Mid C18th pair case verge with champleve dial and (potentially) interesting provenance

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by John Matthews, Jan 16, 2020.

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  1. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    The description of the watch is split across two posts.

    I purchased this mid C18th pair cased London verge with a champleve dial, from David Penney towards the end of last year. It is in excellent original condition and has been recently serviced.

    This is David's description …

    Good 18th century verge with champleve dial, in fine original condition, circa 1735/40.

    20200115 022.jpg 20200115 001.jpg 20200115 003.jpg


    Silver pair case, the inner case hallmark present but rubbed, the casemaker EG (probably Edward Gibbons, London), the outer with no marks, as is often seen with silver cases at this date.

    20200115 008.jpg 20200115 021.jpg

    Beautifully engraved fullplate fusee movement of the period with square baluster pillars, the cock not having suffered the common disfiguring alterations caused by later changes to the banking. Two-piece silver champleve dial, the centre with the first owner's name WILLIAM SHEEN, blued-steel beetle & poker hands. 49 mm diameter.

    20200115 004.jpg 20200115 005.jpg 20200115 013.jpg 20200115 014.jpg 20200115 017.jpg


    I can find no reference to William Batho in the horological records but Bailey records a W Bathall working in London before 1757. A customer (thank you Keith) has found just one amongst the public records of the period: Batho was listed as a barber and peruke-maker in the 1740's and, while acting as a character witness at an Old Bailey trial in 1759, was described as perriwig-maker to the Prince of Wales, a position of some influence it would suggest. The casemaker is also open to doubt as Grimwade records Edward Gibbons' stamp having a daisy above the incuse letters EG, which in this case it appears never to have had.

    NB: Along with the early serial number of the watch, an owners' name on the dial and the questions about Batho and Gibbons, this watch is altogether full of potential leads for further research that could lead to new information. What I can add is that the cases belong together, are undoubtedly original to the movement, and both case and movement are very good London / Geo Graham quality.

    In lovely original condition, the pendant still revolving and not later soldered, and altogether much better than the majority of surviving watches of this age, with correct high dome (non bullseye) glass.

    20200115 023.jpg 20200115 025.jpg 20200115 018.jpg

    I will not attempt to add to David's description of the movement. As to the makers of the movement and case, as well as the identity of the first owner, there is indeed potential for further research. I am not convinced that William Sheen, the name on the dial, was the first owner. Indeed, the name in the centre of many champleve dials are the names of the maker, rather than the first owner. To date, I have not found an example where the dial signature has been ascribed to the first owner.

    John
     
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  2. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Given David is convinced that the case is original, any hallmarks present can be used with some confidence to date the watch. Unfortunately, the outer case is not hallmarked and the marks on the box are badly rubbed. However, it is possible to identify the shape of both the cartouche surrounding the lion passant and the leopard's head. These correspond to those used in the period from 1740 to 1755 as shown in the standard references (Montague Howard extends the period back by one year to 1739). The case maker's mark, EG incuse, can be identified as that of Edward Gibbons, with rather more certainty than David infers. This mark is a missing registration according to Priestley, who records that it has been observed on a 1755 case. Earlier, Gibbons had registered the mark with a daisy above and in a cartouche, on 10/12/1736, shortly after he became a FCC in 1735.

    20200115 009.jpg 20200115 011.jpg

    Note: The Register for the period 1697-1739 is still in existence, but that from 1739-1759 is not; it is believed to have been lost in a fire at the House of Commons, where it was being used in the 1773 review of the English assay offices. This probably explains the missing registration of the Edward Gibbons mark.

    Both Heal and Montague Howard, identify a William Sheen as a plate worker and goldsmith who registered marks between 1755 and 1783 at various addresses in London and is recorded as Free on 4 March, 1761. I believe that the watch pre-dates the working period of this William Sheen but, given the common practice of the period, it would not be surprising if his father may also have been William, working in the trade and that he may have made the dial. More research is needed.

    20200115 003-2.jpg

    Like David, I have not been able to find a William Batho recorded in the horological literature of the period – as he comments there is the a W Bathall mentioned in connection with a lost watch in 1757 and much later, a Thomas Batho is recorded working in Plymouth in 1889.

    I think it is reasonable, therefore, to consider whether the signature 'Will Batho' might be that of the first owner. This despite the signature being followed by '3', that would normally be interpreted as a movement serial number associated directly with the preceding signature. In the Scrimshaw trial of 17 July, 1759, the Prince of Wales periwig maker, William Bathoe, is called as a witness. I infer that David was considering that he may have been the first owner, this despite the addition of the 'e to the surname in the court record.

    William Batho witness statement.JPG

    However, it transpires that there was another 'William Batho(e)' working in The Strand at this time. I found this reference in Social History during the Reign of the Stuarts (I appreciate that the Stuarts reign ended earlier in the C18th – but this is where I first found mention of Batho)

    'The first circulating library was by Allen Ramsay, in Edinburgh, 1725. In London by Batho, in the Strand in 1740.'

    Circulating Libraries - Social History of Reign of Stuarts.JPG


    Circulating libraries, rented books to patrons, for an annual or quarterly fee. Between the 1740's and the 1840's the proprietors of the largest circulating libraries consistently ranked amongst the most prolific publishers of their day, especially of novels. This was true of William Bathoe, bookseller, publisher, librarian and possibly author. Note - his surname is also more often spelt including the 'e'. Bathoe is sometimes credited, with establishing the circulating library idea, opening his library 'At the Blue Bible near Exeter Change in the Strand' in 1743. Although it is clear that he was not the first, he was certainly one of the early prominent exponents. He produced a catalogue of his library in 1757 which is widely available as a reprint …

    Library Catalogue by William Bathoe.JPG

    He was the printer bookseller of The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, son of the Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole, and there are records of correspondence between Bathoe and Horace Walpole.

    Correspondence with Horace Walpole.JPG

    Is it possible that this is the person to whom the signature Will Bartho refers? – all I need to find is a portrait of William Bathoe holding the watch :)

    The watch came with two papers. The printed Camerer Cuss & Co carries no annotation and must be from the C20th. Camerer Kuss & Co, 522 New Oxford St, established 1788, becoming Camerer Cuss in 1914 in response to the anti-German feeling at the outbreak of World War One. The second paper is of more interest despite the fact that it is just a plain piece of paper and cannot be ascribed to a 'watch maker'. Written in old ink, there appears to be a set of initials with the date 'June 13 1829' and then beneath in pencil :???:? cleaned March 1-67 1867. While it is impossible to be certain that the paper has always been associated with the watch, I believe it probably has, and the two dates represent times when the watch was serviced.

    20200115 026.jpg 20200115 027.jpg

    Much more research is needed, but a fine example, with potentially a most interesting provenance.

    John
     
  3. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    This is lovely, I particularly like the pierced out slide plate and cock foot, and the fact that the revolving pendant has survived without being soldered. The design of these dials, with the separate central reserve, does lend itself to easier personalisation, or indeed substitution.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  4. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    That is lovely, I have always hankered after a champleve dial watch, even though I am constantly drawn to clocks instead.
     
  5. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    I really do like that watch John, though I think it's a tough nut to crack. Good luck with the research, if I come up with anything I will let you know. Allan.
     
  6. Jeff Hess

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  7. Jeff Hess

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    Founds Batho listed as a"stuff-merchant' in 1835. Same guy? and William Sheen listed as a silvermsith in London int eh late 1700's. Just spitballing....
     
  8. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Jeff

    I recognise the photograph you posted from the Bonhams auction in 2015. Your Batho is 100 years later and Sheen is the silversmith that I mention in post 2 who was Free in 1761.

    John
     
  9. Allan C. Purcell

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  10. Jeff Hess

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    thanks. missed some of your info. interesting watch. VERY much so.
     
  11. Rich Newman

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    John, what a mystery you have taken on. Hope you're successful figuring out what this is.

    Just a few thoughts that may be helpful. I can't comment on whether the case is original but do have to say that any competent silversmith could have made a case for this movement during the 18th century and nobody would be able to tell today whether original or not with certainty (notwithstanding hallmarks). I question the case maker attribution to Edward Gibbons. As mentioned, his mark was registered on December 10, 1736 and like all English marks of the period are capital letters. In this case, "EG" and Grimwade describes a "daisy" above. I think it more closely resembles a sun-in-splendour mark. Regardless, your case has lower-case letters which is wrong for an English case maker's mark. The dial and movement certainly seem to date no later than 1735-1740 as was listed, maybe even earlier. Note the block lettering for "London". Lovely quality as you already know. Good luck!
     
  12. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    John, I have put this photograph on here because I think it might help. The Photograph is on a live sale at the moment, but I wrote to the seller (Chris) and he has allowed me to use it. The hallmarks themselves tell us 1760, though the seller as gone for 1758.

    We then come to the case-makers initials, and I read them as DA. (and the seller) they are also on the inner case (Box) but the date letter cannot be read. You know there are no DA marks in Priestley´s two books, but there is a DA mark in Jacksom, but for the year 1718.(William Darkeratt In block capitals- why William I don´t know. On the photograph the two letters (DA) are in script? That is a long jump to 1758/60. Almost inpossable, but never say never. I hope this will help. Allan

    v-46.jpg
     
  13. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Rich,

    I agree that these letters in English hallmarks are conventionally in upper-case; however I think that the letters in John's case are not necessarily in lower-case but rather that the font used, (an unusual script one it's true), could be one with the characteristics of either or both.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  14. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Rich,

    Lettering styles, as you know, can vary widely, even from the same signatory. The example below with two separate renditions of 'LONDON', is from a watch made around 1710, as suggested by the Egyptian pillars and other stylistic clues, (the obscuring of the original signature with a false barrel bar is another matter entirely!). The signature on the dial, the false bar and the underside of the barrel are all for Benjamin Sidey, (working 1701-61).

    DSCF3934.JPG DSCF3953.JPG

    In watches of this period, the absence of complete hallmarks is a constant source of frustration and confusion to us now.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  15. Rich Newman

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    Graham, your point is very important because I too am always suspect of watch or clock descriptions/discussions that uses terms like "never" or "always" or infers as much. I hope my comments were not interpreted as such. There seem to always be exceptions and new things to discover and I think that's one reason why collectors of early English watches find it so interesting.

    Block letters for "London" on the back plate are often an indication of an early movement so thought I would point that out. Styles for engraving varied throughout this period as you show. However, not for case punches that I know of. And here I must say how much the NAWCC misses Philip Priestley who was the expert on case makers and passed away 2 years ago.

    I've never seen lower case used for both initials during this period (I am aware of one or two examples where a lower case letter was used for one of the two initials). I've also never seen a different font from block letters used for a case maker's mark during this period. So either would be very rare indeed in my view. We know for certainty what Edward Gibbons mark looked like through 1736. This watch dates from that period. It is possible that he a) chose to change his mark (and registered it in the missing register 1739-58) and no examples have been seen until now, or b) perhaps he used this mark on other silver or gold wares and somehow it was used on this watch case, or c) something else. I am always learning and would love to see another example of any case maker not using block letters at this time (lower case gothic letters in this case). I hope more information comes to light on this watch. Its very good quality so there is a story out there to be learned.

    BTW, I think it would be fun to "show-and-tell" English watches with early case marks. I have a few including one from the late 1600's. If there is interest and plans to attend the Dayton National Convention in June, perhaps something can be arranged.
     
  16. John Matthews

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    #16 John Matthews, Jan 27, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2020
    My apology for taking time to respond to the above. I had a consignment of bare rooted beech hedging which I needed to plant while conditions were favourable.

    Rich - I am pleased that you like the watch and thank-you for your encouragement.

    Graham has addressed the issues of the signature style and font of the maker's initials. The latter is definitely not the mark in Grimwald to which you refer.

    I have done further research since my initial two posts. In the first paragraph of post #2 I said ...

    The mark to which you refer was registered in the year immediately after he became a Freeman. As I said the register covering 1697-1739 is existent, but that for the following period (1739-1759) is not: it is thought to have been lost in a fire at the Houses of Commons. Although the date letter of the hallmark is not present I am confident from the shape of the surviving punch marks that it was assayed between 1740-1755, but I can be no more accurate than that. As Philip Priestley reported in Appendix G Part 2 Addendum p.77 of his 2000 publication - NAWCC Supplement #3, discovery of material enabled identification of watch case makers, that had previously been in doubt. It is in that addendum where Priestley identifies EG incuse in Gothic script as the mark of Edward Gibbons. He is listed both in the '1st Goldsmiths' Small Workers Register' and as a case maker in 'Clockmakers' Company list of 1747'. However, the attribution has to be tentative, because the missing register, but clearly Priestley believed that the mark was that of Edward Gibbons. In his final publication of 2018 a case of ~1755 is listed as carrying the mark. All that can be said without denial, is that the mark of EG incuse in Gothic script, was being used ~1755 and that the registration of the mark is most likely to have been made at some time between 1739 and ~1755.

    If the case was made towards the end of the period I have defined on the basis of the shape of the punches (1740-1755), then this does open the possibility that the dial may have been made by the William Sheen who registered his first mark in 1755 and it also makes it slightly more likely that the William Batho who opened the circulating library in the Strand, is the signature that appears on the movement

    John

    Edit - posted in parallel with Rich, I will come back if I haven't addressed his points
     
  17. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Rich,

    As you so rightly point out, it's never wise to say 'never' . . .

    A good many Tompion watches have lower-case 'London' on the top plate; I wouldn't care to say what proportion as compared with all upper-case, but examples aren't hard to discover.

    This watch, (which by the way has never had a balance spring), dating from around 1690, has a lower-case signature. Unfortunately it has no case.

    DSCF1356.JPG

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  18. John Matthews

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    #18 John Matthews, Jan 27, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2020
    Allan - an interesting hallmark, but I'm not sure that it is relevant to the Batho

    I agree with the seller 1758 ...

    upload_2020-1-27_20-34-42.png

    Irrespective of the date, I read the makers mark as you D·A - but I am confused, by your comment, as it is listed in Priestley 2000 (p.77) & 2018 (p.182), but not in 1994. It is in the same category of marks as Edward Gibbons as I explained in my previous post. It is tentatively interpreted as the mark of Daniel Aveline and recorded on a case of 1758.

    John
     
  19. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi John, the answer is I don´t have Priestley 2000. Must get a copy. I put the above on here because the DA is in script. Allan.
     
  20. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    John-I slept on your remarks last night, and that word Tentatively stuck in my mind. You must know something from Priestley 2000 to have used Tentatively that I have not seen. It would imply that Priestley was not sure, and over the 18 years before he published his opus, he had decided that DA was not Daniel Aveline, and did not publish. Do you think that is correct? Allan
     
  21. John Matthews

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    Allan - he did publish ...

    As I explained in post #16 for Edward Gibbons - it can only be tentative because the Register for the appropriate period of the registration (1739-1759), is non-existent, reportedly lost in the fire at the House of Commons. Tentative is the word used by Priestley.

    John
     
  22. Allan C. Purcell

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    1921 by Philip Gordon Dunn, Derek Ainslie Jackson and John Emlyn Victor Mason.

    On the restoration of the old Standard in 1720, most of the London goldsmiths adopted new marks for plate of the restored standard; some, however, resumed the use of marks which had been in use prior to 1697, and thus it became difficult in many cases to identify the makers with their marks during the period 1720-39. To remedy this confusion, the Act of 1739 provided that all makers should destroy their existing marks of every kind, and adopt new marks composed of the initials of their Christian name and surname, of forms different from those previously in use. The marks represented on this and the following pages(of goldsmiths who were working prior to May 1739) were devised in compliance with the Act. Marks of Robt. Abercromby, Peter Crespin, and Fras. Spilsbury, indicated by * (entered in June 1739) are composed of the first two letters of their surnames and do not comply with the Act.

    Nothing there about a non-existent registration, and goes on from 1739-1759 with a full record of the marks (Four hundred and twelve registrations) While looking for the maker Willam Sheen, listed has a Goldsmith WS( dot in the middle) 1755, I also found he was in partnership William Sheen, Dobson, Prior and Williams in 1755. So it would appear sheen at least sold the watch. That then leaves Batho, could he have been a journeyman working for Sheen, and in that way got to have the watch signed London-just a thought. Plymouth (Devon) could be worth a look. Allan.
     
  23. rstl99

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    Hi John,
    Lovely watch and nice story to read about. Thanks for sharing.
    One of these years, I'll have to reward myself with one of the nice cased watches from that era, from Penney why not, after satisfying myself mainly with orphan movements for quite some time. Though, like Nick, I'd probably end up getting a nice clock instead, something bigger to look at and admire on my mantle :)
    Regards, and enjoy your new acquisition.
    --Robert
     
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  24. John Matthews

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    It was the small workers register that was lost. William Sheen registered his mark as a large worker in 1755 - the register for which is existent and hence these records have been reproduced in all the references. He made further registrations in 1775 & 1783. He was registered as a plate worker, not a watch maker. He is included in the parliamentary Report List of 1773 as a plate worker.

    John
     
  25. Allan C. Purcell

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    John, I don´t think anyone implied Sheen was a watchmaker, for all we know the watch could have been his own, but every little helps when searching in the dark. the only definite things about the watch are the very nice movement and dial.

    Allan.
     

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