Tompion watch movement - Info please

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by harrylincs76, Jul 14, 2018.

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  1. harrylincs76

    harrylincs76 New Member

    Jul 14, 2018
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    Hi,
    Just joined the forum seeking information about this Tompion watch movement. Personally i am not a collector or know anything about it, It belonged to a family member and was given to me along other pocket watches and spare parts. Obviously the name of Tompion was easy to find and i understand back in his day he was an excellent watchmaker. It says T Tompion London and has a number, its difficult to read the first digit but it could read 4112. Apologies for the quality of the pics as it was hard to focus with my phone. Any information would appreciated

    Harry

    IMG-5832.JPG IMG-5835.JPG IMG-5837.JPG IMG-5841.JPG
     
  2. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Harry, and welcome to the Forum,

    This does appear to be an English verge fusee movement from the very beginning of the 18th century, so it's the right period for Thomas Tompion who was working in London from around 1670 until his death in 1713. It has characteristic engraving and piercing, together with the correct pillars. He's regarded as the 'Father of English Watchmaking', and although there were great craftsmen before him, he did raise the craft of watch and clock making to new heights.

    Now, whether this is by him, (or his workshop; he didn't do everything himself!), is hard to say without some research and also better pictures. He was one of the first makers to put serial numbers on his work, and the known examples are very well documented, so that serial number does need to be clarified, because in common with other great makers at the time, (and indeed later), his signature was used on pieces which he did not make.

    Whatever you do, don't attempt to dismantle this in any way, as it appears to be fully wound, and needs to be looked at by someone experienced with these early watches.

    If it is by Tompion, you have an important watch, even without a case, which would probably have been gold.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  3. harrylincs76

    harrylincs76 New Member

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    Hi Graham and thanks for the info and the quick reply, i wish i could get some better pics but it has a hard time focusing in. I will see about getting someone in the know to take a look too and thanks again for your help.

    IMG-5843.JPG IMG-5845.JPG FullSizeRender.jpg
     
  4. Omexa

    Omexa Registered User
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    Hi, here is my Rich Street who was an associate-apprentice of Tompion; he is reputed to have made some repeaters for Tompion et al. Regards Ray

    1a.jpg
     
  5. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Harry,

    Thanks for the additional pictures. The dial and hands are much later replacements from the late 18th century; it would have had a silver or gold champlevé dial with 'beetle & poker' hands originally. If you need any help in finding someone local to you to look at this, please check the BHI website here.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  6. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    Hi Harry,
    Graham gave you some excellent insights and very sound advice about your inherited watch.

    Interesting how these old watches fall into unsuspecting hands. But this provides you with an excellent opportunity to learn about this and other watches your relative indirectly placed in your care. These objects obviously meant a lot to your relative, so hopefully you will treat them with a similar degree of care and respect.

    A similar watch movement by Tompion, in partnership with another watchmaker named Edward Banger (from around 1701-1708), recently sold on ebay, so this will give you an idea of the importance of your watch, and the kind of value that it has for some collectors.

    Verge Watch Movement by Thomas Tompion and Edward Banger | eBay

    Regards
    --Robert
     
  7. Lychnobius

    Lychnobius Registered User

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    From about 1790 to 1820 there was a craze for very large watches, and many earlier movements (too good to discard) were fitted with oversize dials, mounted on a plate (called a 'brass edge') which projected well beyond the perimeter of the original front plate. Here, however, the dial seems not to have been enlarged, and this suggests that it dates from about 1780. If it were much earlier than this, the minute track would be larger and the figures would be given at five-minute rather than fifteen-minute intervals.

    Oliver Mundy.
     
  8. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    Hello Oliver.
    Perhaps Harry got the information he needed and has moved on.
    Anyway, if he's still around, perhaps he'll find your dating of the replacement dial on his watch useful.
    Makes me wonder why someone would have replaced the distinguished original metal dial on this watch. Of course today one is scandalized at someone back then chucking the original dial for a vitreous enamel one, but I suppose that someone may have just wanted to make the "clunky old fashioned 100 year old watch" look "newer"...
    Interesting that the "craze for very large watches", that we've seen come again a few years ago, has happened in the past.
    I have also read that the use of greater diameter balance wheels in the late 18th century, to improve timekeeping, was also a cause for larger movements and watches.
    Interesting to try to piece together the history of changes to a venerable watch after its creation.
    --Robert
     
  9. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Robert,

    Yes, I'm sure that modernising to the current style was partly the reason, and the other was that the champlevé dials were always made of silver or gold, which would have gone towards the cost of the new, fashionably larger, cases. It happened quite often to really good watches; I've seen it done to a Mudge & Dutton and a Leroux amongst others.

    Brass edges would have been fitted from new, whatever the style of dial, but they did offer a convenient way to increase the size of the dial without major surgery to the pillar plate.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  10. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    Hi Graham,
    Yes, how could I forget? Indeed, any piece made of silver or gold was fair game for stripping off and selling! Unfortunate, as I find those ancient champlevé dials very distinguished and attractive. Changing times...
    As we know, brass edges were also used to allow the watch movement to be used in what I believe is called a "coach watch". I've also seen verge-fusee watch movements installed in small French clocks, mounted at the center of a large round brass plate, possibly as creative replacements to worn out original movements.
    Lot of creative uses for those tough reliable little verge watch movements. :)
    Cheers.
    --Robert
     
  11. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    I have to admit, that when I first looked at Harry´s Tompion above, that it could well be original. (It still could be)? Though there are a couple of points I have come across that make me ask a few questions, since I have read through "Thomas Tompion 300 Years" We all know Mr. Evens has spent a life time searching for Tompion watches, and my first question is could he have missed this one-for it is not listed.(I would have thought the last owner would have tried to identify his little treasure) Tompion is a name we would all like to own, but most of us never see one outside a museum. If I had that movement I would have sent photographs to Mr. Evens.

    On page 290 of Thomas Tompion 300 Years we have No.3714 signed Tho. Tompion Edw. Banger c.1704/5 and below this No. 4081 signed T. Tompion E. Banger c. 1707. only 31 watches away from Harry´s 4112. On page 291 there is also a watch signed T. Tompion No. 4304 some 223 watches later. Tompion took Edward Banger into partnership in 1701 and this partnership ended in 1707/8, there is no definitive date for this break-up.Though when looking at the lists in the book on Tompion watches the lists give 4119 as the last watch signed TT/EW. To be fair though the watch is also listed with a gold pair-case HM London 23.07.1709. (Could have been cased later)? So 4112 should realy be signed Tompion & Banger? I am still reading through the book and maybe there will be more, if so I will let you know. for now I will leave you with the photographs. (there are none of 4119). Best wishes, Allan.

    IMG_6148.JPG IMG_6146.JPG These two page 290

    IMG_6147.JPG IMG_6150.JPG These page 291


    IMG_6151.JPG This is the top part of page 291,
     
  12. zedric

    zedric Registered User

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    Assuming that 4119 is the last Tompion/Banger watch, there is no reason to suppose that 4112 is false simply because it doesn’t have the Banger name. Things were not completely sequential, and there is clear evidence that some items sat in stock for quite a while before selling. I would more be looking to check that the movement has the characteristics of a watch by Tompion made around this time than getting hung up on names.

    With regard to if a previous owner had tried to identify it, not everyone is curious, or knows who to ask.. Obviously it would be easier if the watch were I the book, and if it is not there is much greater due diligence to do, but neither the serial number nor the lack of provenance are killers.
     
  13. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    I agree with you Zedric-I did say at the start it could still be original-though I think the questions I asked are valid, its just a pitty Harry seems to have got his answers, do you think he would mind if the photographs were sent to Mr. Evens.? Allan.
     
  14. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    #14 rstl99, Sep 1, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
    Yes Harry got what he needed from this forum. We'll probably see this Tompion movement appear on Sotheby's or Christie's auction site in the near future ;) Still, it was nice to get a glimpse of it here, and it's still surprising that some of these things come up from unsuspecting sources. Harry's "family member" obviously knew what it was. Reminds me of so many of those "Antiques Roadshow" moments... "it's worth HOW much?? No, never..."
     
  15. harrylincs76

    harrylincs76 New Member

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    Hi Allan,
    Apologies for it being a while since i last checked this thread, I haven't yet got my answers about the Tompian. I took the watch to a guy here in Lincoln who is a Fellow of the British Horological Institute, he was very intrigued and said although everything looked right in 40 years he had never had one in his shop and therefore couldn't say for sure if it was original or not. He advised me to seek the help of somebody who has handled Tompians and know what they are looking for.
    So i'm no further along in my search really. The information you have provided is very interesting so thanks for taking the time to post that up. Also i have no objection at all to the photographs being sent to Mr Evens, pity the photos aren't that great but will maybe try take some better ones and post those on here. Thanks again Allan, and everyone else for the help and i will be sure to check in here again.

    Harry
     
  16. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Thank you Harry for the kind words-and I have too say welcome back to the board. What is pleaseing me is the fact you are taking your time, and took the trouble to go to someone with knowledge on the subject. Given the chance, I would take those photographs and put them in the post to Mr. Evens.The book I spoke about Thomas Tompion 300 Years was sponsored by the people below,and I have sent you their details. It will cost you nothing if you send them an email with a photograph of your watch-I think they would be very pleased to here from you. Good luck Harry, and please lets us know how you get on Best wishes, Allan.


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  17. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Harry,

    I suggest that you contact Laura Turner, Paul Buck or Oliver Cooke at the British Museum. They're the Curators, Horological Collections, and they or one of the staff will respond to your queries. Their contact details are on the BM's website.

    Very few of us, even those exalted persons with the distinction of putting FBHI after their names, have ever handled a genuine Tompion watch.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  18. Tom McIntyre

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    You could also make an appointment with one of the docents at the BM and take the watch there for examination and analysis.

    When I did that with my Graham many years ago, Jeremy Evans was the docent who showed up to help me with it. I was also interested in watches by J. F. Cole at that time and he showed me several of those from the study collection. It was my first great introduction to the hospitality of the British Museum.
     
  19. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Tom,

    Yes, whilst they're always busy, they never neglect any enquiries, and apart from the current denizens of the Students' Room, the previous Curator, David Thompson, is still available to them for opinions even though he's now officially retired.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  20. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    #20 Allan C. Purcell, Oct 9, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
    Hi Tom and Graham-I think you your good intentions for Harry´s watch are well meant-but I am sorry to say things have changed at the BM. Paul Buck is no longer there, Laura Turner and Olvier Cook are still there.They do have some help from volunteers, but you can imagine the requests they receive. To start the watch must be sent to the museum-for at least six months, they will not give an oppinion on photographs.There is of course the other method-make an appointment, and take the watch along-what happens then I am unable to say, it could be the quick OK-or very nice but we will have to take a good look at it-please come an collect it in six months time.I am sorry if this sound negative-its just the way things are at the BM at this time.Another way is to ask David and others to read this thread-that could lead to other insentives Best Allan.
     
  21. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    I myself had a good email experience earlier this year with Laura and Oliver at the BM, who eventually responded to my query about my Edward East watch movement. They are very busy because they lost a staff member some time back and the workload has not reduced. I was thankful to have Oliver spend some time looking at photos of my East and give me a quick opinion and some thoughts on it. He's keenly interested in the work of Mr. East, and also had a quick look at the thread I had created here on my East watch, with disassembly and inspection photos, and keen insights provided by many members of this august forum.

    We are planning a long overdue return trip to the UK in the spring and I hope to finally visit the BM in London, and will try to say hi to Oliver or Laura when I'm there. Good people, but they are very busy, so it can take a while for them to get back to you. Their coordinates are on the BM site, write them a nice email with good pictures, and you will eventually hear back from them, and probably find out a bit more about the origins and technical aspects of your prized watch.

    --Robert
     
  22. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi Harry, I hope this finds you in good health, and looking forward to telling us how you got on. Tomorrow is the 18th of October, yes another year as gone by, and anothe watch like yours is now going through the mincer.

    Really best wishes,

    Allan
     

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