Pocket Watches in Oxford's Ashmolean Museum

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Ethan Lipsig, May 13, 2018.

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  1. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    Jan 8, 2006
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    A few days ago, I was in the Ashmolean, a large, encyclopedic museum, where I stumbled onto its pocket watch collection. The Ashmolean has many lovely watches, almost all pre-1850. Unfortunately, the collection, was poorly displayed. It was difficult to study or photograph. I'd be curious to learn of highlights that I shouldn't have missed.

    DSC03189 (1280x838).jpg DSC03188 - Copy (3) (1280x853).jpg

    Here are some closer views.

    DSC03188 - Copy (1280x1052).jpg DSC03188 (1280x778).jpg DSC03188 - Copy (2) (1280x227).jpg

    (I didn't see, nor had I heard of, the monogram describing highlights of the collection. It was reviewed here. BOOKREVIEW: Thompson: Two Catalogs of Old Watches in English Museums (British Mus/As

    By the display itself, there was a lengthy typed explanation of perhaps 30 percent of the collection, e.g., items 66-125, but the watches in the cases, while numbered, were in random order, making it very difficult to match watches to explanations.)
     
  2. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    The book is available at relatively low prices in Europe £10 to £20 and even cheaper on a certain well known auction site. As the review says a comprehensive description of 31 watches, including a number of German C16th century examples. 21 are from the C16 & C17. Certainly worth getting.

    John
     
  3. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    I hadn't occurred to me to buy a copy, but I just bought one on eBay for US$5.22 including shipping. It would have been nice to have had it when I was in Oxford last week. It won't do me much good here in Los Angeles, where I live, but I do go to Oxford every five years or so.
     
  4. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    I know there is a collection of clocks and watches in the Science Museum in Kensington London
    I had not thought of the Ashmolean Museum having a collecion as well
     
  5. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Les,

    Now that the Clockmaker's Company collection is there as well in its own gallery it's a wonderful resource.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  6. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    It is a wonderful resource IF, like most of all things cultural in the UK, you live within striking distance of London - which the majority of the population do not! There is a significant collection of watches sequestered in the Liverpool Museum, they are not on display and requests for access to them have been denied - to me at least.
     
  7. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Interesting comments ...

    Having spent most of my life in rural and often remote locations, I have not been a frequent visitor to museums since my time at University in London in the 1960s. I certainly have not viewed a watch collection in a museum. However, I do have both David Thompson's books, Whites book on the Clockmakers of London, European Clocks and Watches of the Metropolitan as well as other general descriptive texts that often include descriptions of museum examples. I will never be able to visit all of these collections, possibly I will never visit any of them, but I would not agree with the sentiment that the texts 'won't do me much good here in' Ariege.

    John
     
  8. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    I agree John, this is interesting, I would just like to add, if members are going to take the trouble to go to Europe, and we take London for example, they should write a letter to the curator at the Britsh musem explaining what they would like to see, and make an appointmemt, they will I know, take great efforts to put the watches before your eyes, in some cases they will even let you pick them up and take a look take a look, don´t for forget to take an eye glass and Latex gloves. They will let in, in groups of 10 people at a time, if you are lucky and there are more in your group they will split you into two groups one in the morning and one in the afternoon. This happens in quite a few museums I have visited over the years. Going back to the Ashmolean, the book is fine but is only a fraction of the collection, "Borbbles on walls" I call them, but if you put "Pocket Watches at the Ashmolean " on Google you can at least see some of these watch cases close up. See below. If you do write to the BM I believe at the moment the curator is Laura Turner and Oliver Cook. Very nice people.

    921d55afdb678bde2400572b92c89a04--antique-watches-vintage-watches.jpg 740649.jpg e0cddf337ea54c2b26c60aae7af7ac63.jpg

    PS. When I did the request above in 2013 & 2016 I asked one year before each visit, they have a long list.
     
  9. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    And also for visitors to London ... the V&A (Victoria & Albert) Museum in Kensington has an astonishing array of pocket watches. I don't know how or why they got them, since the V&A's primary interest is "design", but the displayed collection is well worth seeing.
     
  10. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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  11. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Horology
    horology.jpg
    The Barry Astronomical Clock

    National Museums Liverpool's horology collections are extensive, containing over 12,000 items and are of international significance.

    The clock and watch collection of some 1,200 items includes clocks of high quality such as:

    • Tompion's workshop clock from the Joseph Mayer collection, the astronomical regulator clock by William Bond acquired from Bidston Observatory.
    • A long case clock by William Barker of Wigan.
    • An astronomical clock made in Ormskirk by Thomas Barry.
    • Some of Liverpool's earliest watches made by Samuel and Thomas Aspinwall.
    • a Charles Gretton watch and a clock watch by Edward East (watchmaker to Charles I).
    The collections include a number of observatory clocks and regulators; turret clocks; chronometers (including maritime) and precision watches; cylinder watches; and special industrial clocks and watches.

    Another highlight of the collection is the large number of horological workshop tools, including gear-cutting engines and complete watchmakers' workshops. It also holds the Lancashire Watch Company's archive, parts of the Mercer archive and is supported by a very fine horological and history of science library of national importance. The collection also includes a scientific and horological makers database of 45,000 records.

    Horology makers database
    Use our horology database to search for records of makers involved in the scientific instrument and horology trades.

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    We must not forget Liverpool, there are the watches, like those you have at home.Best Allan
     

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