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Well finally an “Arnold Chas. Frodsham”, movement; I hope?

Omexa

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Hi, I finally got an “Arnold Chas. Frodsham”, movement; usually they are too pricy for me but this one has a broken Balance, so I snuck in and got it for not too much money. I know that these are “Prestige” movements and are very popular with collectors. I am not sure about the Dial which is different to the inscription on the movement but has the same serial number. I presume the AD, Fmsz, is code for the date of manufacture. Arnold Chas. Frodsham? Can someone please explain the connection? By the way, since I retired pocket Watches have become a full time hobby and taking more of my time than when I was in the work force. Regards Ray
 

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MartyR

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Ray, everything is fine about the movement except the condition :(

J R Arnold (son of the great John Arnold) died in 1843 and Charles Frodsham (who had then been in business for 10 years) bought Arnold's business. He immediately changed his firm's name to Arnold Frodsham to take advantage of the wonderful reputation of the Arnolds. By 1858 Charles Frodsham had developed his own reputation to the point where he no longer needed the help of Arnold's name and he dropped it.

The Frodsham ADfmsz was one of their higher grade watches, and the cypher represents the year 1850 when he started making these. So your watch "dates" between 1850 and 1857. I guess that this watch was made by Charles Frodsham prior to 1843 and remained (uncased) in stock until 1857, at which time the ADfmsz was engraved on the movement and the Arnold added to the dial - I can't explain the lack of Arnold engraved on the movement any other way. I have seen quite a few Arnold Frodshams with this apparent mismatch between dial and movement. According to Mercer the serial number 9566 was made around 1857.

Frodshams are typically cased in unusually heavy gauge and very high quality 18K gold cases and so it is likely that some vandal has scrapped the case. As a Frodsham collector I should tell you that if you got it for "not too much money" then you may have overpaid for it. I detect zero market for unoriginal uncased Frodshams in poor condition. Sorry :(
 

Tom McIntyre

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I think the movement may be a bit more valuable than Marty does. It does have a bad scratch on the edge of the plate, but it looks like it is all there and appears to be a 19J movement with caps on the pallet arbor and escape wheel. That was a popular configuration. It should clean up and be respectable.

None of the mid 19th century English sn's make much sense to me. Sometimes I think they just randomized them for the hell of it. There is a much more exhaustive book by Steger on the Arnold/Dent/Frodsham chronology. I am not sure even all that data is sufficient for understanding. If you match known example serial numbers and hall marks, it is still effectively random to about a 10 year error band.
 

Omexa

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Hi, thank you Martin and Tom, I am very glad that it is a real “Arnold Chas. Frodsham”, movement; I thought that at US59.25 it was cheap. Regards Ray
 

MartyR

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I think the movement may be a bit more valuable than Marty does.
My point was, Tom, that in the UK I find almost no-one who collects naked Frodsham movements, and those few who do seem only to collect exceptional or complicated movements, and then only in at least "very good" condition.

... and I suspect you're right about those serial numbers, with the possible exception of Barraud who seem to have been relatively disciplined :)

Ray said:
Hi Martin, any chance of some photos of your nicer “Arnold Chas. Frodsham”, Pocket Watches?
Well I have five AF's and I'll look out a couple of the nicer ones to post ... with apologies to those who have already seen them ;)
 

MartyR

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The first one is very close to your serial number, but it is not an ADfmsz. It dates to 1858 (from hallmark), and the movement is a typical Nicole Nielsen patented winding mechanism. The dial needs some restoration (maybe) and it has that randomly introduced feature of the offset seconds dial (which semed to be a quite popular variation in the mid-19thC.

This one has the full "Arnold Chas Frodsham" signature on the movement, and the standard dial signature the same as yours.

To put my previous comment about the probable fate of the case of your watch, this half-hunter case (by Adolph Nicole) would scrap today at £1350 ($2160)!
 

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MartyR

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This one is easily my favourite Frodsham dial :) As you can see it's a full chronograph and calendar, and I think it's beautifully understated and elegant.

Interestingly, this one has the "full" movement signature as before, but this one lacks the "Arnold" addition to the dial. My belief is that Frodsham painted "Arnold" on to existing Frodsham dials, and they must have missed this one :excited: or maybe they couldn't find enough room on this particular dial. This watch dates to 1872 and is an ADfmsz grade.
 

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MartyR

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And finally, this one is a further variation in signatures. The dial is signed only Arnold and the movement J R Arnold Cha Frodsham.

This dates to 1851 and the consular case is by James Martin. Now Frodsham seems to have used mainly three casemakers, and James Martin wasn't one of them, and I suspect that this watch was actually made by J R Arnold himself and bought as stock by Frodsham; it would then have been lying around uncased for eight years before Frodsham had it cased, but because it's an oddball watch in Frodsham terms he may have used a maker who was previously used by Arnold. That's largely guesswork, but there seem to be many instances of Arnold stock remaining uncased for several years.

The case is beautifully made, but sadly the dial has had a mishap as you can see and a couple of chatons have gone missing ...
 

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Omexa

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Absolutely fantastic Martin, unfortunately my pocket does not run to Solid Gold Cases. While I do not compare myself to "Colonel G.E. Townsend", I am more interested in the movements from a mechanical point of view. I also purchased a "John Harrison", movement from the same seller, but I am not sure if it is real or not. Regards Ray
 

Tom McIntyre

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There were many John Harrisons. The famous one did not really make watches.

Here are some more Arnold and Frodsham examples. Note both watches have the same street address. The Arnold is Prest's keyless with a setting square.

Chamberlain was not really a watch collector in the normal sense of the word. He collected knowledge and the movements are perfectly adequate for that purpose. You need enough cased examples to learn what casing was about. However, such collections, no matter how complete never have substantial monetary value.
 

MartyR

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Ray, there is a John Harrison of Liverpool recorded in Loomes, working dates 1818-54, who seems a likely candidate. This is a fairly common name so there is no reason to assume he was related to "Mr Longitude" but it is possible ....

Tom, it looks like you only collect up/down Frodshams :)

I've never seen the Charles Frodsham signature shown on your first movement, which is more florid than the ones I have seen. What date is the watch?

And what is interesting about the J R Arnold signature is that it seems to me it has been placed carefully on the movement so as to allow a PL signature to be added!

Again I'm interested in the date. Was this made when Prest worked for Arnold or for Arnold when Prest had set up his own business? I have a signed Prest dated 1846.
 

gmorse

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Hi Ray,

I really appreciate all the fine watches that your postings are giving rise to. You seem to be moving into the final golden age of English watchmaking from your earlier verge adventures!

Regards,

Graham
 

Tom McIntyre

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Ray, there is a John Harrison of Liverpool recorded in Loomes, working dates 1818-54, who seems a likely candidate. This is a fairly common name so there is no reason to assume he was related to "Mr Longitude" but it is possible ....

Tom, it looks like you only collect up/down Frodshams :)

I've never seen the Charles Frodsham signature shown on your first movement, which is more florid than the ones I have seen. What date is the watch?

And what is interesting about the J R Arnold signature is that it seems to me it has been placed carefully on the movement so as to allow a PL signature to be added!

Again I'm interested in the date. Was this made when Prest worked for Arnold or for Arnold when Prest had set up his own business? I have a signed Prest dated 1846.
Here is what I wrote about the watch back when I bought it.
After Charles Frodsham purchased the Arnold business from J. R. Arnold's estate he marked his watches "Arnold Charles Frodsham" for a period of time up until he came out with his new ebauche in 1850. For the next 15 to 20 years all higher grade 3/4 plate watches bore the date code AD Fmsz. The code is formed by the sequence of the letters in Frodsham with a Z added to get the digit value 0.

This watch has the date code and the serial number 03879. There is also a hallmark in the case for the year 1870. This is not the highest grade produced since some examples were also free sprung in addition to the up/down indicator. It is jeweled to the center with cap jewels on the escape wheel and pallet arbor. This makes it either 20 or 21 jewels, which is unusual for English watches of this period.
The J.R. movement looks quite late to me and I have dated it to the period after his break up with Dent. Arnold and Dent signed quite a few Prest keyless work watches. I do not think Prest made them all since it was pretty simple stuff to do. The earliest Prest keyless watches have no aid for setting the hands. The later more delicate ones have hand setting squares.
 

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