Verge Fusee History

David D'Apice

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Mar 22, 2012
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I was lucky to get this early Verge Fusee -- which is small --- it's signed "Thos Blithe London" --- try as I may, I haven't found Mr. Blithe anywhere in literature --- I was hoping the hallmarks on the case might help date this watch --- alas, it is in need of a 38mm high dome crystal to make it complete, and what might appear to be a mainspring. If anyone has info on Mr. Blithe or the date of it, I'd be thrilled to hear of it. Thanks as always. Dave

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rstl99

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Loomes has "Blithe, James", London, c. 1760. The photos look like a watch from that general era. The hallmarks should help you date it fairly accurately, not sure they are clear enough on your photo. Look here: London Date Letters

Just had a look, your hallmarks point to 1763, which is in line with Loomes (way to go Brian!).

The silversmith (SP) are likely Sarey Price, or Southern Payne, who plied their trade in that era.
 
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novicetimekeeper

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That lace edge decoration was only about for ten years or so and I think it straddled 1760 from memory. There was a Robert Blythe in London in that period, I have not found a Thomas.
 

gmorse

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Hi Dave,

The date letter in the inner case, (do you also have its outer case?), is for London 1765/6, and the case maker is probably Southern Payne at 17 Bridgewater Square, who was first registered on 8th May 1775; this is according to Priestley and the discrepancy in dates is why I said 'probably'. This precise maker's mark, (now known as the sponsor's mark), is only listed in the London register on three occasions, in 1775 and again in 1784 for Payne, and once in 1805, for Samuel Pike, so it does seem most probable that it is by Payne; dates in registers are occasionally mis-recorded or transcribed, and there's no doubt about the date letter or the assay office.

The dial and movement support this date and the small size of the plates are quite typical of the period, as is the 'lace-edge' decoration on the edge of the balance cock table. I think the minute hand is a replacement since it doesn't quite match the dial dimensions, and there's the usual assortment of visible screws on the top plate. I don't believe this quite qualifies as an 'early verge' since this escapement was being used in watches from the very beginning of wearable timepieces in the 16th century, but it's still survived for more than 250 years in reasonable condition it would seem.

Mainsprings and crystals are replaceable and indeed most other problems that can occur are fixable.

Regards,

Graham
 

gmorse

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Hi Robert,

I read this date letter as a 'k' rather than an 'h', but either way, the recorded dates for Payne don't quite match up, which is a slight worry; Priestley doesn't have a London entry for Price. I seem to recall finding a similar discrepancy for Southern Payne some time ago.

Since the signature on the top plate is almost always for the retailer, the actual makers will remain anonymous in all likelihood.

Regards,

Graham
 

rstl99

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Hi Graham,
Yes, could be a "h" or a "k" I suppose, either way it's in the similar ballpark (cricket ground :) age-wise, give or take a couple of years.
I just used the silversmith information on the site I listed above, which may or may not be as or more accurate than Priestley.
Anyway, David has been provided some very good information on his watch, and should be pleased.
--Robert
 

David D'Apice

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Mar 22, 2012
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Hi --- I too think it's a k --- that would seem to put the case at about 1765 according to the hallmarks on the website -- I know that the piece has been here in Massachusetts for a number of generations, and has a Newburyport repair paper in the case from Joseph Roberts. Not finding much on Mr. Roberts either -- the outer case seems to be brass with file marks -- some of it silver? -- with pinhole decorations. To everyone in the conversation -- thank you for your incredible brain power. These watches are like time travel. From what my little knowledge tells me, everything is there -- I don't see any missing teeth, etc. The chain is there as well -- if the spring loss was of low impact, I have good chance of getting this to run and I'm excited about the prospect. Also, thanks for educating me about "early" vs. regular verge.
 

John Matthews

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Graham/David

Given that in the hand David has confirmed 'k' for 1765/66 - Priestley records the maker's mark of Southern Payne as being present on cases hallmarked London 1759, 1762, 1763 and 1767 in Appendix G, page 81 of his second book Early Watch Case Makers (1631-1720).

John
 
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David D'Apice

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I just found this photo from an old NAWCC post --- looks like the same hallmarks to me (except the letter)

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gmorse

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Hi David,

I think this is the same maker, I can see a similar flaw in the 'P' due to a damaged punch. It's interesting that the entry in appendix G shows the registry entry for 1775 as 'Missing'.

This early case makers book of Philip Priestley's is not easy to come by, as I believe it's now out of print, but there's a new book being published soon posthumously which is said to contain a consolidation of all Philip's research up to the time of his death earlier this year.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Matthews

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appendix G shows the registry entry for 1775 as 'Missing'.
Graham I believe you interpreting the entry incorrectly - it is not implying that the registration of 1875 is missing. The two lines refer to the fact that there is a 'Missing' registration followed by the recorded one subsequently in 1775 - if the missing registration had been after the recorded one, 'Missing' would be on the line below the recorded date. This explanation conforms to similar entries in the Appendix.

John
 

Allan C. Purcell

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I had a quick look through "The Clock and Watch Makers American Advertiser" looking for your mister Roberts watchmaker of Newburyport-but sorry to say he is not there. These advertisements go from 1707 to 1800. So the watch paper proves he did advertise his business, but after 1800-so you can look from there. Best Allan.
 

gmorse

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Hi John,

Thanks, I was not reading it correctly. I'm sure we all await the publication of Philip's consolidated researches with great interest.

Regards,

Graham
 

Allan C. Purcell

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David I could put these photographs anywhere on the board, but seeing has you are at the moment all talking about hallmarks this information might help not olny you but others who are interested. It is taken from a small booklet published by the AHS and was compiled by D.S. Moore and P.T. Priestley in 1997.

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David D'Apice

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Really great information here -- for which I am grateful. I noticed tonite that the fusee chain is broken --- missing the hook that goes into the barrel -- I'm puzzled by the next plan of action, but having fun learning! Otherwise, the movement seems in great shape ---- crown wheel flying around with little pressure. The pins in the plate pillars are nearly flush and well in there so I've been patiently working to no avail on getting them out. Wish there were a trick for that!
 

Tom McIntyre

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There is a strong effort under way to publish The Evolution of the English Watch Case in time for our Annual Meeting in the Columbia PA area at the York PA fairgrounds in July. I am not sure about the title but that is what I have been calling it. It may only be the title of the first chapter.

This is his description of the mark reference sources
To assist the reader, the entries have been cross-referenced
to the standard works of Culme, Grimwade,
Jackson, Loomes and Ridgway/Priestley (see Bibliography).
 

gmorse

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Hi David,

...I noticed tonite that the fusee chain is broken --- missing the hook that goes into the barrel -- I'm puzzled by the next plan of action, but having fun learning! Otherwise, the movement seems in great shape ---- crown wheel flying around with little pressure. The pins in the plate pillars are nearly flush and well in there so I've been patiently working to no avail on getting them out. Wish there were a trick for that!
Before you go ahead and and put a new barrel hook on the chain, (it has a small barb, unlike the hook on the fusee end), please make sure that the chain is long enough to leave at least 1/4 of a turn on the barrel when fully wound; you can check this with a length of thread wrapped around the fusee. If the chain is too short it risks breakage when the chain is stretched tight before the fusee stop work has a chance to kick in.

When the pillar pins are very short like this it certainly is hard to get them out without marking the plate or the pillar tops. If you haven't a suitable punch you'll have to make one. You may have to very carefully trim them back flush to get the plate off and then you have more scope to either punch them out or if really stuck in there, drill them. At least none of the pillar tops is broken as far as I can see.

Regards,

Graham
 

David D'Apice

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Mar 22, 2012
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Graham -- thanks for the advice --- I'm getting there with the disassembly -- I will have to trim back a pin or two, but it is looking good. Other than the broken chain, I believe all would be well so far from what I can see. I noticed that some chains have a simple hook, and on the other end, it looks more like a hook with a spike on its back. I'm doing my homework as I go. Wish I had better eyes and steadier hands!
 

gmorse

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Hi David,

...and on the other end, it looks more like a hook with a spike on its back...
Yes, that's the barrel end. The spike is there to keep the hook properly engaged in the barrel wall. The fusee end engages with the pin in the slot and is that shape so that it can swivel out when fully unwound.

Regards,

Graham
 

David D'Apice

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Mar 22, 2012
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Thanks for the insight Graham. The entire movement is apart -- I will push out the pins by making a punch in the lathe next. In the meanwhile, I'll try your thread idea to gauge the right length --- the chain that is there seems to be about 167mm long and fills the fusee when wound round it, so it can't be too short. could be just the hook is gone. All pinions, even the balance wheel ones, appear intact and fluid. So far, so good!
 

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