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    A local jeweler also told me that my watch is most likely a Massey Type 3 balance! I went and just got it checked out just now!
     
  47. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Anthony,

    The roller on the balance staff in your watch should look like this, (from an earlier thread started in 2017 by John Matthews). The balance wheel itself isn't what Massey was concerned with, it was the roller on the balance staff and the way it engaged with the lever which he patented in 1812 and 1814.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  48. 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!
     
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  49. 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.
     
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  50. PapaLouies

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    #50 PapaLouies, May 16, 2019
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    Hi John,
    I think it's quite a leap from For. D. BLAIN. NEW ORLEANS.
    to David Paxton Blair of Mississippi.
    It was common practice for Tobias to scratch or stamp the watch serial number inside the Dust Caps.
    I have not seen a Cap makers initials inside a Tobias Cap.
    The following a Ca. 1827 Tobias Dust Cap.
    IMG_1803.JPG IMG_1804.JPG
    Longworth's 1827 New York City Directory.
    Griffin & Hoyt watchmakers 383 Pearl.

    Regards, PL
     
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