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Signature "George Priest, Norwich", is this a better known maker or rather a retailer?

Bernhard J.

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Hi,

I have this watch since about 3,5 decades and still enjoy it very much, because I regard it as a very high quality example of English watchmaking in the mid 19th century, despite the "average" appearance. Upon close look one detects quarterscrews on the balance and capstones for the lever and the escape wheel. The case is hallmarked for 1846.

Does anyone know more about George Priest (I actually know nothing except that every once and a while movements/watches with this signature appear)?

I would never give it away, not only because it is one of my very first English watches bought, but because I rarely see lever watches of this era with such high "specifications".

Cheers, Bernhard

1.jpg 7.jpg 6.jpg
 

gmorse

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Hi Bernhard,

Loomes has George Priest at Briggs Lane, Norwich, born 1796(?), working 1830-73, former partner of James Bennett also in Norwich. This doesn't clarify his status in the trade and makes no mention of any apprenticeship, and I can't find his name in the list of CC apprentices, which isn't surprising as he was in Norwich. I think it's most likely that he was a retailer, with a business model that probably involved servicing and repairing watches, in common with many provincial jewellery businesses.

The watch appears to have started life in Liverpool and possibly ended up being finished in London, maybe via Coventry, and is certainly a better quality piece. Screwed plates in the 1840s would not have been common, and neither were rim caps. The hour and minute hands may not be original but I think the beautiful seconds hand is, and the dial looks quite pristine.

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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James Bennet of Norwich (b.1760) a.1773 to Peter Amyot of Briggs Lane Norwich, q.v. Free 1781, partner with Amyot from 1790-9
then with George priest, 1822, q.v. and James William Elliot, q.v. from 1822-d.1845. I tell you this because Bennet was a political animal. and went on
to be High Sherriff of Norwich in 1826, so I would say he needed a partner to carry out his political aims. High Sheriffs are not often seen behind a counter or have dirty hands. :cool: The case makers of your watch were Henry Webb & Joseph Webb. 5 Skinner Street Clerkenwell.
 
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Bernhard J.

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Hi Allan,

Many thanks for this interesting background info.

I generally tend to wash my hands also (not only in innocence) before assembling movements :D

Cheers, Bernhard
 

John Matthews

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I think this movement is a Lancashire frame with a runner train that was worked on principally in Coventry, the London case may be evidence of final finishing in London. I think it is fair to say that rim caps were never as common as the full caps. The earliest I found after a quick search was 1829 on a Cope duplex and I have records of unfinished Prescot frames with rim caps and no train from ~1850. The rim cap was almost certainly fitted to the frame in Lancashire early in the life of the movement.

As to Priest - I can find no trade entries of a partnership with James Bennett in the directories I have. George Priest working in Briggs Street is listed in 1836, 1839, 1850 & 1854. In all of them he is listed as a watchmaker and not under jewellers or silversmiths. As Graham suggested retailing and repairing watches principal activities. From Allan's dates it appears that the partnership with Bennett was for a very short period at the beginning of his career as an 'unregistered apprentice' perhaps.

John
 
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gmorse

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Hi John,
I think it is fair to say that rim caps were never as common as the full caps. The earliest I found after a quick search was 1829 on a Cope duplex and I have records of unfinished Prescot frames with rim caps and no train from ~1850.
I have a Massey V with a rim cap in an 1825/6 (original) silver case.

Regards,

Graham
 
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gmorse

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Hi John,
I can find no trade entries of a partnership with James Bennett in the directories I have. George Priest working in Briggs Street is listed in 1836, 1839, 1850 & 1854. In all of them he is listed as a watchmaker and not under jewellers or silversmiths.
I have no idea where the Loomes (21st Century Edition) information and dates came from. In my Britten's 9th ed. both Priest and Bennett are simply listed in Bugg's Lane [sic] with no mention of any connection between them.

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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You are quite right about Britten, Graham, Baillie just says he was in partnership with Amyot, though these people were writing before we were born, I should hope that research over the years as moved on. It´s that old saying "Live and Learn" I am quite sure that Brian Loomes would not have entered the information if he was not sure of his source. All you need to do is ask him.

Hi Allan, (2016)

This is interesting, as I have a watch also hallmarked for 1825 with marked similarities to this, although it isn't an English lever, but, a Massey V. The Pennington type of screwed balance has been thought by some to be a later conversion in mine, (I'm pretty sure that it isn't), but your watch lends more credibility to its originality.
DSCF3613.jpg
Which Loseby is your maker?
Regards,

Graham.

Shame about these old threads, some of the photographs and information were lost, and now cannot be found. The answer to your question was Loseby senior. his son was not born till 1817.

Regards,

Allan.
 

Dr. Jon

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Temperature compensated English levers originating from before 1850 are very rare, especially with bimetallic cut balances. Nothing average about these.
 
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John Matthews

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Jon - I would not describe pre-1850 English levers with cut bimetallic balances as very rare.

A number of the better English finishers migrated from using Pennington balances in the 1820's to using them from the 1830's, especially those with duplex escapements. Barraud second series >2/2000; #2/2472 is one example of a lever known to me (~1830). Pennington lever #1036, Arnold & Dent duplex #4855 (1835), Barwise duplex 10/129, Barrauds & Lund lever #2/3241(1837), Vulliamy lever (~1835) .... So I would say early 1830s very rare, pre-1845 rare, but by 1850s I would say that they were the balance of choice for the better finishers.

John
 

John Matthews

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my Britten's 9th ed. both Priest and Bennett are simply listed in Bugg's Lane [sic] with no mention of any connection between them
Graham my 1990 reprint of the 9th has

Amyot & Bennet 1793 Norwich, Briggs La; issued bk by J Bennett on management of a watch (Bri)
Bennett J 1786 Bugg La Norwich watch (Bri)
Priest 1796 Norwich Bugg La watch (Bri)
Priest, George 1796-1854 Norwich watch (Clu)

Denis Moore
58/153 Amyot, Peter mas John Bennett app watchmaker, Norwich 23 July 1773 7 yrs £40
71/152 Bennett James mas, John Johnson app clockmaker, Norwich 26 Mar 1804 7 yrs from 25 Mar 1804, £30

No mention of George Priest in the apprentice records.

John
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Jon,
If you remember the thread in 2016, I did some research for you on compensated balance wheels, because you thought they were rare before 1830.

I think the search proved that. Not to forget that by then the English were importing Swiss compensated balances.

a10 (2).jpg This is the watch that went missing (among others) in the early single table rollers thread. We were then talking about ring dust caps for Graham. The patent is for a Massey I.
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Just to round things off, here is the 1825 Loseby with a very early compensation balance, STR escapement. Full hunter case, and nearly

200 years old, and still keeping good time. (Though it was serviced a couple of years ago by Karl-Heinz Pappenbrook).

Regards,

Allan.

666-49.JPG 666-50.JPG
 
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Jon - I would not describe pre-1850 English levers with cut bimetallic balances as very rare.

A number of the better English finishers migrated from using Pennington balances in the 1820's to using them from the 1830's, especially those with duplex escapements. Barraud second series >2/2000; #2/2472 is one example of a lever known to me (~1830). Pennington lever #1036, Arnold & Dent duplex #4855 (1835), Barwise duplex 10/129, Barrauds & Lund lever #2/3241(1837), Vulliamy lever (~1835) .... So I would say early 1830s very rare, pre-1845 rare, but by 1850s I would say that they were the balance of choice for the better finishers.

John
Arnold 4855 (year 1835)

20210610_182232.jpg

John Cross year 1831

20201213_112226 (1).jpg
 

Allan C. Purcell

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Priest George. Norwich.
Loomes b.1790. baillie records a watch by this maker and gives his dates as 1796, Brigg´s Street (should read LANE) 1830(P), 1845 (W) & 1858 (K), 1863 (HN). George Priest and James Ellicot went into partnership with James Bennett in 1822. A nice Watchpaper in the collection of David Penney reads PRIEST late partner with J. BENNETT, A watchmaker, Brigg´s Lane, Norwich. Around the paper. To make the watch go faster, turn the regulator the same way you set forward the Hand, to go slower turn it the contrary and the following charming little poem (which has also been noted on other w/ps, e.g. J. Bennett, Edward Russell).

Could but our Tempers move like this Machine

Not urg´d by Passion nor delay´d by Spleen
And true to Nature´s Regulating Power
By Virtuous acts distinguish every hour
Then Health and Joy would Follow as they ought
The Laws of Motion and the Laws of Thought
Sweet Health to pass the Present moments o ér
And Everlasting Joy when Time shall be no more.

All this and more can be found in Norfolk & Norwich Clocks & Clockmakers, by Clifford & Yvonne Bird. The 1996 Copy.

666-52.JPG
The tip for this information came from Mr Brian Loomes, who at the moment is very ill.

I think we all owe him a great amount for his marvellous works, and we send him our best wishes.

Allan.
 
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sternerp

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Hi Bernhard!

I have also one George Priest pocket watch, and this piece is also very good quality and unique watch. In the year 2017, I uploaded pictures here from this watch.
But now for some reason, you can't see them. I upload these again;-)
My movements balance bridge underside showed on this monogram: WN. Maybe this is the frame maker?
John Matthews's earlier post has one database from the English frame makers. I searched these marks, and I found one hit for this: Naylor, William (chron) Prescot
Perhaps my pictures and the new information will also help decipher who Georg Priest was working with.

IMG_20170607_122412.jpg IMG_20170607_122433.jpg IMG_20170607_122420.jpg IMG_20170607_122511.jpg IMG_20170607_122828.jpg IMG_20170607_082100.jpg IMG_20170607_080845.jpg IMG_20170607_080833.jpg
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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Hello Sternerp, That is a very interesting watch you have there, though to start with it is quite clear that after his short partnership with Ellicot and Bennett, he worked alone. Though I think it is clear also that he had very good contacts with the finishers in London. Do you still have the watch? If so I think members would like to see the Lever fork and the hallmarks inside the case. Thanks for posting this, I wish I had seen it in 2017, but I was new to the board then. I wonder if John Matthews has done an update on his File, English Movement /frame makers.?

Thanks again

Allan.
 

John Matthews

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Sternerp - what are the hallmarks on the case?

Betts has suggested that the mark WM may have been that of William Naylor, found on the cock foot of a one day marine chronometer ~1822.

I now use photographic databases embedded in Lightroom, so I'm afraid I cannot post a copy. Also, I don't own the copyright to the majority of the photographs it contains.

John

EDIT I missed the escapement until Graham's post that follows. I would add that all 12 other examples I have recorded, have had London signatures. Barraud features prominently, also French and Barwise, Earliest I have recorded is Barwise ~1819, the French is 1860s, but most 1820s & 1830s.
 
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gmorse

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Hi Peter,

I have a Massey V watch with this William Naylor mark under the cock foot, and I've seen the same mark on a Matthew Dutton.

That's an interesting trapezoidal impulse jewel, rather wide but not a Savage.

Regards,

Graham
 
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sternerp

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Hi Allan, Graham and John!
Thank you very much for your answer! I make newpictures from the case hallmarks also. This watch is very big, case diameter is 58.5 mm, and 168 grams weighs. The dial diameter is 52 mm. Tomorrow i will make photos from the escapement.

1642690495713.jpg 1642690256277.jpg 1642690256267.jpg
 

John Matthews

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Peter,

Thanks for the additional photographs. London 1826/27 case by Horace GOOCH of 23 Coppice Row, Clerkenwell. So London finished right in the period when these rare escapements were being made.

Certainly worth restoration a rare movement.

John
 

sternerp

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Hi John!

Thanks that you identifying the year of manufacture and the case maker. Unfortunately, I can not make a better picture from the escapement.

pic1.jpg pic2.jpg
 

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Allan C. Purcell

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Hi Sternerp, That is all we need. It's a single table roller, though others will tell you more. A very nice and rare example.

Well Done,

Allan
 

John Matthews

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Peter I have been able to enhance the exaggerated shape of the lever fork a little

1642763498439.png

I have also sent you a PM with a further example. You may also like to read this.

Graham - is the action that results from the combination of the exaggerated fork shape and the dovetail jewel, in any way different from the standard single roller? I ask because they are described as being particularly good timekeepers. I appreciate that this may because of the overall quality of the finishing, but wondered if here might be some feature of the action that contributed.

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,
is the action that results from the combination of the exaggerated fork shape and the dovetail jewel, in any way different from the standard single roller? I ask because they are described as being particularly good timekeepers. I appreciate that this may because of the overall quality of the finishing, but wondered if here might be some feature of the action that contributed.
Although these were usually only fitted to high quality watches because of their complexity and cost to make, I don't think there's any real advantage and possibly even a disadvantage in their geometry when compared to the action of the narrow single impulse pin in the more common levers. They don't work in the same way as the Savage but are sometimes confused with it and they were ultimately a dead-end, as was the Savage, unfortunately.

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi John,
Can you please explain?
I'll try! To reduce the 'natural escapement error' in detached levers, (see the Technical chapter in 'Watches' by Clutton & Daniels, and the Richard Good article in HJ Vol 135 no. 12), the unlocking should take place as close to the line of centres as possible, so the lever fork should be as wide as possible, but for the equally desirable state that the impulse should also occur close to the centre line, the fork should be narrow. Since in the 'conventional' single table roller both these functions are provided by the impulse pin in the roller and the lever fork, (leaving aside any considerations of the safety action), there is an inevitable compromise to be made.

The Savage escapement separated the unlocking and impulse functions, with two pins in the roller providing unlocking, and the single pin in the lever providing the impulse via the narrow square roller notch. Thus both functions could be reconciled without compromise.

If a wide impulse pin is used in an otherwise conventional lever escapement the unlocking will be close to the line of centres but the impulse will be further away, which tends to increase the escapement error. Their use may have been prompted in part by their makers not fully understanding what they saw in the Savage, or there may have been an element of innovation for its own sake, but whatever its cause, the reasoning behind it was unfortunately flawed, hence my remark in my previous post.

Regards,

Graham
 
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John Matthews

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Graham - thank you for the explanation. I may be about to show my lack of understanding of the basics.

I do not understand why the lever fork has to be as wide as possible to enable the unlocking to be as close to the line of centres as possible. Unlocking requires the lever to be free to move. It becomes free to move only when the guard pin enters the passing crescent and the impulse pin or jewel enters the lever fork. The width and shape of the fork is in part dependent on the width of the passing crescent and the shape of jewel. For unlocking to occur as close to the centres as possible, depends upon a combination of the control exerted of the lever movement by its interaction with the roller, and how that movement is translated into the motion of the pallets relative to the escape. It seems to me that the influence of the width of the fork, is a factor which is dependent on other characteristics of the geometry and is a facilitating function, rather than a controlling one. Is my understanding flawed?

John
 

Dr. Jon

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The roller jewel looks like a Hutton patent version of the Savage. The roller notch is wrong for this but perhaps this watch design was influenced by Hutton's "Patent Lever Chronometer".
 

gmorse

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Hi Jon,
The roller jewel looks like a Hutton patent version of the Savage.
Yes, but really only in its effective width. The Hutton roller, (as illustrated in the Richard Good article), also has the wide jewel but in that case it is acting to unlock and is hardly involved with impulse at all. Some implementations of the Hutton have the lower part of the roller which carries the notch made of an entire disc of ruby, with the unlocking projection made from a separate ruby.

Screenshot 2022-01-21 190344.jpg

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi John,
I do not understand why the lever fork has to be as wide as possible to enable the unlocking to be as close to the line of centres as possible. Unlocking requires the lever to be free to move. It becomes free to move only when the guard pin enters the passing crescent and the impulse pin or jewel enters the lever fork. The width and shape of the fork is in part dependent on the width of the passing crescent and the shape of jewel. For unlocking to occur as close to the centres as possible, depends upon a combination of the control exerted of the lever movement by its interaction with the roller, and how that movement is translated into the motion of the pallets relative to the escape. It seems to me that the influence of the width of the fork, is a factor which is dependent on other characteristics of the geometry and is a facilitating function, rather than a controlling one.
Certainly the fork has to fit the impulse pin(s). The lever is free to move only when it's unlocked by the impulse jewel moving the lever and hence the pallet off the tooth on which its locked and allowing that tooth to engage the same pallet's impulse plane. If the escapement is correctly designed and made, the safety pin or dart should not contact the roller at any stage; the passing crescent plays no part in the unlocking. When the lever is unlocked, it goes from being driven by the balance to driving it, as the opposite side of the fork contacts the impulse pin and delivers the impulse.

The balance action should be considered in terms of adding to and subtracting from the energy of the balance. The combination of a balance and its spring will have a period of vibration dependent on the rate of exhaustion of its energy; it can't stop and reverse to start its travel in the opposite direction until it's used all its kinetic energy, allowing the potential (stored) energy in the spring to reverse it. Changes in the energy of the balance will affect its frequency; the unlocking will subtract energy and slow that half-arc if it occurs before the line of centres, (a losing rate) whereas subtraction after the line of centres will speed the second half-arc, (a gaining rate).

Energy applied to the balance by the impulse before the line of centres means that half-arc is speeded up, while if it's after the line of centres the second half-arc is slowed. The ideal is for unlocking to occur on the line of centres, but the practicalities of the lever geometry mean that the unlocking (a loss) and some of the impulse (a gain) will happen before the line of centres, and the larger part of the impulse after it (a loss), resulting in the natural escapement error being a net loss. In short, a reduction of the extent of each half-arc will result in a gaining rate whereas an increase will result in a losing rate. Those two-pin levers which aren't the Savage pattern will tend to reduce the unlocking loss but the loss due to the impulse will still be present.

Regards,

Graham
 
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