My latest Joseph Johnson

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Lychnobius, Mar 31, 2020.

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  1. Lychnobius

    Lychnobius Registered User

    Aug 5, 2015
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    Here is Joseph Johnson No. 30309, a 19-jewel English-lever fusee with compensated balance in a silver case with Chester hallmarks for 1861. John Matthews brought it to my notice as a candidate for the Johnson database, as he has often done recently (thank you, John!), and I determined to bag it for myself. Despite a very worn (though perfectly solid) case and a rather battered dial, it has proved to be the most practical watch I have owned so far and has gone straight to the head of what I call my bread-and-butter list, meaning those watches which are fit for everyday use. Timekeeping is certainly within thirty seconds a day. The hands are substitutes and a little too short, but they are appropriate for the period and a good fit on the cannon-pinion. The only real drawback is that the fusee-chain is also too short, and by more than a little, so that I have to wind the watch twice a day while keeping a close eye on the barrel to ensure that I do not wind the hook clean out of its hole, since the stop-work does not engage. As none of my spare chains is both long enough and thin enough, I shall have to live with this for a while.

    The case sponsors are apparently Samuel & Rogers of Wood Street, Liverpool (S&R in an oval cameo); I say 'apparently' because Priestley does not record this mark,or indeed any mark for this partnership, until 1864. I believe the movement is five or six years older than the case, since I have a record of a later movement (32487) with marks for 1857. Nonetheless the case was certainly purpose-made, and I feel it can be counted as original, since it seems unlikely that a watch should have needed re-casing so early in its life. There could be many reasons why the movement was left uncased for a few years; possibly it 'fell off the back of a lorry' (as we say in England) on its way to Liverpool Docks for export to the United States, or perhaps it was given to a pieceworker in lieu of cash payment – a disreputable and indeed illegal practice, but one which persisted in the watchmaking industry – and so took some time to find its way onto the retail market.

    It may sound ridiculous, but in these anxious times I feel a tiny but perceptible lifting of the heart whenever I put this watch to my ear and listen to its strong and imperturbable chump-chump-chump.

    Oliver Mundy.

    johnson_30309_back_new.jpg johnson_30309_back_new2.jpg johnson_30309_dial_new.jpg johnson_30309_front.jpg johnson_30309_marks.jpg
     
  2. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Sep 22, 2015
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    #2 John Matthews, Mar 31, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
    Oliver - I am glad the purchase was successful.

    Regarding the case maker's mark, the apparent discrepancy between the date of the case and the registration date as shown in Priestley may be because of the missing Chester records. The three metal plates containing maker's marks covered the periods 1701-1841, 1841-1860 & 1860-1883. Many of the marks on the second plate are badly struck or over-struck making identification very difficult. Furthermore, the marks register for the first two plates no longer exist and the earliest existing register of marks, the Small Punch Book, dates from 16 October, 1863, some three years after the introduction of Plate 3. I therefore infer that it is possible that Samuel & Roger may have registered an earlier mark, but the record no longer exists. From trade directories, Samuel was operating alone in 1855 and the partnership with Rodgers was active by 1863, unfortunately I have no directories from the intervening period to determine when the partnership was actually formed.

    John

    EDIT - Oliver if you have chance, could you please post a photograph of the Samuel & Rogers maker's mark - thanks
     
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  3. Lychnobius

    Lychnobius Registered User

    Aug 5, 2015
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    Thank you, John. Would 'Samuel' be Ralph? As it happens, my Johnson 15488 lives in a Ralph Samuel case of 1857, although (as so often) it does not belong there. – The sponsorial marks are both badly struck and I can make little of them with the means at my disposal. Instead I have redrawn the mark as shown herewith. I can answer for the general form of the characters and for the fact that there are no stops between them.

    Oliver Mundy.

    samuel_&_rogers_mark.jpg
     
  4. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Sep 22, 2015
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    Oliver - okay - we can do this a different way ...

    Here is the entry from Ridgeway and Priestley, which you can compare with the case marks ...

    Johnson #30309 S&R001.jpg

    I have now tracked down the partnership dates ...

    Ralph Samuel was listed at various Liverpool address prior to 1857, in which year he is listed at 72 Wood Street. Arthur Guinness Rogers is recorded at his 'manufactory' also at 72 Wood Street, in February 1859. In October 1860 both Mary Samuel and Arthur Rogers are recorded at the same location and in 1862 they are listed as Samuel & Rogers, watch case manufactures. Mary Samuel is listed as Mrs Ralph Samuel living at 18 Faulkner Street, Liverpool also in 1862. I think this supports my earlier inference.

    John
     
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  5. Lychnobius

    Lychnobius Registered User

    Aug 5, 2015
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    Semi-retired designer & printer
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    Allowing for the fact that the Chester assay-office staff seem to have had a very good lunch or a very bad night on the day my case was stamped, the third mark down (numbered #8008-10 and dated 16 July 1864) precisely matches the one I have.

    Oliver Mundy.
     

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