Robert Roskell Numbers File.

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Allan C. Purcell, Oct 5, 2017.

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  1. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Anyone who follows the R. Roskell numbers file. will know there are huge gaps, many of the watches he produced, of course, will have been worn out and been ignored, and as the way things are, thrown away, and at the early period no doubt, many would have gone to the bottom of the oceans, or blown away in wars, plus later the scrappers did a lot of damage to antique watches worldwide, sadly it still goes on.

    By the year 1813/14, Robert Roskell had reached 10,000 watches sold. That for the period was a huge number by any standard. It is my opinion that quite a few of these watches are still with us, though signed by other sponsors. Proving that is not going to be easy, and some people will never agree. Roughly estimated at some 750 watches per year, and all Rack levers. To do that there must have been a large putting-out system, with Liverpool and Prescot, and organised by Roskell. We all know by now that a large workforce was needed to produce a single watch, we also know from the work of others on this board, that these watches were made in batches, but no parts were matching, each watch was individual, which follows each case was individual too. If we look at the watches in the raw, Roskell´s team or workforce would have eventually come to one of the later skills of the watchmaker, the engraver, and he would have engraved the watch before it was gilded. Who told him what he was to engrave. In this case Roskell. Did Roskell put many of these watches aside, and signed for other firms. These and other questions are what I am looking into at the moment if anyone wants to join in, please let me know.

    z-13.jpg This watch is only here as an example of what I am talking about, those with Tobias watches will not be pleased I know but bear with me. I am only saying it could be a Roskell watch. (M.I. Tobias & Co 1811-1880) The number on this watch is 8724 if Roskell it would be 1811/12. It has Patent on the cock, and at that time the patent belonged to Roskell, I could be way out, what do members think.

    Allan.
     
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  2. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Allan - my observations are in regard to the Tobias #8724 in the previous post.

    I am no Tobias expert and leave further comments to those who are more knowledgeable on the watches signed by him.

    This rack lever watch is cased in perfectly fitting 18K gold pair cases with genuine Chester hallmarks for 1826/27 The case carries the mark [TH &Co] for Thomas Helsby & Co then based at 22 Northampton Street, Liverpool - a maker's mark found on Morris Tobias signed watches and other hollowware around this date. The date sits in a very narrow range of time when this mark is found. Perhaps more significantly the case also carries T&Co a mark that has been attributed to Tobias & Co. This mark is known to me on genuine English cases of containing Tobias signed watches, some exported cased to America, in the period 1815 to the date of this watch. I have not seen it on watches with serial numbers > 10000, many of those I have observed have American cases with faux hallmarks. To my knowledge, the only other occurrence of the T&Co mark is on a rather unusually cased Massey I, carrying the signature of a Preston retailer, that is in my collection. This Chester 1824/25 case carries the maker's mark of John Walker of Chester (see here).

    I did suggest that the Dublin signed McMaster movement that I posted a couple of years ago here was a Roskell rack lever that had subsequently been converted to a single roller post 1820. In this example, I discovered a hidden serial number beneath both the dial and the cock. I believe we both agree this may be the original Roskell serial number. Who converted that watch? - we shall probably never know.

    John
     
  3. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    John, thank you for your remarks on the above, my choice of the M.I.Tobias was straight of the net, I did not see the case at all, it was just a watch I thought could fit my ideas about the numbers on Roskell watches. Now reading the above, am I correct in saying the watch case is a silver cased, dated 1824/25, or are you talking about 8727´s case. I think it would help if I left it here and try to find the case. Not that it matters, M.I.Tobias started in 1811, do you think they could have numbered watches with 8727 by 1824? This is a hypothetical idea of mine, hoping that ideas will flow to and fro. Another good example is your, Vale & Compy. watch, that too is from a company newly started. One thing we must remember here, that the Rack lever was the most accurate watch of the period. (You can forget the few Levers since Mudge, that the man in the street could never afford) We are talking here from 1800 to 1813/14. (and Rack levers with early numbers not on the Roskell file, were they sold to others by Roskell or did the sponsor finish them). An exciting time for modern research.

    z-36.jpg From the McMaster watch. A very good example of what John is talking about. I must admit I was tempted to put it on the Roskell File. Does anyone else think they have an early Roskell along these lines?

    Allan.
     
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  4. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    This refers to the Tobias watch ...

    It was listed in your Roskell file of 28 March 2017, you also included your thoughts, together with my photographs, on p. 17

    upload_2019-11-21_18-40-15.png

    but you removed it. It was referenced in the 22/10/2018 version, but not in the 24/11/2018 version.

    John
     
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  5. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    #105 Allan C. Purcell, Nov 21, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2019
    John, you are quite right, at the time I removed your McMaster from that 22/10/2018 my thoughts were to keep the Roskell file pure if you like. I only wanted true Roskell watches, but since then my views have changed, and with new information, I thought I should try again to get some of these "NEARLY" Roskell watches on the file, but separate from the others. So starting with page thirty-six of the new file is your McMaster watch. I then intend to put in a graph page with more of these watches, but first I have to find them. One of the problems are the owners, I will have to see how that moves along. I am hoping some of our members will respond, and then go from there.

    Allan.
     
  6. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    I have been spending time thinking about this thread, and have also taken some advice. I think my choice of M.I.Tobias 8724 was not the best I could have chosen, plus the watch did not belong to me. I should have taken my time, and researched it better.
    So I intend to start again, and this time with a watch that I own. Again an M.I.Tobias, only this time it is signed M.J.Tobias & Co. Liverpool. (See photograph) numbered 2534.

    i-1.JPG i-2.JPG i-3.JPG i-4.JPG i-5.JPG

    I am off now to research yet again the Liverpool firm of Tobias & Co.
     
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  7. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Another watch I own, you may have seen before. This time the sponsor is William Moon II app. 1799 son of Christopher Moon q v., CC108-42. The father Christopher was at Holborn London and CC 1768. Succeeded William Edwards. So why this one?

    The Barrell plate is signed Willm. Moon, Holborn Bars, London, and there is no number on the watch I can find. There may be one under the cock or dial. This watch started life as a Liverpool Rack lever, and probably never had anything to do with Robert Roskell, though we can not rule him out altogether. This proves only that at the early period of the Rack lever escapement London and others wanted this new design. The case is hallmarked London "n" for 1828/29 case maker GC for George Conen, 6, Hull Street St. Lukes. 1820-32. This is a large watch with 121gr. and a 50mm dial. This watch was converted to STR at one time or the other, and it could have been re.cased at the same time ie; 1828/29. The Litherland Rack escapement would have about 30 years old when this watch was converted. to be cont.....
     
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  8. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    The way the watch is converted to STR is also of interest, a new block was installed to take the balance and the table roller. (In this case a large red stone in the table, much like a Massey V) The 15 tooth escape wheel could be original (?) but then the pivots for the Lever are set in what were once the slides for the Rack Lever. This early STR has a forked end to the lever and only a single banking pin in the middle, always a sign of early work on this type of escapement.


    i-6.JPG i-7.JPG i-10.JPG i-11.JPG i-12.JPG i-13.JPG i-14.JPG

    To sum up, I think this watch was an early Rack lever c 1808-10, and later converted 1828/29, and at that time fitted with the silver case. i-46.JPG
     
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  9. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Will Know more about this movement when it arrives, but for now, I think a nice look at the liver-bird is worthwhile. If he was using his Brothers numbers 8862 (they were at one time partners) it would be c1809/10. Syle fits.

    y-44 (2).jpg y-44 (3).jpg
    Strange Bosley regulator?


    y-44.jpg Cheers, Allan.
     
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  10. Omexa

    Omexa Registered User
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    Hi Allan, it is a very strange Regulator. I have not seen any post from Germany; the movement you sent to me and the movement that I purchased. Post is very slow to Darwin. Regards Ray
     
  11. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    The Book from America arrived today. Will let you know all about it when I have read it. "The History of the American watch Case"
     
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  12. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi Ray, any news on the English packet?? The John Roskell arrived today, very dirty, but I think it would run if it had a chain. You can see the Bosley Regulator, very simple construction, you can also see the batch marks that were under the cock. I think this set must be quite early for the Roskell partnership. The number would indicate a date of c1810. Great Liver Bird, though a HO HO would have pleased me more.

    Allan


    b-15.JPG b-16.JPG b-17.JPG b-18.JPG
     
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  13. Omexa

    Omexa Registered User
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    Hi Allan, no news on the Verge you kindly sent to me. I will have another search on the Tracking. Regards Ray
     
  14. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    If you have time. could members look at the last page, and tell if they have anything that could match the two one there or something like them.

    Best wishes,

    Allan.

    [​IMG]
     

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  15. Omexa

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    Hi Allan, I am really impressed by the amount of time and research that you have put into the
    Robert Roskell Numbers File. Regards Ray
     
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  16. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Thank you, Ray, I hope to hear more good news from you next week. Here is a question for you? I read this in the AHS this month.

    The question is from Andrew Bagg´s

    "As someone interested in the development of lever watches, I have been lucky enough to examine a number of early Massey escapements that are without draw, by which I mean the locking face of the pallets, being circular, is dead beat. I had presumed that the circular finish to the locking edges of the pallets was derived from the earlier rack lever pallet frames, however, all the (relatively few) rack lever pallets I have examined are polished flat. My question to the members is: does anyone know of examples of rack levers with circular finished pallet frames? if so, I, and I am sure others, would be most grateful to know of their existence. That you. Andrew Baggs.

    Interesting, what.

    I sent him the three photographs below.

    b-27.JPG b-28.JPG b-29.JPG
     
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  17. Omexa

    Omexa Registered User
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    Hi Allan, all my Rack Lever movements and Pocket Watches run so nicely that it would be a shame to pull them apart. Regards Ray
     
  18. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    I know the feeling, I don´t strip out watches either, the one above has a broken pivot, so it's laying there in a box till I get round to having it fixed. I wonder though if it's worth it, and I have so many more that could be fixed. wont a Job. Anyway I told the chap I don´t think so, I also told him the earlier Rack levers were highly polished and the later ones were jewelled. I then put him touch with someone who would know, so all is well, that ends well.

    Heres to you and yours,

    Allan.
     
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  19. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi, Ray,
    This one won't arrive still the middle of Jan. next year, along with 3 others. They, though, are not Roskell or Rack levers.
    This one does not have slides, though it does have the 15 seconds dial and the imposed VI and though the minute hand is a little short I think they could be the original Gold Hands.

    Have a beer or two on me over the new year. Keep healthy, wealthy, and Wise.

    Allan.

    ä-2.jpg ä-1.jpg
     
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  20. Keith R...

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    Possible Massey I (slides but not a rack):???:

    Keith R...
     
  21. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    This is what the seller says. If it turns out to be a Massey. I will send it back. I do think there is something wrong when looking at the lever arm, but we will see in the new year. (I have Rack levers without slides)

    This is a 15-second rack lever movement by Robert Roskell. Liverpool
    It is 46.5mm across the dial
    The dial is chipped at 12.00
    It runs for a few minutes and then stops.
    It all looks Ok but dirty

    Or do you want to buy it for the dial:cool:

    Allan.
     
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  22. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    #122 Keith R..., Dec 26, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2019
    No, I already made my 1816 switch. :D

    1816 rack lever (Lawrance) shown.

    You should have offered last year.;)

    Happy new year............Pooch pics tomorrow.

    Keith R...

    100_3439 (1200x900).jpg
     
  23. Steve Davenport

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    I have a watch here I can’t find in your records is there a new updated list any where
     
  24. Travler1

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    Hello Allan

    How goes the task ! I commend you for taking it on. I believe u might have transposed a number on my pair cased Roskell PC
    Please view the photos . I make this out as Chester assay 1826 and case maker possibly Nicholes Lee ? Movement # 396/39488

    I still do not understand why some of roskell’s Pocket Chronometers do not have a prefix Chronometer number ? I’m specifically speaking of Roskell’s # 6078 which we discussed this year in depth ....being a recased movement with the new case dating to apx 1850 and then presented to an employee of a American RR company in St Lewis Missouri.

    I’ll leave u with this puzzle as I have the easy part ...asking questions !!

    Wish you the best ...John
     
  25. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi John, I will write more on your Roskell tomorrow, just got back from a trip to north Germany. 396/is the chronometer number, and the 39488 is Robert Roskell Seniors serial number, which will give you the rough date of 1825 to1828. The case tells the truth.

    Happy New Year mate,

    Allan.
     
  26. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi John, Talking about numbers, I was always under the impression that when it came to chronometers the small number was the chronometer, and the large number was the number of items sold by the firm. I am no longer sure, so tomorrow I shall be doing some maths, I am beginning to believe the large number is the serial number. Will get back to you.

    Allan
     
  27. Allan C. Purcell

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  28. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Last night I could not get the File to work on the board, so left it till this morning, see above, I would like those who are interested in the Roskell pocket watch to take a look at page 20 in the file and then take the large number on the pocket chronometers and check them for the date range. After doing that take a look at the dates given by Mercer on the right. I think you will find we have a small number for the chronometer and the large number is Robert Roskell´s serial number. I have often said that after Roskell died in 1847 (retired 1843) I did not take much notice of the later work by the firm, I think it is time I took more interest, I may even re-write the section on the chronometers.


    Allan



    [​IMG]
     

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  29. Travler1

    Travler1 Registered User
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    Wow OMG....I smell burning midnight oil ! Your work is overwhelming, such an asset for Roskell enthusiast ...and belated happy New Years back to you
     
  30. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi John, you will have read the PM by now, and I hope you like it.

    Thanks to "Travler 1 I took some time today to re-write the Roskell file. You will also be pleased to note it is now a few pages less than before. I also tracked down where the statement was made in Tony Mercer's book on page 323 of Chronometers Makers of the world" where he says the small number is that of the chronometer and the larger number the amount of objects sold by the firm. I have believed this for quite some time. and never looked at what was obvious. The small number is the chronometer, but the larger number is the Robert Roskell seniors serial number. Please take a look at the new File, and see if you agree. Comments are welcome. Now I understand the system used by Roskell I will now take more notice of his later work and that of the firm. The new part starts on page 14.
    Allan.

    [​IMG]
     

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  31. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    John, I must here apologise, looking again since Saturday at 6078, yes we did discuss that pocket watch, and at that time I still believed the small number was the chronometer and the larger number (when there) was the number of items sold by the company. This is no longer true. It now turns out that 6078 could well be Robert Roskell´s first chronometer. Why you might ask? I think it´s a case of knowing the man. Roskell was not a watchmaker. he was an entrepreneur and organizer of a large workforce. Roskell had organized and sold 10,000 watches by 1810. Compare that with the other well-known makers in Liverpool at that time, and they stand in his shadow, and if fact many of them made the watches Roskell was selling. To keep pace with his ever-growing business he used a serial number, and his first chronometer would have been given such a number. It then struck him it would be easier to keep track of these new expensive watches if he gave them the double number, as others in the trade had done. Another might show up at some time, but looking at 29/6080 I would say not. I ask myself was 28/6079 the first? If that turned up??

    So I have tidied up the Roskell file, for you and others who, maybe interested. Please forgive my oversight. Allan
     

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  32. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    The Roskell file above is not correct on page 2.

    Here is how it looks now. Allan

    [​IMG]
     

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  33. DGZ

    DGZ Registered User

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    R. Roskell 45801 on ebay currently (March 2020) in a Samuel Saltmarsh (London) 1839 case.
     
  34. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Thank you DGZ, I would be grateful if you could send the eBay number. While looking I found another No. 48029 a three quarter plate STR. Thanks again Allan.
     
  35. DGZ

    DGZ Registered User

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    The 45801 item number: 114122685881
     
  36. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Thanks again DGZ, found the watch and would have bought it, but for the post and import duties, I must say I am surprised it's still there. Allan.
     
  37. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Up-date. 3/12/2020
     

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  38. Enavance

    Enavance Registered User

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    Here is my Robert Roskell rack lever watch No 7788 and its description by Antiquorum, the auctioneer.
    The letters on the case are not "LH", but "TH".
    In this auction, held in Geneva in october 1995, three other Roskell watches were sold (Nos 8158, 32420 and 42949) Those three are listed in your file.I made a photo of the pages of the catalogue.

    IMG_0051.JPG IMG_0032.JPG IMG_0034.JPG IMG_0040.JPG IMG_0044.JPG IMG_0048.JPG IMG_0053.JPG IMG_0054.JPG IMG_0052.JPG
     
  39. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi Enavance, thank you very much for the interesting information, it is not often that I receive information from a purchase from 25 years ago, and you still have the catalogue. I am now off to install your very nice watch.

    Very Best Wishes,

    Allan.

    [​IMG]
     

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  40. Enavance

    Enavance Registered User

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    Hello Allan, you are welcome ! And thank you the Robert Roskell Numbers File. It is a very interesting and useful thread.

    IMG_0036.JPG IMG_0033.JPG IMG_0038.JPG IMG_0045.JPG
     
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  41. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    #141 Allan C. Purcell, Jun 3, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2020
    I was sent this photograph of a watch supposedly made by (Sold by) Thomas Ducker of Prescot Lancashire. At the time the watch was made, Prescot was a small town near Liverpool, and well know for tool making for the watch trade.
    This watch is an early RACK lever with slides. Of interest to me is the number on the watch No.1. If there is anyone who knows more about this watch please get in touch. The case is of a later date of 1884. Thomas Ducker, at the moment is unknown. Though there were Ducker´s in Cheshire, not far from Liverpool, but no Thomas.

    81-6.JPG It is quite obvious that this watch as much in common with the Rack levers by Robert Roskell-see above, or in the above file.

    Allan.
     
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  42. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    A new and interesting chronometer by Roskell´s on pages 11 & 41, One of our members would like answers to a couple of questions. One I think I have answered, the second not.
     

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  43. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    155-1 (2).JPG Some of our members will have seen this on the board, so all I can say is I contacted the owner, and we came to an agreeable agreement. All I had to go by was this photograph, no name no number, but I felt it must be Roskell, and early. (I also bought the other Rack lever 29313)

    200-5.JPG The dial as seen better times, but I think it can be improved, and with new gold hands it will look much better.

    200-3.JPG 200-4.JPG The number 9065 R. Roskell, Liverpool Rack Lever, 30 tooth escape wheel, 15 seconds sub-dial. There are only 14 in this series recorded, now 15. So it goes without saying I am most pleased with this movement. c1808/09. (Sorry John no initials in the cap).

    200-1.JPG 200-2.JPG Another surprise was to find it still runs. In this first photo, you can see where the hinge was ripped out when removing it from its case. The second photo you can see the stop piece, but the hack lever is gone, need to look under the dial later.

    More later...... plus a big thank you to the seller.

    Allan.
     
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