Saturday, 29 October 2011

Watch No. 7629 - a slight diversion - second instalment

I have been doing a little research relating to the following question raised in Watch No. 7629 - a slight diversion - first instalment.

I have found an announcement in The Glasgow Herald - May 14 1852 offering to Watchmakers, Silversmiths and Others the Lease of the Shop at 32 Nethergate, Dundee, lately occupied by the deceased Mr William Henderson, together with Stock, Shop Fittings and the Goodwill of the Business.

I also found an announcement in The Edinburg Gazette - May 28 1895 relating to the Estate of James Rattray, Watchmaker and Jeweller, 32 Nethergate, Dundee, deceased.

Rattray & Co (Jewellers) Ltd 1862-1968 stock books, notebook, scrapbook are in a collection held privately but listed in the National Register of Archives. I have made an enquiry about whether these records include any papers taken over from William Henderson. Because of the date range I doubt it but I expect to get a response from the NRA in about 3 weeks.

I have also been studying Dundee Directories and Dundee Post Office Directories which are downloadable from the Internet Archive or the National Library of Scotland, having been digitised by Dundee Public Library. My research is detailed here and a brief summary follows:
  • William Henderson, watchmaker, only appears in the 1850 Directory when he appears at 32 Nethergate and also advertises.
  • William Henderson, flaxmaker, is not the same person as William Henderson, watchmaker because the flaxmaker was buried on 15th March 1847 having died from Chronic Bronchitis.
  • I assume that (but will search for burial records to verify) William Henderson, watchmaker, is not the same person as:
    • Henderson, William, shipmaster. Church Street, Wallace Feus
    • Henderson, William, tailor, Neave's Land, West Port
  • 32 Nethergate was listed in the Directories as occupied by:
    • Cameron, J., perfumer, in 1842/43.
    • Gibb, Robert, ready-made linen warehouse, hosier, &c., in 1844/45.
    • Gilruth, Alex., hardware and toy merchant in 1846/47.
    • Henderson, William, watchmaker and jeweller in 1850.
    • Wilson, James, lace and muslin warehouse in 1853/54.
    • Wilson, Mrs James, ladies' outfitter in 1856/57.
    • Wilson, Mrs Jane, ladies' outfitter in 1858/59.
    • Anderson, W. M., watchmaker and jeweller in 1861/62.
    • Rattray, James,watchmaker and jeweller in 1866/67. 
  • Wm. M. Anderson was at 33 High St. in 1858/59.
  • James Rattray moved premise several times; being at:
    • 44 High St. in 1853/54.
    • 33 High St. in 1856/57.
    • 102 Nethergate in 1858/59 and 1861/62.
    • 28 Nethergate in 1864/65.
    • 32 Nethergate in 1866/67.
    • Rattray & Company (Jewellers) Ltd was dissolved on 15th July 2005 but is still listed in some web directories at 32-36 Nethergate.
Also of some interest:

Drawings by the Dundee lithographer Charles S. Lawson (d. 1884) of Nethergate as it was before the Improvement Act of 1871.

3 drawings of St Mary's Close (which is at 30 Nethergate), listed as William Henderson's home in the 1850 Dundee Directory:

and part of an 1857-58 Ordnance Survey map showing 32 Nethergate and St Mary's Close:

I have searched for as burial record for William Henderson, watchmaker, so far without success.

This glimpse into commercial history has been quite fascinating. The Directories will, I am sure, occupy many more interesting hours; the Advertisements, alone, are a joy to read.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Watch Nos. 7284, 8024 and one other in past auctions

I have discovered the following Kover pocket watches by searching past auctions at

This is the first time I have seen the name Kover associated with a forename (John) or an initial (I)!

Lot 425: Fickur i skyddsboett, sk oxöga, silver med

Fickur i skyddsboett, sk oxöga, silver med emaljerad urtavla, verk sign Kover London 8025, emaljdef, sprint sakn
Hallands Auktionsverk: Sweden
Auction Date: 2008

Lot 146: An English silver pair-cased pocket watch by I Kover of London, the case hallmarked for London 1742. The movement has rectangular baluster

An English silver pair-cased pocket watch by I Kover of London, the case hallmarked for London 1742. The movement has rectangular baluster pillars and an ornately pierced and engraved back cock. The white enamel dial has Arabic numerals and replaced hands and the outer case measures 1.75in diam overall.
Tring Market Auctions: United Kingdom
Auction Date: 2005

Lot 249: Kover, John. London. No 7284 Watch movement. Circa 1740 Good quality verge movement. Pierced cock foot. Early white enamel dial (hair cracks). 40 mm

Kover, John. London. No 7284 Watch movement. Circa 1740 Good quality verge movement. Pierced cock foot. Early white enamel dial (hair cracks). 40 mm diam. E85.00 Lacking minute hand. Contrate pivot broken, chain detached.
Charles Allix & Associates: United Kingdom
Auction Date: 1996

Friday, 21 October 2011

Watch No. 8346 - reference

I found this very detailed and informative reference to Watch No. 8346 after much Google searching.

The pdf includes 10 photographs including the one above.

The document is in Spanish; a Google Translate translation to English follows (I studied Spanish for one year at school but I am unable to significantly improve on Google's attempt. If any readers are able to provide improvements please let me have them, In particular I am foxed by the work Galluza which Google translates to Galluzo).

I have contacted the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague who have said "unfortunately, there are no any watches with a signature of Kover in the collections of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague." Perhaps I have misunderstood the reference.

I now seek a copy of the 1980 edition of the book "El Arte de la Relojería". If any reader has a copy, would it be possible, please, to send me an electronic copy of the photograph on Page 192. 

I am going to research the artists Augustin Heckel, G. M. Moser and John Valentine Haidt and will post anything I find of significance.


The prodigious machines (pages 87-91)

Vª. Part

Catalog Pocket watches and antique equipment.

This chapter takes a comprehensive review of the evolution of pocket watches at the time of consolidation and development as a measurement of time by the general public as well as its machinery, which covers the centuries in which the pocket watch began to change from being a purely decorative item, available to very few, to become an object of use and massive employment needs.

To this end, studied and cataloged a series of boxes, machinery, trends and fashions as well as the trajectory of their authors over the centuries of splendor - XVIII, XIX and XX - the country eminently watch producers appeared during these three centuries.

Clock No. 1.

Gold pocket watch

BUILDER: Kover (LONDON). Manufacturing No. 8346

DATE OF MANUFACTURE. According punches, London, 1727

CASE: Independent Double box. Georgian or constructed in time of George II, who reigned between the years 1724 and 1760. The outer box with gold embossed with mythological scenes. Sphere matte gold and figures of hours and minutes in "Champlève" high relief. The enclosure, or pocket watch case as a shell, is typical of this era, and usually is made of gold, silver or gold foil. During the eighteenth century was decorated by embossing system with mythological themes, religious or secular. Normally the watchmaker in charge this work to specialized goldsmiths produced those delicious scenes.

The inner box is usually smooth, without any adornment and has linked the area to the back cover of this second inner box through a hinge generally located at the height of the figure XII, and with an opening mechanism beneath the figure VI of the sphere. The pendant, which is subject to the inner box to match the figure XII, is elongated like all the time, and ends with a flat ring attached to it. This flat ring-shaped, appears on 1700 and is parallel to the plane of the clock.

SPHERE. The sphere is made of metal, particularly gold with matte, black Roman numerals in relief, separated from each other by a space, bounded on top by a bow. Take over these arches, the black separation in minutes above these, on the inside of a circle, the numbering of the minutes by fives for using Arabic numerals. The signature of the manufacturer is included in the "cartouche" central pivot located above the needles behind, and below this, the city where it was manufactured. The ring has numbers in high relief, the curve between each number, forming an arch, which is not normal in the areas of English this time, but rather in inland areas. The needles are of the "bectle and poker" or "beetle and poker" black steel. It has no second hand.

MACHINERY. Full plate gilt brass, with Galluzo decorated with masks. The Galluzo is one foot, is pierced with designs and located on the wheel, and is subject to the plate by a screw blued. The mask is classic watches of this era. The two plates are separated by columns and beautifully turned very characteristic of English watchmaking, while the watches made in France or Switzerland, these columns are usually smooth. The English take many forms, such as type or tulip baluster form, or the manner of Egyptian column. With Galluzo, it is the same, are pierced and decoratedsymmetrically. Not until 1750, when the Rococo influence, change these symmetries and shapes. The existence of chewing is very common in this era, especially in the watchmaking and sobrevolante English influence is always one foot, or anchoring in English clocks and two anchors on the continent.

The sobrevolantes, or Galluzo, were made in ancillary industries around the city of Liverpool, and were mostly made by hand, using small files by local artisans during the wet winters, mainly in rural areas, needed to some of these pieces, periods of three or four weeks for manufacturing, reporting to their manufacturers enough money for maintenance during these long periods of unemployment mandatory. The plate is engraved with the name of the city, London, to whether the signature of the manufacturer, Kover, and the number of series, 8346.

ESCAPE. Catherine wheel and steering wheel with silver dial for regulation numbered 1 to 6. Catherine Wheel, has broken a tooth and is repaired with a false tooth welded to the wheel. The operation of the watch is excellent. Delayed three minutes to 24 hours, which is acceptable for a watch made in 1727

SIZE. The diameter of the inner box is 4 cm. The outer diameter of the box that forms the "bumpers" is 6 cm.


NOTE. There is a very similar specimen in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague. A photograph of the sheet is in the 139 Page 192 of the book "El Arte de la Relojería" the editorial LIBSA Madrid, 1980.

The boxes embossed clocks, also known as "repousse" is a technique that watch cases were manufactured from malleable metal sheets. This system of decoration is the result of hitting the inside of a metal in a mold made of a hard material such as wood, which has been carved in negative figure to play. Subsequently, the work is completed with appropriate tools that outline the figures that we obtained by chisels are hardened steel tools with which to treat bites the metal along the lines desired. Contrary to what seems, is a difficult method that requires high degrees of expertise and artistic talents, excelling in England important artists such as Augustin Heckel, G. M. Moser and John Valentine Haidt who performed great works by the year 1730. The favorite subjects were scenes from mythology, Greek and Roman warriors and even some religious, but also performed scenes of landscapes, animals, and grotesque scenes or historical.

During this period of time, this type of clocks used to be hung in chains of gold or gilt metal, widely recorded, usually with the same procedure as external boxes of watches, which were attached to his waistcoat pocket with a hook in the case of men, and waist in the case of women to these strings are called "Chatelaine" and tended to be of extreme beauty.

The origin of this type of channel or "Chatelaine" goes back to the system that had the housekeepers of the stately homes throughout central Europe carry the keys to the gates of houses different castles, and was developed over the eighteenth century, to reach the form of that shown in the picture above from the second half of the century, and formed by a body central hanging articles of two or three pieces held together by the back by a large hook fastening to side chains used to hang in an indefinite number, at the ends dangling the keys to wind the clock, or seals to seal the letters or small perfume or any implement that could decorate.

Over time, these chains are lengthened or turned into films, which combined metal and fabric, especially after the French Revolution, becoming the so-called Leontine.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Watch No. 7629 - a slight diversion - first instalment

My own Kover watch has a little stack of paper padding between the inner and outer cases the top sheet of which is a paper disk from a watch and clock maker in Dundee:


I have found the following entry in an 1850 Dundee Directory:
"Henderson William watchmaker and jeweller 32 Nethergate; h. St Mary's close"

I have also found some old photos of 32 Nethergate, Dundee here The text accompanying this photo states:
"James Rattray, the watchmaker and jewellery business founded in 1850, and worked by him George D. Rattray, was No. 32, ..."
There are other photos of 32 Nethergate which are accompanied by the followinbg text:
"James Rattray, the watch and clock maker, jeweller, and gold and silversmith at No. 32, remains on the site in 2000. In 1894, Rattray lived at No. 25 Windsor Street, while George D. Rattray, watchmaker, lived at No. 19 Louise Terrace in Broughty Ferry."
and "James Rattray, the silversmith and jeweller at No. 32 founded in 1850, has survived to the present day (2000). An advertisement in the Dundee Directory of 1896-97 says 'contracts entered into for repairs and alternations of church and turret clocks'."

I wonder whether William Henderson worked for James Rattray or whether the shop changed hands in 1850.

My ancestors were living in Dundee in the mid 1800's so I guess there is a link here but I don't know if the watch was bought secondhand from 32 Nethergate of whether it was repaired there. It has signs of being repaired but that obviously doesn't prove much.

The numbers on the back of the paper interest me. I thought at first that it isn't a date because of the reverse order of month and day (which is called middle endian form and is used now, for example, in the United States). However Wikipedia informs me that "This date format was commonly used alongside the small endian form in the United Kingdom until the early 20th Century"

Therefore the numbers, read from top to bottom could represent 24th October 1837 (possibly 1857).

I will do some more research soon...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

A question of dates

The dates given for Kover in "Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World" are ca.1720-ca.1760 and the reference cited is the Dennison Watch Collection. The catalogue of the 1913 Exhibition of the Dennison Collection gives the date of the Kover watch as 1700.

I'm wondering what was the source of the date range ca.1720-ca.1760. I've Googled for any clues but have drawn a blank. Any suggestions gratefully received.

So far I have collected the following dating information:

From Watch-wiki...
Kover, London, Work No. 2570, 50 mm, 99 gr., Circa 1759
Silver double-spindle housing pocket with tortoiseshell-over housing and decorative nail decoration

From Old Bailey Proceedings, 16th September 1761...
A watch marked with the name Kover and the number 9430 was stolen in 1761

From the account book of Thomas Tye 1713-1783...
1 November 1752 Exchanged a Silver Watch with Mr John Colton in Turncalf Aley for a pinch Beack watch Double Gilt with Gold a new one he brote with him from London No.8990 makers name Kover London gave in Exchange as by his receipt for the same £3.0s 0d"

Friday, 7 October 2011

Kover Watch Exhibited in 1913 - reference

I decided to do a little more research on the Dennison Watch Collection. I managed to find a copy of:

"Historic horology: being a catalogue of a collection of antique watches belonging to the Franklin Dennison collection and exhibited by the Dennison Watch Case Company at the jewellers' exhibition, 1913."
Dennison, Franklin.

Publisher: [London, 1913?]
Description: 68 p. 17 cm.
Notes: 1 plate.

at the National Art Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, London. I telephoned the enquiry desk who said they would retrieve a copy of the 1931 catalogue and the following related document:

"Important collection of English & continental watches formed by Franklin Dennison. 1961 Oct. 10."
Christie's London.

Publisher: London
Sale Date: 10th October 1961
Description: ill.
Notes: Place of sale: London. Dennison watch collection.

The 1913 catalogue at the National Art Gallery includes the Supplement [London, 1914] bound into the back of it.

The 1913 catalogue includes one reference to a Kover watch as follows:

Lot No. 38:
Verge; in Repoussé Pinchbeck Case; Gold Dial. Kover, London, 1700.

Unfortunately no watch number. The other two documents do not contain any references to Kover.

Thanks to Elizabeth and Vicky at the V&A National Art Library for their excellent service.

I discovered the whereabouts of the documents on WorldCat

Note to self: Franklin Dennison looks an interesting character. Must do a little more digging about him.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Kover in "Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World"

Today I visited our local Reference Library (thank goodness these still exist despite the web). A Second Edition (1947) of Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World by G.H.Baillie (Fellow of the Institute of Physics) was quickly fetched from "the stack" for me. This is what I found:

In the section, LIST OF WATCH AND CLOCKMAKERS, Page 183:

KOVER, ——.   London.    ca.1720-ca.1760.
      Watch Den. coll.

and in section xiv, ABBREVIATIONS:

Den. coll.  .  .  .  Dennison collection.

In section xv, LIST OF NAMES WITH ALTERNATIVE SPELLINGS there is no entry for Kover.

I've started researching the Dennison Collection (which seems to have been exhibited by the Dennison Watch Case Company at the jewellers' exhibition, 1913.) and will post something on my findings when I have more complete information.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Kover watch lost in Boston 1761 - reference

From P142 of The arts & crafts in New England, 1704-1775  
gleanings from Boston newspapers relating to
painting, engraving, silversmiths, pewterers, clockmakers, furniture,
pottery, old houses, costume, trades and occupations, &c ...

By George Francis Dow.
Published 1927

" —— KOVER. — Lost in Boston, on Thursday last, a Silver Watch, with a scollapt Face, made by Mr Kover of London, a Silver Chain, and two Silver Seals, one of which has a Compass in the Seal; The Nubb of the Spring is broke off. ... $3 reward.
Boston Gazette, Nov. 2, 1761."

$3 reward!!

Watch No. 2570

Google just informed me of this photograph of Kover watch no: 2570 on the Watch-wiki website

The mechanism looks very similar to my watch (no: 7629) but the outer case appears to be tortoiseshell, whereas mine is embossed (perhaps repoussé or chased) with a classical design showing two people.

Note to self: must take some decent photographs of my watch and publish them here.

A Google translation to English of the comment on Watch-wiki reads:
Kover, London, Work No. 2570, 50 mm, 99 gr., Circa 1759
Silver double-spindle housing pocket with tortoiseshell-over housing and decorative nail decoration
A silver double-cased verge pocket watch with tortoiseshell outer case and stud decoration
Image copyright: the auction house auctions Dr. H. Crott 

Watch-wiki says elsewhere about Kover:
English clockmaker
Kover was active around 1720 to about 1760 in London. A watch movements in the Dennison Collection proven.

Here is the auction lot description which refers to Kover no: 2570. 1500-2000 EUR for the Kover watch and 7 others.

Notes to self:
Research the Dennison Collection (see 7 October 2011 post)
Look at the book: Watch & Clockmakers of the World; Author: Baillie, G. H.; ISBN 140679113X, Page 183 (see 6 October 2011 post)
Get hold of a copy of Collector's Encyclopedia of Pendant and Pocket Watches 1500-1950