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M.I. Tobias Rack Lever: Age?

aucaj

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Hello,

I have seen a few examples of M.I. Tobias rack levers. I have attached photos of mine.

I know there are a lot of fake Tobias watches out there. I assume this rack lever is authentic?

As I understand it, Tobias was a retailer? Does anyone have a guess on which firm actually made this watch (ebauche)?

Please could someone help me to estimate the year of production for this movement?

Thank you,
Chris

1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg 6.jpg
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Chris,
You have a "Hot Potatoe there" It is known that their early watches were signed like yours, M. J. Tobias. Though no one really knows why they did that. There are letters from the local post office addressed to M J Tobias, Liverpool, I posted some time ago, but who the "J" was is not known, or the firm decided to use J rather than "I". To answer your question is it fake? the answer is no, it is a genuine Tobias watch. Your next question is also open, which firm made it? or sold it to them? My personal opinion is Roskell, based only on the rose engraved centrally to the cock. The serial number is not in the lists for the Litherland firms or the Roskell file. You probably know it as a 30 tooth escape wheel, and the second's hand goes around four times a minute, ie the 15 marked on the second's dial. Nice movement worth casing.

R/.

Allan.

PS: c1800.
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Hello Ethan, I have to omit I had forgotten that thread. Though I have to say "Macca" had it right. My quick answer to Chris could have been put better.

The point was, is it a genuine Tobias? and when was it made? I think I got that right. Thanks again for that thread, I will print it out.

R/.

Allan
 

aucaj

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Allan/Ethan,

Thank you for the information. It does resemble Allan's Roskell quite a bit!

Ethan, I appreciate the reference to the other thread. I was worried the "J" might indicate it is not authentic, but its interesting to learn that for some engraving styles of the time it is difficult to distinguish between the I's and J's.

Thank you,
Chris
 

gmorse

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Hi Chris,

I think the likelihood of finding a rack lever 'fake' is extremely small to vanishing. The vast majority of rack levers originated in Liverpool even if a few were finished and signed in London; they were a Liverpool speciality and played a big part in establishing the city's independent style and its flourishing export trade to the US.

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Chris, While we are talking about Rack levers, I thought you would like to see three others, only this time they are just movements. Three others that have 15 seconds dials, and all three were made by the Roskell firm.

1-53.JPG
On the left, the first two are Rack Levers with slides, the one on the right is a Massey two. All three have the 30 tooth escape wheel. I am still
not sure why they did that, and for such a long time. It could be the customers wanted it that way to show off. 8932 was in a gold case (C1809 /10) when I found it on the web, but when I bought it on eBay it was just a movement- That was in 2017.

1-54.JPG
The Massey II on the right is c1824/25. (The other I posted above is hallmarked C1818/19). The latest Rack I have recorded by Roskell is 48596
hallmarked C 1835/36.

R/.

Allan
 

Allan C. Purcell

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John Pavlik

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It's sad you keep saying that PL, it is quite obvious that they used M.J.Tobias on their early watches, see Ethan's post above. Or are you saying M.I.Tobias did not look at the engraving on watches made for them by others?

Allan.
I happen to agree with PL… while English lettering fonts are difficult at best, What does the J signify? I have not seen any documentation on M.I.Tobias using a J for a middle initial this early and on a full plate movement .. most are trying to interpret the fonts .. not the intent …

Best Regards,
John Pavlik
 
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John Matthews

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This is not simply a question of the interpretation of fonts. It is also a question of the interpretation of entries in trade directories.

1805 Gores

1630126463011.png

continuing as M J Tobias until 1811 Gores

1630126526386.png

and then from 1813 Gores and thereafter

1630126595873.png

I now have a copy of most of the trade directories of the time. It is clear that in those for this period there is no confusion between 'J' & 'I'. In the period 1805/11 there are no M I Tobias in the lists and from 1813 no M J Tobias listed.

The discussion from the beginning of this thread offers a number of possible explanations and includes further information from other contemporary printed sources. It is my belief that some early watches were signed M J Tobias and subsequently M I Tobias. I am, however, not able to confirm that these signature are those of two separate individuals - see the quoted thread.

John
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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I happen to agree with PL… while English lettering fonts are difficult at best, What does the J signify? I have not seen any documentation on M.I.Tobias using a J for a middle initial this early and on a full plate movement .. most are trying to interpret the fonts .. not the intent …
Hi John, It is as John Matthews says, it is not just the fonts. There are letters in existence from the Liverpool Post office addressed to M J Tobias when their shop was at 5 Pool Lane. What is not clear is the J on their early watches. I would say a change in their family, or it was anglicisation on their part. All their later watches are M I Tobias. I did post those letters, but where I don´t know anymore, this is a very ending story.

Best wishes,

Allan
 

Jerry Treiman

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And so the arguments continue ....
It seems to me that regardless of how the typographer set up the name in the directories and how similar a script J or I was at the time, the person in question was named Michael (or Myer) Isaacs Tobias. A "J" makes no sense.

Also ... take a look at Figure 15 in Michael Edidin's second article ( December 1992). He shows two half-plate examples of the Lord Street grade -- on with a Roman font, clearly M.I. Tobias, and one with the ambiguous script font.

(another post edit) In response to the suggestion that "J" might be an alternate initial for Yitzhak, remember that his middle name was Isaacs, taken from his family name before he was adopted into the Tobias family.
 
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John Matthews

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Personally I think this makes more sense ...

So is the "M. J." a coincidental typo by the printer? I don't believe so. I think the Michael (Miel) Isaac Tobias, or M.I. Tobias was the anglicised version used for his commercial interests. To friends and family he used the traditional Hebrew form of Myer Jitzhak Tobias, Isaac being an English version of Yitzhaq, Jitzhak or Ischakk.

John
 

S.Humphrey

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Ah! That is the one I have been reading.
My PDF copy seems to end abruptly at the graph of Tobias genealogy.

My big question has been, can anyone enlighten me as to what happened to Anne and Isaac Isaacs, the parents of Myer and Samuel that necessitated their adoption by their Uncle Morris?

And, If Morris trained Myer and Samuel in the trade and they were running(or supposed to be) the Liverpool branch of Morris Tobias & Co, what was the big falling out about around 1812 that caused them to part ways?
Was Myer pulling a little side hustle on his Uncle?
His denouncement of any watches signed any other way seems pretty firm, and he's very clear he's talking about the chap, "M.Fracies", calling himself "M.I. Tobias & Co. of 5 Pool Lane Liverpool.
 
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PapaLouies

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I found no M. Fracies Clock or Watchmaker listed in Liverpool.
There are however many Clock or Watchmakers with the last name " Francis " listed in the UK.
All points to M.I. Tobias & Co. the adopted son of Morris Tobias at 5 Pool Lane Liverpool.
Could it be that Morris called him " M. Fracies " to lead the trade to think M.I. Tobias & Co. did not exist?
Regards, P/L
 
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S.Humphrey

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I found no M. Fracies Clock or Watchmaker listed in Liverpool.
There are however many Clock or Watchmakers with the last name " Francis " listed in the UK.
All points to M.I. Tobias & Co. the adopted son of Morris Tobias at 5 Pool Lane Liverpool.
Could it be that Morris called him " M. Fracies " to lead the trade to think M.I. Tobias & Co. did not exist?
Regards, P/L
Hi P/L!

Me either. So many mysteries.
Who the heck is "M. Fracies"? Where did that come from?

I'm wondering if Myer and Samuel were supposed to be representing their Uncle Morris interests in Liverpool in this 1805-1812 period, but they were not, really.
Virtually as soon as they got there they set up to start their own thing, unbeknownst to Uncle.
He apparently listed the address of Morris Tobias & Co. of London and Liverpool at 5 Pool Lane, as known from one surviving watch paper(as mentioned in the bulletin article), and a number of watches signed "London & Liverpool".

It can't be a coincidence that this is the same address a bunch of these cursive "MI/MJ Tobias & Co" watches are coming from(or signed as, might be more appropriate).
It seems impossible that they could get this over for 5+ years without Uncle Morris finding out. But I suppose, that could explain why he was so pissed. It could also explain a little why things are so muddled, maybe.
I think I'm going to hit the library on the subject.
But, somebody out there must know the real story!
 

Allan C. Purcell

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00-19.jpg PL, this is the watch that started this thread, at no time have you said it is a fake M I Tobias watch, just that the "J" was in fact, an "I". Now you bring out that old letter from Michael Edidin. He says in paragraph 8 that only genuine M I Tobias are stamped with the letter "I" and any others are fake. He then finishes the letter with, I stated in my article, and I still maintain that none of the? M J Tobias? watches had anything to do with the firm. I think after writing that in 2002, he would write a different letter today. There is no doubt at all that this watch 1583 was not made (Sold) by M I Tobias.

Allan.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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So pleased you changed your mind PL, but please remember M I Tobias only sold it.

Regards,

Allan.
 

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