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
     
    Keith R..., viclip and musicguy like this.
  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

    Jeff Hess Moderator
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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

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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  10. Jeff Hess

    Jeff Hess Moderator
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    thanks. missed some of your info. interesting watch. VERY much so.
     

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