My Great-grandfather’s Watch

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Pleepow, Jun 2, 2019.

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  1. Pleepow

    Pleepow Registered User

    Jun 1, 2019
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    I inherited an 18K (maybe rose gold) R&G Beesley pocket watch. The inscription is 1856. The numbers 24633 are stamped inside the cover on each side. I could not open the back to see the inner workings, but my son is taking it to the jeweler. Could anyone give me more information or tell me where to look for information on this watch? Thank you!

    3B0CBA04-252D-4F31-ABC6-79BE3D2DB9F8.jpeg 36515DDD-F21D-4248-AECB-239BC9DB925C.jpeg 55887817-8787-40BB-B9F8-57818B798BBD.jpeg E8AB8370-D874-477F-A11B-DF8F1D36D746.jpeg
     
  2. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Pleepow, and welcome to the forum,

    Richard and George Beesley were a respected firm of watch and chronometer makers in Liverpool who made and exported many uncased movements to the US, where they were put in cases by local craftsmen. This was to avoid the US customs duties on complete watches in precious metal cases, and your watch appears to be an example of this. Liverpool was ideally placed to take advantage of this transatlantic trade and many other Liverpool watchmakers were involved in it.

    Some pictures of the movement would be most interesting when you're able to have it opened; these normally swing out on a hinge when the front bezel, (which holds the glass), is removed. It's wound with a key, and opening the back should reveal a fixed inner back cover with a hole for the key to be fitted. It winds anti-clockwise in all probability, but it's better not to run the watch until it's been serviced, since it probably hasn't been used or overhauled for some years. A view of the movement may well give some indication of its age, since the US marks in the case don't include any precise dating information.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  3. Pleepow

    Pleepow Registered User

    Jun 1, 2019
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    Thank you, Graham. My son promises to send pictures while at the jeweler’s. There was no key. Once the watch is serviced, where might I be able to get a key to wind it?
     
  4. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Pleepow,

    The jewellers shop your son takes it to may or may not have much experience with 19th century English watches, so finding someone where you are who's willing, (and competent), to service it may need some searching. Sets of pocket watch keys are always available on the big auction site quite cheaply and although they're pretty basic they'll be adequate.

    Looking again at your pictures, I believe I can see a small cut-out in the case near the 6 o'clock point which is where the catch holding the movement in the case sits, and also another one near 5 o'clock which may be where a balance brake lever should be. These allow the watch to be stopped and started when it's being set from another clock or watch, but have often been wholly or partially removed by previous owners or service people.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  5. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

    Sep 22, 2015
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    Hi Pleepow,

    Your case was probably made in Burlington, Vermont by Pangborn and Brinsmaid (their mark P&B) ...

    upload_2019-6-2_23-10-33.png upload_2019-6-2_23-11-26.png

    Pangborn was master to Brinsmaid ~1825 and Pangborn and Brinsmaid operated from Pangborn's shop on Church Street from 30 Aug 1833 to 19 Aug 1843. The firm of Richard and George Beesley operated in Liverpool from 1827 to ~1875 and I believe your watch corresponds to the period when Pangborn and Brimsmaid were active.

    John
     
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  6. Chris Radek

    Chris Radek Registered User
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    To expand on what Graham (who is being very polite) is saying: most jewelry shops won't have anyone who even knows how to open this watch, and if they are particularly bold and egregious they may try prying on the back of the case proper (which doesn't open) or do other damage. It's easy to make this mistake because some American and many Swiss watches open that way.

    Yours requires nothing more than a thumbnail to expose the movement for photographs, and if anyone heads toward it with any tool, grab it and run! Anyone who can service it for you can definitely provide a suitable key too.
     
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  7. Pleepow

    Pleepow Registered User

    Jun 1, 2019
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    Here are 2 more pictures. The date inscribed on the watch is July 30?,1856 (maybe retirement?).
    Sharing all of this wonderful info with my son.
    How would I find someone who is knowledgeable about this kind of watch? This is new territory for me.

    1C86BCE3-5601-45B4-9796-4AC9FDEC1A3F.jpeg 64E5D57E-45C5-4AC6-871B-7165CC406D2A.jpeg
     
  8. Chris Radek

    Chris Radek Registered User
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    We're right here!

    What you see there is the dust cover. At the upper left of your photo, that long blue spring going around near the edge has a little knob in the center. You can use this to slide it clockwise with your fingernail, and then the dust cover will lift off and you can finally see the movement.
     
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  9. Chris Radek

    Chris Radek Registered User
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    I'm sorry, that sounded more flippant than I intended. What I mean is I think there is no store/shop you can visit (at least in the US?) where you'll find folks more knowledgeable about English watches than this forum.

    To find someone to service it, you should be open to mailing it to an expert, and you can find them here. If you hang out for a while, or read some back posts, you will easily identify these experts, and then you can use the "Conversations" feature of the forum to contact someone in private to arrange having the work done, or to ask for a recommendation, etc.
     
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  10. Pleepow

    Pleepow Registered User

    Jun 1, 2019
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    Thank you, Chris! I did not think you were flippant. I know absolutely nothing about this except that I have always loved this watch. I am so grateful for the help that I am getting from you, Graham, and John!
    The pocket watch (along 2 others) has been in my drawer for years. I am passing them on to my son (27th birthday yesterday) and am sharing all of the posts with him.
    I will post more pictures when he opens the dust cover. This feels a little like peeling the layers of an onion!
    I am certainly open to sending it off to an expert, and would prefer to do that, if it means that someone who knows this type of watch will service it!
     
  11. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

    Sep 22, 2015
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    Hi again - I need to correct this statement after seeing the date on the watch and paying more attention to the photograph of the dial. The two piece design of the dial with its separate sunken subsidiary secondary is more likely to be post 1850. That being said it corresponds to the date of the engraving. There are a number of possibilities. The enddate of the partnership corresponds to the death of Amos Pangborn.

    Subsequently, Brinsmade continued to trade ....
    • He was a partner in 1850-1854 with William Bliss Brinsmade and Chester Hildreth in Burlington VT as BRINSMAID, BROTHER & Co. With shop on Church Street
    • He appeared on the 1850 census taken at Burlington VT, listed as a jeweller.
    • Master to George Bliss Brimsmaid ~1854 in Burlington VT.
    • He worked in 1854-1880 as a jeweller in Burlington VT
    • Listed in the 1867 city directory on Church Street.
    There is quite a number of Brinsmades and the name may be familiar with silver experts in the US.

    As different marks were used in the later partnerships, it is possible that an old case was used to case the imported movement at the time it was engraved. This is difficult to determine without having the watch in hand. In your last photograph the movement does appear to be 'off-centre' from the case, but that might be because of the angle that the photograph was taken or the movement has dropped slightly in the case, because of the way it is being held (I assume it was being held vertically).

    If it has been re-cased, where this was done will no doubt be where the original owner lived at that time - Burlington?

    John

     
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  12. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    Whilst these sunk seconds dials are usually considered to date post 1850s, I'm not so sure that this isn't a little late to draw this particular line. There seems to be some evidence that they were being fitted as early as the 1820s on occasion.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  13. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    Hi Graham - I did say 'more likely' - hedging my bets to some extent, although I was not aware there were examples as early as the 1820's. I thought 1840's - if you can post an early example that would be appreciated.

    For this watch, taken with the engraving for 1856 and also this example dated from 1848, with a single piece dial, I think my inference that it is post 1850 is reasonable.

    However, I do note that there is an example with a sunken dial on David Penney's site, in a very up-market American case, that he has dated as ~1840. The casemaker operated in New York throughout the 1840's and possibly into the 1850's. You can find this watch (#23432) on p.48 of 'Your Time' where it is dated as ~1845. This illustrates that dating such movements, in cases without hallmarks, is never easy.

    John
     
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  14. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    I can't post a link to it, because it's currently for sale, but if you look at our favourite dealer's site you should find it without too much trouble. The case is hallmarked 1829/30.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  15. Lychnobius

    Lychnobius Registered User

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    The fact that the head of the cock screw protrudes into the dust-cap through a hole is another feature that does not usually appear until well into the 1850s; previously the screw-head was flush with the cock foot, which had a step cut in it around the hole, so that there was no need to pierce the cap. Of course, as with the sunken seconds dial, there may be early exceptions.

    Oliver Mundy.
     
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  16. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

    Sep 22, 2015
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    Graham - my thanks for your hint

    I found the example you referred to. It has now been sold (marked as reserved). The description given is 'Two-piece dial with sunk seconds bit, a feature of enamel dials that started to appear in London work in the 1820’s'.

    After I found it, I did a quick search of that site for 'sunken seconds' - many examples but I could find another example that early. I then went through my photographic library - similarly unsuccessful. So given that we have evidence of some relatively uncommon early examples from London, my question is when did the sunken dial reach Liverpool? In other words can the collectors of Liverpool watches please check to find the earliest sunken second (two piece) dial.

    John
     
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  17. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    #17 Keith R..., Jun 4, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
    My earliest is 1836, John Ward, but London..
    The next earliest with sunken 2nd's bit, J. Johnson 1842 and Liverpool.

    Good point from both Graham and John.

    ****edit for Pleepow............You probably can start researching on Liverpool runners.

    Keith R...
     
  18. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    Thanks Keith - I'm rather busy at the moment, but I think we need a thread of dials showing the trends in design with particular reference to the secondary seconds.

    John
     
  19. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Yes, only demonstrating it might be a valid point.

    Keith R...
     
  20. Pleepow

    Pleepow Registered User

    Jun 1, 2019
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    Gentlemen, you lost me at sunken seconds dials and Liverpool runners! I am such a novice, but am trying to learn. When you have time, could one of you please explain?
     
  21. PatH

    PatH National Program Chair
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    Hi, Pleepow, and welcome to the message board.

    The gentlemen who have been responding have much, much more knowledge than I, but like you, I am trying to learn.

    If you click on the magnifying glass in the upper right and type Liverpool runner on the search line then click the Search button, you will find links to many threads about this type of watch. The answers may not apply to your specific watch, or the maker, but they do include much information about the Liverpool watches. Alternatively, you can type in Beesley to find threads about your watch's maker.

    Sunken seconds dial refers to the style of your watch's dial where the seconds dial is "sunk", or lower than the rest of the dial.

    Hope this helps and good luck with your wonderful piece of history!
    Pat
     
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  22. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Pleepow,

    I'm sorry, we do tend to lapse into jargon sometimes, forgetting that it is just that, a sort of cenvenient shorthand!

    Pat has explained sunk seconds very clearly, and the term 'Liverpool Runner' refers to the way the internal wheels of the movement are arranged between the plates. The Liverpool makers tended to favour this particular layout, which isn't often found in watches made in other centres. As she says, if you search on this board for the term you should find as much detail as you need.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  23. PatH

    PatH National Program Chair
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    Thanks, Graham - not only for your explanation above, but also for your willingness to share you knowledge!

    Pat
     
  24. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    #24 Keith R..., Jun 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
    Thanks Pat.............good catch, thanks Graham, good lead in.

    Pleepow, the team will await any questions you may have on your watch example.
    Follow Pat's instructions so you might learn the archives and background on your
    watch.

    Edit...I sent Pleepow a Rob Roscoe (Liverpool runner) and a Lewis Samuel
    (conventional train), with both being 17J.

    Keith R...
     
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  25. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Another way to say a sunken seconds bit, is a "Two piece dial".

    Keith R...
     
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  26. Pleepow

    Pleepow Registered User

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    Here is a picture of the inner workings of the watch. Looking forward to hearing more. Thank you in advance!

    0F8B93CB-9557-4B12-AD7E-53DA9BB1C45D.jpeg
     
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  27. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Pleepow,

    Thanks for the good picture of the movement, which shows a very typical Liverpool watch with huge jewels, the barrel ratchet wheel on the top with a click spring, (not strictly necessary but more often seen on Liverpool work and something that's more common on box chronometers), the train in 'Liverpool Runner' configuration, and the word 'Patent' on the balance cock foot. This latter may or may not refer to the type of escapement it has, because it could just be a piece of marketing. It also has a cut compensated balance wheel, a rather superior feature which helps the watch to run at a consistent rate in varying temperatures. A very desirable watch indeed!

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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