Moncas of Liverpool

Bryan Eyring

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jboger

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I did an Internet search on Moncas the other day. He retailed table clocks as well. As for his pocket watches, he must have had a prolific business going as many, many watches have survived. Moncas strikes me as a not common name like Smith or Parker.
 

Mike Paice

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Thanks for sharing your pictures of this watch. Does it have the Massey type II detached lever? I'm aware of nearby Moncas watch movements 7826, 7851 and 7890, which all have the Massey type II , hence my bold assumption.

I'm awaiting delivery of another Moncas watch I recently won at auction - I haven't seen it in the flesh but the one picture of it makes it look tired but possibly restorable (it could be a complete hunk of junk but I won it for peanuts, so well worth the risk).
 

Mike Paice

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Here is another that sold recently;

Thanks for sharing this, Bryan. I don't always get to see the eBay sales in the USA and missed this one. I have Moncas movement #7104 in my collection, which is a very similar beast (although mine doesn't have the screw weighted bimetallic balance wheel or its sprung dust cap).
 
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John Matthews

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Mike Paice - have you dismantled your #7104?

Many of the examples with serial numbers similar are Massey II, so on very little evidence (skating on thin ice!) is there any chance it was made in Switzerland? There are a couple of features of #7103 that might indicate Swiss.

gmorse & eri231 - do you see anything?

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,
...do you see anything?
There are several unusual features of 7103; I believe I can see a pallet frame with English jewel pallets, which would preclude a detent escapement but I can't make out what else is under there, so I'm not sure whether it actually is a spring detent, since the normal foot and attachment don't seem to be present. Although the escape wheel is thicker than the usual ratchet type, the tooth profiles aren't clear. The purpose of the steel piece screwed under the top plate next to the 'lever' isn't clear and looks roughly finished. The stud looks like a later replacement, and the visible jewel settings appear to be blued steel rather than the more usual brass.

I can't say if it's partly or wholly Swiss, (no view of the pillar plate for one thing), but it certainly appears to have been modified.

Regards,

Graham
 
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John Matthews

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Yes, Graham it does appear to have been modified. I thought the plate engraved Chronometer looks like an added 'feature' as well as not being able to make out the escapement.

I also thought some of what I assume to be original didn't look English to me. This is what I expect to see for English capped jewels (as you also indicated) and the movement retaining clip ...

1638003251700.png

John
 
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gmorse

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Hi Enrico,

Well spotted. There also something missing from the empty hole in the top plate next to the 'Fast' engraving. As far as I can see, there's no justification for the crude plate with the 'chronometer' engraving.

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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For what it's worth. I think this watch was made in Prescot. The Serial number, as Mike pointed, out is in a batch of watches all with a Massey II escapement. I then think the watch was later converted to whatever it is now, it could be a Detent, ie that odd plate they added with the word Chronometer. I think it would be hard to find a Swiss watch with that sprung dust cap. Any way you look at it, someone knew what he was doing. I like it. Could be London work.
 

jboger

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Mike:

My Moncas, # 7842, is indeed a Massey II. The close proximity of other serial numbers, those numbers not being his, suggest Moncas placed a rather large order for either movements or completed watches.

I have examples of Massey I, II, and III. The Massey I roller table is a single piece, whereas II and III include a roller jewel. I don't see what advantage either of these have over the Massey I that warrants the extra effort in their manufacture.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,
The Massey I roller table is a single piece, whereas II and III include a roller jewel. I don't see what advantage either of these have over the Massey I that warrants the extra effort in their manufacture.
The use of a jewel as the impulse pin was found to have advantages in reducing friction at this critical point and also limiting wear, which was clearly regarded as worth the extra cost of the jewel since it was universally adopted in subsequent lever escapements. The steel parts of the types II, III and V were probably easier to make and polish than the type I; none of these steel parts were directly engaged with the lever fork.

Regards,

Graham
 
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jboger

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I was just looking at sold Moncas pocket watches on a live auction site (no, not that one). Many Moncas watches have been sold over the years, and many of them in ornate gold cases. One watch stood out from the others. It had a going barrel and a dial signed Rail Way Time Keeper. The silver case was a hunter case and looked like a US case, at least to me. In the US this watch would be called a "Swiss fake."

John
 

John Cote

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I was just looking at sold Moncas pocket watches on a live auction site (no, not that one). Many Moncas watches have been sold over the years, and many of them in ornate gold cases. One watch stood out from the others. It had a going barrel and a dial signed Rail Way Time Keeper. The silver case was a hunter case and looked like a US case, at least to me. In the US this watch would be called a "Swiss fake."
John,

I think this is probably taking the "Swiss Fake" thing too far. For me, a "Swiss Fake" is only a Swiss import that was made to imitate some actual American made watch or at minimum a Swiss watch made to generically look like an American RR watch. Many Swiss Fakes actually had names which were only a bit different from the American watch they were made to look like.

I doubt the Moncas was any of this but I would love to see the photos and to be proven wrong. :banghead:
 

jboger

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John:

I'm not clear with regards to the NAWCC rules. The auction ended in 2015. I've downloaded the pictures to my desktop. I can post them here and cite the source, if that's permissible.

The plates are signed John Moncas / Liverpool. The movement looks quite a bit like a Waltham Model 1857. Definitely not a fusee. Without the watch in hand (there are only three pictures), my guess it is a Swiss watch made for the American market. The case also looks like a typical coin silver hunter case of the 1860s period.

If someone gives me a green light, I will post the pictures.

John B.

I have a genuine Moncas, illustrated above. I would need to check the hallmarks but I recall that it dates to the late 1820s. This watch under discussion now would probably date to the 1850s at the earliest, probably later. I doubt that the John Moncas had anything to do with this watch.--JB
 
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jboger

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It looks like I was not able to download the photos to my desktop. I could provide the URL, again, only if that's permissible.
 
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jboger

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I read the Forum rules and found that I can post links to completed sales. The John Moncas watch that I refer to was sold by Schmidt's via
Liveauctioneers in 2015.

I was not able to download jpegs and therefore can't post them here. However, here is the link: John MOncas / Liverpool watch.

As I stated previously, I think this is a Swiss copy of a US watch, possibly a Waltham Model 1857. I would like to read what others may think.

John
 

John Matthews

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Surely the issue as to whether it is a 'fake' depends solely on whether the watch was made by or was manufactured under the 'direction' of the maker who's signature is on the movement'. The nature of the movement is not the issue, nor for that matter the country where it was manufactured. If John Moncas ordered a watch from America or Switzerland, asked for movement to be engraved with his signature and asked it to be delivered direct to a wholesaler in New York, where it was cased and retailed, it would not be a fake.

However, if this watch was not made under the direct or indirect control of John Moncas and whoever made it had the Moncas name and Liverpool engraved on the movement in order to deceive, irrespective of whether it was made in, Liverpool, Coventry, Switzerland or America, it is a fake.

Mike is far better to judge than me, but it is unlike any example I have seen and being driven by a direct wound barrel, rather than a fusee, makes me favour a fake John Moncas.

John
 

jboger

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OK, let's drop the term "Swiss fake." Whatever it is, it is what it is. I never liked that term, anyway.

Can we answer, based on the photos, the first and most basic question, What is the country of origin? England? The US? Switzerland? I know we only have the one photo.

From the look of it I say this watch is Swiss in origin and made for the American market. May I speculate? In order to undersell both imported (and expensive) English fusees as well as domestically made US watches at the time (1860s, 70s?), there was no way it could be a fusee. That would have added too much to the cost of manufacture and been self-defeating. Besides, the Continent had long ago abandoned the fusee anyway.

So, knowing that English watches were held in high esteem in the States, this hybrid watch was made. It even has Liverpool windows--as did Waltham's Model 1857. I might add, there was no reason why Waltham needed to use Liverpool windows; it was marketing strategy. For many people in the States back then, that's what a watch looked liked, a Liverpool fusee. And that's the market Waltham was trying to capture with the Model 1857. As were the Swiss with this watch.

I don't like the term Swiss fake. Never have. But if I'm correct about this watch, then the motivations behind the production of this watch are the same as those for watches which are commonly called Swiss fakes.

However, if this watch really were a Liverpool product, that would be far more fascinating. But I don't think it is.

John
 

jboger

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When I posted my comment I was directly responding to John Cote's post #72. I had not read either Graham's nor John M's comments.

John M's comments (too many Johns!) are well taken. When I wrote what I had, I was preoccupied with country of origin. It would not be a fake, even if manufactured in Switzerland, were it done under the direction of John Moncas or his descendants. I date this watch and case to the 1860's, possibly 1870s. I don't know how long the Moncas firm was in business. That late?

In the absence of any other information, I agree with Graham that this is a Swiss fake of a Moncas watch. But I would add that it was made for the American market. I assume the case is original. That case looks like a typical US case of the 1860-70s.

John
 

John Cote

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In the absence of any other information, I agree with Graham that this is a Swiss fake of a Moncas watch. But I would add that it was made for the American market. I assume the case is original. That case looks like a typical US case of the 1860-70s.
John,

I agree on the Swiss fake of a Moncas. It is certainly a lot later in manufacture than any Moncas on the list...right.
 

Mike Paice

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Let me come back to this in the morning - it's nearly 01:30 here and can barely construct a sentence. However, definitely a fake of a Moncas - never seen one before (or at least, so blatant a one). And, in response to John Matthews' question, I haven't yet dismantled my #7104 yet - it is an unmolested version of 7103 (will post pictures when I arise) and will have a go at it soon. Mike
 

jboger

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I would like to make the following case: This watch is not really a copy of a Moncas watch. It is a copy of an American style watch made to seem British with the addition of Moncas's name and location. The layout of the plates is American. I won't specify whether it is a copy of Waltham Model 1857 or an early Elgin key wind, for example, but the shape of the barrel bridge and the winding cup with it's three screws to secure it are American in design. And the shape of the balance cock is reminiscent of some of the later Model 1857s. Imagine instead of Moncas's name and Liverpool, a different name and US location were engraved on the plates. Would not then many people call this a Swiss fake in the sense that John Cote has defined above when he referred to Swiss copies of American RR grade watches? I don't think the Swiss would have attempted to sell this watch in England.
 

Mike Paice

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I think that we can all be comfortable that the supposed John Moncas #2830 Railway Time Keeper is nothing to do with John or his sons. That serial number would date a John Moncas movement to 1824 and the movement pictured is clearly much later. The only Moncas pocket watch I'm aware of with the bimetallic split balance wheel is Moncas #851 and I doubt that that is the original balance wheel. There will be no Moncas watches manufactured in Liverpool after 1840 at the absolute latest because that is when the family moved to London and the bookshop was opened. It does seem odd that whoever produced the Railway Time Keeper should put Moncas' details on it. Thomas Moncas described himself again as a 'watch finisher' in the 1861 census (after the bookselling business failed) but he was still in London not Liverpool. In theory, he could have commissioned watches bearing his father's name (or even his brother John Francis Moncas could have) but it seems highly unlikely – Thomas died in 1866 with his occupation listed (if I remember correctly) as 'labourer' and John Francis was never shown as being involved in watch making between the 1850's and his death in 1883. I agree with John B. in post #79 that this is not a copy of a Moncas watch and the Anglicisation of the watch does not really fit the style of any known Moncas watch (although I do have an odd two going-barrels repeater movement in my collection attributed to him).

Going back briefly to John Moncas watch movement #7104 – I've attached images of the two plates before I attempt to dismantle it and will try to take some useful pictures of the internals to help analysis of its origin.

Moncas #7104 (1).png Moncas #7104 (3).png
 
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jboger

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Mike P: May I ask what question you have with regards to # 7104? I see it once had a dial plate, and the dial plate had three feet. This feature strikes me as thoroughly British. This looks like a very fine English movement.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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44444-16.jpg 44444-17.png

For what it's worth. I think this watch was made in Prescot. The Serial number, as Mike pointed, out is in a batch of watches all with a Massey II escapement. I then think the watch was later converted to whatever it is now, it could be a Detent, ie that odd plate they added with the word Chronometer. I think it would be hard to find a Swiss watch with that sprung dust cap. Any way you look at it, someone knew what he was doing. I like it. Could be London work.
I said that on post 62, nothing above as changed my mind, someone took this Moncus watch, and converted it. Look again at the silver plate with CHRONOMETER on it. It was put there to hide the DETACHED LEVER by John Moncus.

I still like it, fake it is not-its a conversion.

Allan.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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PS: 44444-18.jpg I think this is a better example. The little curve above the s in Moncas can be seen, this is the end of the word LEVER.

Allan.
 

Mike Paice

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Hi John B - The only question I have with #7104 is what type of detached lever lives under the plate (I can't tell by looking between the plates). I posted the pictures of it because I think it is a rather nice and unmolested sibling of #7103 and agree with Allan that #7103 is simply a converted Moncas watch movement with English heritage, rather than a fake or Swiss movement. It was earlier discussion of #7103 that mooted the possibility of that movement being a fake but I am content that both movements came out of Moncas' workshop in Castle Street.
 
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