WE marked pocket watch .. trying to find date of manufacture.

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by Domi, Apr 2, 2017.

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  1. Domi

    Domi New Member

    Apr 1, 2017
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    Hi, firstly apologise if I'm in the wrong area to ask this question but having recently reawakened my interest in vintage watches and dusting off my collection I was delighted to come on this site which has already informed me about this particular watch. When I was first interested in watches this venue (i.e. The internet!!!) was not available!! Now thanks to the people on here I know this watch is from a sponsor named William Ehrhardt, case is sterling silver, from Birmingham England and made by a DJ Marcuson. I can't however pinpoint the date, I suspect from what I've gathered on View attachment 338739 View attachment 338740 View attachment 338741 here that it might be connected some way to WW II or from that period at least. It has "M" marked on inside of case, though at first I thought it was a portcullis! Also the serial number is 137761. Thanks a lot in advance to anyone who can enlighten me on the date.Domi.
     
  2. JTD

    JTD Registered User
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    Welcome to the board.

    I am not an expert on watches, but there are plenty here who are. However, I can tell you that your watch is a lot earlier than WW2, I would estimate 1880-90, but, again, others will know more surely.

    The hall marks on the case are rather odd - no town mark. The letter mark looks to be that of Chester 1875 but no Chester town mark.

    I am assuming that your reference to William Ehrhardt is based on the indistinct stamp on the case (looks more like W.F, but possible a badly stamped E).

    Anyway, soon there will be the watch experts along to help but these are just my initial thoughts.

    JTD
     
  3. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    Do any of the other sections of the case have a complete set of marks?
     
  4. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Domi, and welcome,

    There should be a complete set of marks, including a town mark for the Assay Office, inside the outer lid. If it is Chester, (three sheaves of corn and a sword), that "m" stands for 1875, but the sponsor's mark "W.E" is most likely to be for William Ehrhardt at The Time Works, Barr Street, Hockley, Birmingham, who made both cases and movements, and would have used the Birmingham Assay Office, (an anchor). In which case, the Birmingham date letter "m" in this style is for 1886. The Assay Office mark will decide which when we see it.

    The name of Marcuson engraved on the top plate is for the retailer, who would have ordered the watch from Ehrhardt complete with case and engraved with whatever they wished. That serial number doesn't represent the number of watches sold by the retailer, it's much more likely to be an Ehrhardt job number. If the movement was made by Ehrhardt there should be a punched mark of a winged arrow on the pillar plate under the dial.

    PS, you are in the right place!

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  5. JTD

    JTD Registered User
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    The background cartouche (shield) is the wrong shape for London. I am fairly sure it is a Chester M, but there should be other marks as well.

    JTD
     
  6. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    The shapes of all the cartouches except the sponsors' may vary quite legitimately from those in the hallmark reference books, but the sponsor's mark has to appear exactly as in the Assay Office registers. Sometimes it's the only way to differentiate two makers with the same initials.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  7. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    William Ehrhardt's mark 'W.E' incuse is only listed for Birmingham in Priestley - it may well be Birmingham 1896 rather than Chester.

    John
     
  8. stewey

    stewey Registered User

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    Why is the outer edge of the dial divided into 300 gradations?
     
  9. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    It's definitely an "m" for 1886 not a "w" for 1896. Good point about the Birmingham registration.

    Stewey, the watch has a sweep seconds hand which could act as a sort of stopwatch by sliding the piece in the band between II and III; this stopped the whole train, so it isn't a true chronograph.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  10. stewey

    stewey Registered User

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    Thanks, Graham...Interesting.
     
  11. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    Graham - you are correct, my mistake. I misused Bradbury. By 1896 Ehrhardt's Birmingham mark was in an oval cameo/cartouche. The Birmingham incuse mark was from 14/11/1867 to 22/12 1880.

    John
     
  12. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    #13 gmorse, Apr 2, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
    Hi John,

    I think we still have a problem; the incuse version of the mark is indeed listed in Birmingham between 1867 and 1880, after which it changes to an oval cartouche, but this date letter in Birmingham is for 1886. Another possibility is that the mark is not "W.E" but "W.F"; however there isn't a "W.F" incuse in any office in this date range, (ditto for "W.B" and "W.R"), and the only "W.E" incuse belongs to Ehrhardt.

    We must wait for the picture of the complete hallmarks.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  13. Domi

    Domi New Member

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    Hi everyone, thanks a million for the replies all very interesting. Sorry if my pics are not clear I hope these new ones are better and i suppose i should have put one up of the back of the watch. This is the first pic I'm adding here. Also a pic to show there are actually two cases to the back of this watch. The "WE" does look more like a "WF" here but i've got out the magnifying glass and i can just make out the line that should complete the F to make it an E! so i'm pretty sure its WE on both cases...finally all i can say to help is that the cartouche just under the lion to the left to me it looks like an anchor, at first i thought it was a flower of some kind but having seen other on here and comparing i'm pretty sure its an anchor though again not 100% on that..thanks again everyone, your insights into this are very interesting even if we never manage to definitively date it.
    Regards, Domi.
    View attachment 338845 View attachment 338842 View attachment 338843 View attachment 338844
     
  14. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Domi,

    Thanks for posting these pictures, just what we needed! The Birmingham Assay Office mark is quite clear, so is the "m" for 1886, and the sponsor's mark is certainly "W.E" for William Ehrhardt. The discrepancy in dates noted earlier may be due to an error in recording or transcription; even Priestley, (the standard reference book for watch case hallmarks), isn't infallible!

    The inner back is known as a "cuvette" if it hinges (or snaps) open like this, and a "dome" if it's fixed, as it would be in many earlier English watches. These double backs were an attempt to keep some of the dust out of the movement, which was really a forlorn hope!

    The watch does appear to be a little battered, with a missing pillar screw, no bow on the pendant, a few hairline cracks in the dial, (pretty common), and replacement hour and minute hands, but the long, fragile seconds hand is still there. It's not a good idea to run the watch very much as it clearly hasn't been cleaned or serviced for some time, and old oil and dirt can make an effective grinding paste.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  15. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    #16 John Matthews, Apr 2, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
    I found the first hallmark on the back of a Ehrhardt cased example from 1886 and I have the same mark on an 1887 example. So despite a different maker's mark apparently being registered in 1880, it appears that there was an overlap of use of the earlier mark. The second example is of the 1880 mark on a 1888 case. The alternative, more likely explanation, is that Priestley recorded the registration date as 1880 rather than 1888 - as implied by Graham

    John
     
  16. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    Thanks for posting these two examples, I think this answers Domi's questions pretty conclusively.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  17. MartyR

    MartyR Super Moderator
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    Great piece of detective work, John :clap:

    It does reinforce the point that Graham often makes - we should never treat any of our basic reference sources as infallible. We need to look at the watch as a whole, and when our common sense and out eyes tell us one thing, and the basic sources tell us another, then the former must hold sway!

    On the wider subject of makers' marks, I have found numerous examples of a particular maker's mark being registered only in one city, but being used in another - for example a mark registered only in London being used on a case assayed in Chester. This may be just an omission in Priestley, or a vagary of Chester records, but I have always assumed that any assay office was willing to accept a maker's mark registered in another office.
     
  18. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    Martin - Yes, I agree that it is not uncommon to find maker's marks recorded by Priestley for one office, being used in another. Your assumption 'that any assay office was willing to accept a maker's mark registered in another office.' for me, challenges my (our?) understanding of the exact process of assaying watch cases: specifically, who applied maker's marks and when. During the C19th, at least, I believe that the maker's punches had to be registered at the individual assay office and an impression recorded. Indeed Priestley describes the records for Chester on lead and copper plates in some detail.

    The question for which I have never found a definitive answer, is 'who actually made the impression on the watch cases and when was it done?' While it is possible that all of the marks were applied at the assay office if they held all the maker's punches, to me, it seems more likely that the maker's marks would be applied by the maker, before submission to the assay office. This would provide a simple explanation for what is commonly observed regarding marks apparently registered at one office being used elsewhere. I assume that the office and date stamps etc. have always been applied at the assay office, but if the makers did sometimes apply their marks, I suppose it is equally possible that they could have been applied after assay, although to me this seems less likely.

    Previously, I researched the significance of German & Swiss hallmarking and the associated practices (http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?138553) and found the conclusions challenged commonly held beliefs. I would very much like to better understand the official and the actual process in the UK and whether it varied between offices, over time and possibly from maker to maker. If a definitive reference exists - please let me know.

    John
     
  19. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    I think Philip Priestley would be a good person to ask about this line of research.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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