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two George Priors

novicetimekeeper

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I have just bought a rather fine drop dial clock which is clearly very early for a drop dial, I guess around 1800/1805

It is signed George Prior London.

Now up till now I thought I knew who George Prior was, the chap who exported a lot of clocks and watches to the Ottoman Empire.

Now, though, it has been pointed out to me that there are two in the reference books, one from the 18thC who carried on till about 1812, one who came down from Leeds at the beginning of the 19th C and invented and patented escapement improvements and developed a market for his wares in the Ottoman Empire.

It seems very unlikely my clock was made by the second, but on the other hand the watches and clocks I've seen for the Ottoman Empire seem more likely to have come from the 18thC.

I wondered if any of you good folks have access to some work on this subject?

Here is the clock for reference


 
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novicetimekeeper

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seems the V&A disagree with the reference books, I don't know about patents but if the second one had a Turkish market it was off the back of the first one.

"George Prior (1735-1814) was the most significant clockmaker exporting clocks and watches to Turkey in the late 18th century. In order to supply an expanding trade he also retailed clocks made by other makers, adding his name to the clock faces. He exported thousands of watches, and a smaller number of lantern clocks and musical bracket clocks. Many clocks supplied by Prior and others were made and packaged ready for export by the firm 'Thwaites', whose name appears on the movement of this clock. John Thwaites, who had premises in Rosoman Row, Clerkenwell, took over from his father Ainsworth in about 1780"
 

John Matthews

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Nick - here are the Priors listed in my copy of Britten

1642895156978.png

I have no personal knowledge that I can add.

John
 

DeanT

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were those prior priors? :)
;) it doesn't appear he had any priors.

Did you check in Georgian Bracket clock book by Barder? It has a chapter on the export market.
 

Ralph

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How did this end up in European and other watches?

Ralph
 

novicetimekeeper

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How did this end up in European and other watches?

Ralph

Because this lot have a history of tracking particular makers and their output, and there were far more watches than clocks that were sent to the Ottoman market.

I have the same in my Britten which suggests that only the 2nd Prior was active in the Turkish market but that makes no sense given the dates of the products sent.

Will have a look in the Lantern book Dean, good idea.
 
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John Matthews

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Nick - I have done a little further research on George Prior(s) operating in London.

George I 1765 to 1812
Possibly b.06/03/1745 bap. 25/4/1745 St George Hanover Square, Westminster; son of George & Hannah​
1765-75: 31 Prescot Street​
1774-82: 3 Prescot Street​
1794: Rosomonds Row​
1798: 5 George Yard, Lombard Street​
1803 directory​
1642928309106.png
1806-12: 3 George Yard​
1808: 9 George Yard​
1642928351307.png
Some references claim he was succeeded by his son Edward ~1812​
1814 directory - listed as merchants?​
1642928512676.png
George II
Apprentice record:​
20/67 Prior, George app. William Sinderby, mas, watch maker Bethnal Green 19 March 1779, 7 years £5-5-0​
Likely born ~1760-65​
There is a suggestion that he may have been the son of Edward Prior also involved in the Turkish trade (see Britten), but no documented proof.​
George Prior, London was registered as a trademark by George Chambers, 18 Powell Street East - somewhat later ~1856-76​
John​
 
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gmorse

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Hi Nick,

Have you got Ian White's book on the Chinese market clocks? Alternatively, you could always ask him!

Regards,

Graham
 

novicetimekeeper

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will ask him next time I see him Graham.

Thank you John. I did wonder if the Priors were related but the George II seems to have come from up North.

The reference books do seem to have mistakenly attributed the Turkish market to George II when it was clear George I was the most significant exporter. I looked in Barder (it was bracket not Lantern my mistake) and he is quite clear about it. Also that there were so many that any English clock or watch might be called a Prior.

Seems my clock was definitely George I and he was the one I thought of originally. It may actually be a Thwaites, will only know when it turns up, that can take a while.
 

John Matthews

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George II seems to have come from up North
Nick I think the George listed in the Leeds 1822 directory is not the London George identified as an apprentice in Bethnal Green in the 1780s. He remained in Leeds - I question the history as described in Britten.

Leeds 1817

1642939768856.png

Leeds 1829

1642939660827.png

John
 

novicetimekeeper

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Nick I think the George listed in the Leeds 1822 directory is not the London George identified as an apprentice in Bethnal Green in the 1780s.

Leeds 1817

View attachment 691779

Leeds 1829

View attachment 691778

John
The patents and improvements were they in Yorkshire or London? If the bit about moving from Leeds is wrong then it would make more sense of the family.
 

VinSer

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Actually it appears there were three George Prior active in London in that period:

(a) The George Prior that exported to the Ottoman market, see a watch-paper from him here at the British Museum. Note that he was so famous in the Ottoman market that his watches were regularly falsified.

(b) The George Prior from Leeds that was as much an inventor as a watch maker, see watch-paper from him here at the British Museum; this George Prior moved for a period to London as in his patent dated 29 January 1818, it is explicitly written:

"Specification of the Patent granted to George Prior, late of Leeds, but now of Howard's Green, City Road, in the County of Middlesex; …"

The patent is about a remontoire and assigned to Gibbons (see here); I remember also to have seen a 3D here on NAWCC but I cannot find it back fast

(c) Then there is a George Prior active at Red Lion Street, see a watch-paper from him here at the British Museum (please scroll, it's the fifth photo).

Nothing else is known of this latter Prior; in my opinion Britten has conflagrated the Prior of Leeds and the Prior of Red Lion street.

And maybe Britten was not so wrong, as the master of and Gibbons himself for a period were working at Red Lion Street :rolleyes:

Ciao
 

Ralph

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There are at least 10 pages covering George Prior in Ian White’s book, English Clocks for the Eastern Markets.

I have to go shovel snow now. :(

Ralph
 

John Matthews

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I am not convinced that the the Leeds G Prior was involved in the Turkish trade. I found this ...

1642947339257.png

which places a George Prior in Howard's Green as early as 1807. Then this watchpaper carries the inscription GEO. PRIOR, Woodhouse Lane, LEEDS. (by the King's Royal letters patent: remontoire chronometers for ascertaining the longitude). The reference to the Gibbons chronometer is discussed here with the description from British museum, 'A patent, No 4214, taken out on 29 January, 1818, by George Prior, describes a remontoire working on exactly the same principle as that fitted in this chronometer. There is apparently no patent taken out in the name of Gibbons so it is assumed that George Prior took it out for him.' So for me there is possibly doubt as to who actually invented the remontoire and the link between the Leeds and Howard's Green address/individual is not clear to me.

I wonder if the G Prior of Red Lion Street in one of the other watch papers here might be the individual in the apprentice records.

John
 

novicetimekeeper

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I am not convinced that the the Leeds G Prior was involved in the Turkish trade. I found this ...

View attachment 691791

which places a George Prior in Howard's Green as early as 1807. Then this watchpaper carries the inscription GEO. PRIOR, Woodhouse Lane, LEEDS. (by the King's Royal letters patent: remontoire chronometers for ascertaining the longitude). The reference to the Gibbons chronometer is discussed here with the description from British museum, 'A patent, No 4214, taken out on 29 January, 1818, by George Prior, describes a remontoire working on exactly the same principle as that fitted in this chronometer. There is apparently no patent taken out in the name of Gibbons so it is assumed that George Prior took it out for him.' So for me there is possibly doubt as to who actually invented the remontoire and the link between the Leeds and Howard's Green address/individual is not clear to me.

I wonder if the G Prior of Red Lion Street in one of the other watch papers here might be the individual in the apprentice records.

John

That would make more sense really, the only way the Leeds one could get involved would be trading on the name and wasn't he contemporary with George's son?

It would make more sense if the Priors in the Turkish market were in the same family.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I think what this shows is that the books are not always right. I know I've found a number of errors and inconsistencies myself over the years. However we have to remember our reference books were almost all written before the authors had access to the internet, and involved huge amounts of study of other written records in various places. It is understandable that some of these crept in and were repeated. I would be rubbish at collating all this stuff I'm amazed at the work they put in.
 

VinSer

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Absolutely.

It could also simply be an editing error, where when composing the page for the print the reference to the Turkish market was moved one George Prior down. And then stayed there.

I mean the George Prior of Prescott Street was one of, if not the most famous English maker for the Ottoman market and Britten does not mention it?

Ciao
 

novicetimekeeper

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Absolutely.

It could also simply be an editing error, where when composing the page for the print the reference to the Turkish market was moved one George Prior down. And then stayed there.

I mean the George Prior of Prescott Street was one of, if not the most famous English maker for the Ottoman market and Britten does not mention it?

Ciao
We have the precedent of the alternative name for Density in Physics, the Dord. When preparing the dictionary for print a mistake was made reading a note from an expert contributor that said Density: D or d.

The Dord remained in print for some years I believe.
 
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Allan C. Purcell

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What people need to read Nick, is the book by Ian White. It is all quite clear and written Long after Britten. Geroge Prior´s working dates are 1765 to his death in 1818. ( B c1736) George had nine children, two of them became watchmakers the younger of the two was George who when working for Richard Lee in Smyrna died young in 1789. (He was trained to take over the Business) So his brother Edward took over the business after his father's death in 1818. So these are the Prior´s you need to look at. George seniors business was built not in London but in the bundhooks of southern Somerset England, it was only later he moved to London. There must be a copy of the book in the local library.

I still have the Barraud and Atkins, dial clock, it's a cracker, wonderful timekeeper.

R/

Allan.

PS: Nick the Turks called watches Piryol after Prior.
 
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John Matthews

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Nick

Thanks to a note from Enrico - there are two letters from Jan Kraminer in AH vol.18:03 (1989) and AH vol. 27:06 (2003) that provide watch serial numbers and dates.

John
 

novicetimekeeper

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What people need to read Nick, is the book by Ian White. It is all quite clear and written Long after Britten. Geroge Prior´s working dates are 1765 to his death in 1818. ( B c1736) George had nine children, two of them became watchmakers the younger of the two was George who when working for Richard Lee in Smyrna died young in 1789. (He was trained to take over the Business) So his brother Edward took over the business after his father's death in 1818. So these are the Prior´s you need to look at. George seniors business was built not in London but in the bundhooks of southern Somerset England, it was only later he moved to London. There must be a copy of the book in the local library.

I still have the Barraud and Atkins, dial clock, it's a cracker, wonderful timekeeper.

R/

Allan.

PS: Nick the Turks called watches Piryol after Prior.
We have a copy in our branch library,next time I see him I'll ask him.
 

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