Northern Section

To be held at Trinity Methodist Church, Trinity Road, Sale, Cheshire, M33 3ED at 7.30pm, unless otherwise stated

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Meetings - 2019

Horological Ephemera and Christmas Social meeting  (December 2019)
A festive buffet, drinks and Christmas cheer greeted members at the last meeting of our 50th anniversary year. A theme of horological ephemera brought in many items of interest, some of which are illustrated below.

December 19-1
Anonymous quarter and hour repeating pocket watch movement thought to be by Breguet which was bought by a member thirty years ago.
December 19-2
Following a request for information on watch number 3481, the Breguet company sent a copy of the original certificate of authenticity dated 7th July 1821, proving that a feeling that the watch movement was by Breguet was correct.
December 19-3a
Invoice dated 31 December 1906 from J. Winter of Stockport, retailer of watches, clocks and jewellery. It lists: one French clock costing 3 guineas; cleaning, repairing and replacing the glass of one watch for five shillings (25p); a silver cased scent bottle costing £1 five shillings (£1.25); chain repairs for one shilling and sixpence (7½p); and a silver manicure set in a case for thirteen shillings and six pence (67½p). In 1903, Jacob Winter installed a projecting turret clock with automata on the outside of his building. The dials, automata and bells are still in place - a glimpse of them can be had in the image on the top left hand side of the invoice (see inset). The clock movement remains in place on the first floor behind the dials. Winter’s closed down in the 1980s, was opened several years later as a bar and is now closed again.
December 19-4
Two bottles of Paul Ditisheim Oil have survived from a set of five. Each of the oils was of a different viscosity for use in lubricating different parts of precision watch and clock movements.
December 19-5
The information sheet accompanying the set of Paul Ditisheim oils.

Tools    (November 2019)
Devotees of tools, horological and otherwise would have been in their element at our November meeting when a huge variety of tools ancient and modern were displayed for discussion. Whilst some were familiar to many members, others were rare examples of watch and clockmakers’ tools. Gary Burns set the scene with a copy of the catalogue created by the Section in 1993 to accompany its exhibition of horological tools held at Prescot Museum, see below. (Click here to download the catalogue). Images of a very small sample of the items on display at the meeting are available below.

November 19-1
Some of the tools which were displayed at our November meeting. Most were for watch or clockmakers but amongst them were some which were clearly not of a horological nature, including a bull’s nose puncher complete with rings!
November 19-2
Exhibition catalogue for an exhibition entitled Tools of the Trade which was organised by the Section and held at Prescot Museum. (Click image to download catalogue)
November 19-3
A mid nineteenth century watchmaker’s micrometer by Moritz Grossmann of Glashütte which showed measurements in hundredths of a millimetre or thousands of an English inch.

The True Origins of the Wristwatch (October 2019)
David Boettcher took us on a myth-busting mission to prove that the first wristwatches were not cobbled together from fob watches with wire lugs attached. Watches worn on the wrist had been seen for centuries as items of female attire. Men remained cautious even when purpose made wristwatches with wire lugs to attach a leather wristlet started to appear around 1900 - the market for these was limited to ladies and military or sporting men. It was WWl which changed opinions. A wristwatch with luminous dial was an essential item in every officer’s kit. Huge demand for them caused shortages of supply which led to some open face fob watches being converted to wristwatches at this time, but the layout of the dial was wrong. Soldiers home on leave wearing wristwatches soon changed the view that a wristwatch was something that a man didn’t wear.

October 19-1
1901 Advertisement for wristlet watches by Borgzinner Brothers Ltd, Clerkenwell, London from the Watchmaker, Jeweller & Silversmith
October 19-2
Knowledge for War was first published in 1889. The edition David showed us was dated 1916
October 19-3
Page 177 of Knowledge for War. The Luminous wristwatch was first item on the Officer’s Kit list for the Front
October 19-4
Benson’s luminous ‘Active Service’ Watch with luminous dial. This advertisement featured on page ix of Knowledge for War

50th Anniversary celebrations (September 2019)
To celebrate the Northern Section’s 50th Anniversary, 26 members and guests gathered at Lyme Park on 25th September for a full day of horology.  After refreshments, a talk was given by Duncan Greig on the unnumbered Tompion marquetry longcase.which has recently been added to the display in the Clock Room at Lyme Hall.

After lunch, Jonathan Betts spoke on the lengthy process he undertook to create his book, Marine Chronometers at Greenwich. A catalogue of Marine Chronometers at the National Maritime Museum, Creenwich. This tome has been meticulously produced to provide every detail horologists could ever require on this subject.

James Nye followed with a dramatisation of his researches into the history of clockmaker and gardener Edmund Howard of Chelsea. This is fully recorded in his article in Antiquarian Horology (Vol 38, Issue 4, December 2017, pages 513-532).

A brief outline of the Section’s history was followed by a celebratory dinner ; thanks were offered to Lyme’s staff who had looked after us so well and Chairman Gary Burns thanked members past and present for their contributions and support during the Section's first 50 years.

September 19-4
AHS Northern Section members, guests and speakers with Amy Carney, House & Collections Manager at Lyme Hall.

Clocks without Wheels    (September 2019)
A light hearted evening was spent viewing and discussing a variety of timekeeping devices without wheels. They represented a very long timeline, from the earliest devices using shadows and celestial objects to the latest ubiquitous electronics. Three items from the display can be viewed below.

September 19-1
This octagonal brass pocket sundial and compass is signed on the reverse, Johan Schrettegger, Augsburg. The gnomon and hour ring fold away for easy transportation. Its age is unknown.
September 19-2
A wooden nocturnal designed to determine local time based on the relative positions of two or more stars was also displayed. It had feint markings for months of the year and hours and half hours but would have been difficult to read at night because of its dark colour.
September 19-3
A Time Machine which uses rolling balls to tell the time. This can be powered by battery or run off the mains. It shows seconds in the display at the back, minutes and up to twelve hours. The mechanism makes clicking and clattering sounds as one or more balls roll every minute which would not aid restful sleep!

Understanding the success of American clocks in the British market from 1842 – 1880  (August 2019)
Our speaker for the August meeting was American clock enthusiast John Taylor. His talk was highly informative and was accompanied by excellent illustrations and a display of many of the clocks mentioned in his talk. John outlined the key factors in the success of American clocks in this country, including their variety, design, value for money and the American ‘modern’ approach to marketing. This included their frequently issued illustrated catalogues which exhibited their ranges aimed at an emerging, untapped working class market. John summarised all the styles of movement and case design by putting them into a detailed chronology.

August 19-1
July 1842 - the American clock story in Britain begins with Chauncey Jerome's first export shipment containing his own weight-driven, Ogee and Empire Column clocks
August 19-2
& Brewster & Ingrahams, brass spring, Beehive & Steeple clocks.
August 19-3
The beautiful JC Brown 'prototype', compound arm, 'Acorn' clock of circa 1846
August 19-4
The Americans knew that spring fusee clocks were popular in Britain; but surely putting a fusee on the alarm, as well as the time and strike, is overkill (Chauncey Boardman triple fusee Steeple clock of 1847)

Inventor and Mechanic Edward Massey’s contributions to Navigation    (July 2019)

Andrew King outlined some of the problems still faced by mariners navigating the oceans at the end of the eighteenth century. He then explained how a watchmaker and his descendants changed navigation practices in innovative ways.

Watchmaker Edward Massey successfully focused his skill and ingenuity on this subject – six of the fourteen Massey inventions filed at the Patent Office were for navigation instruments. Some of the themes developed were by no means new; the lead and line used as far back as Ancient Egypt was improved in Massey’s patent sounding machine. It enabled depths to be measured without requiring the vessel to be stationary and had two counters which locked as the machine touched the seabed. Likewise Massey took another old idea –the ship’s log which is known to have been used in Tudor times for distance and speed calculations. The Massey patented design had three dials which measured and recorded distance as it was towed through the water.

Sadly, for inexplicable reasons, Edward Massey struggled to attract the size of orders from the Admiralty his inventions deserved. Their production was continued by his descendants, who made further improvements until well into the twentieth century.

The Untold Story of British Jerome (June 2019)
Peter Gosnell spoke on the history of British Jerome clocks. These were imported in large numbers into Liverpool from New Haven, Connecticut from the mid nineteenth century for about one hundred years. Research has uncovered that by 1908 J.C. Plimpton of Liverpool had become sole agents in England, initially importing American manufactured movements to install into their own cases. Soon Plimpton began to make modifications to some components to suit English tastes. Labels on these clocks described them as ‘British Jerome Movements’. After WWl, trademark ‘Plimclox’ clocks which had patented components styled specially for the UK market were manufactured and sold here until 1932.

June 19-1
The ‘Boxclock’ had a British Jerome movements label; the backplate was stamped ‘Trade Mark’ and ‘British Manufacture’ despite having been made in America.
June 19-2
Tambour cased clock with British Jerome movements label. It has patent fixing bushes, New Haven escapement and a Plimpton bob.
June 19-3
Shelf clock with British Jerome movement label, horse-shoe pendulum post extension, double ended pillars and a New Haven type fly.
June 19-4
A Plimclox movement. The Plimclox trademark was registered on 2 October 1926. It was made for the British market with solid plates, mainspring in a barrel, and deadbeat pallets.

Tailor-made watches        (May 2019)
Rebecca Struthers described how art and science are at the heart of the business she and her husband run from the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. Having experience of jewellery making and design as well as horology, the couple design watches based around redundant wrist and pocket watches scrapped by the bullion trade. New watch parts and case components are increasingly made in-house, but a large number of highly skiled artisans, many located nearby are called upon as required. The latest project is to design and make their own watch movement using traditional and high-tech methods.

May 19-1
A recommissioned free-sprung E.F. Ashley movement with custom Breguet shock setting, the photograph is by Jonny Wilson.
May 19-2
The Carter pocket watch - a bespoke commission around the E.F. Ashley movement made c. 1880/1890 with handmade silver and rose gold case. Photo also Jonny Wilson.
May 19-3
The Struthers Kullberg wristwatch is built around a recommissioned high-grade power reserve movement by Victor Kullberg originally made in around 1880. Both movements have been salvaged from the bullion industry.

The Restoration of a George Pyke Organ Clock   (April 2019)
John Harrold gave a talk on his experience of restoring an organ clock with automata by George Pyke which was handed over to him in a disassembled state. The clock, with royal provenance, had been through the wars and had subsequently suffered an unsympathetic overhaul. Inappropriate materials and techniques had to be removed before the long process of identifying and restoring components began. John told us there were five similar clocks by this maker in the UK, but all were inaccessible to him for reference. A friend in Utrecht enabled John to study and photograph a Pyke clock there which enabled work to begin. Restoration and reassembly presented a series of complex challenges.

April 19-5
April 19-6

French Clocks and Watches             (March 2019)
A large number of items, mostly clocks were shown during the March meeting. The oldest was a Louis XIV ormolu table clock which had required substantial restoration by its owner. There were many different styles of Victorian mantel and table clock, two rare types of twentieth century torsion clocks and some electrically powered clocks, two complete with original batteries. We also saw the dial and movement of a wall time recorder by Lambert of Seine-Maritime and two barometer-thermometer-clock compendiums, one of which was retailed locally in Stockport. The only watch shown was a handsome subscription watch by Abraham-Louis Breguet.

March 19-1
Two train French clock with enamel dial housed in a Gothic style oak case c. 1890. The photograph right, shows the clock as it was 130 years ago in its Victorian home. Gas lighting is just visible top left.
March 19-2
Dial and movement of ‘Enregistreurs Lambert’ a time recorder by Lambert of Seine-Maritime.
March 19-3
Small clock by ATO with its original battery (not to scale), retailed by J.Vivien, Monte Carlo.

Bring & Discuss:    Letters U & V      (February 2019)
Members brought horological items linked to letters U or V to our February meeting.
Items included pocket watches by Victor Kullberg and BL Vulliamy, and a collection of thirteen verge pocket watches by different makers from several countries. A wristwatch made in the former USSR was bought for 1 million rubles thirty or so years ago. We were shown a deck watch by Ulysse Nardin, a marine chronometer from the USSR and two aircraft clocks from the same source. Domestic clocks were represented by two ‘unidentical twin’  table clocks by the same maker and a Becker ‘Vienna regulator’ dial and movement.

February 19-1
Watch by Victor Kullberg, signed and retailed by Alexander Bruce of Manchester. This 1869 gold pocket watch has an up and down dial below Xll to indicate the amount of wind left on the barrel.
February 19-2
Wristwatch made in The First Moscow Watch Factory (TFMWF) during the days of the USSR.
February 19-3
A TFMWF copy of a Swiss aircraft dashboard clock with subsidiary seconds stopwatch and a dial which recorded journey length.
February 19-4
A marine chronometer from the former USSR made at TFMWF. This post war model was still in production in the early 21st century.

AGM and short video presentations (January 2019)

Members gathered at the beginning of the meeting for the AGM. Once formalities were completed, several interesting short videos were shown.
1.     John C. Taylor’s Masterworks film featuring Salomon Coster’s Box Clock of 1657.
2.     Also from John C. Taylor, ‘Creating the Chronophage’.
3.    The Napoleon Clock at the Museum Speelklok in Utrecht, Netherlands
4.    Glashütte Original Watches.
5.    Another film from Glashütte, entitled ‘Tradition and Innovation’.