Sunday, 31 March 2019

Carnegie Hero Fund watch - untangling the hallmarks.


The inscription says
(I am told!)

The Errington movement has an English Lever escapement and a
Bregue sprung cut compensating balance.
The watch is from the Errington Watch Factory in Coventry (then owned by Williamson) for David Harley of Dunfermline but the case was much modified before being presented to William Russell by The Carnegie Hero Fund for saving life in 1912.

The hallmarks are interesting:
  • There is no Assay House mark.
  • The dust cover has the makers mark "C & W" and London date marks for 1910 /11.
  • The front cover has the makers mark "ATO" and London date marks for 1911/12.
  • The pendant marks are difficult to read but look to be "CH" , Birmingham 1911/12 and
  • The highly decorated back lid has no marks at all.
The case was originally made by Thomas Clark and Alfred Ward of Kensington Rd Coventry ("C&W"), who I know from other examples were making cases for Errington watches at this time, the Errington ("C.H.E") mark having been cancelled in 1905. So the Dust cover is almost certainly original to the body.

As was common the pendant was made by a specialist pendant maker, in this case by Charles Harrold & Co.

The back is more complicated. It is not in one orriginal piece the centre having been cut out and a cast silver disk with the Latin moto and a hero's laurel wreath expertly let into it. This removed the hallmarks, including the London Assay mark, but as the back was now modified and from two makers it could not be resubmitted for assay and could not have had 2 sets of marks. It is OK for two lids to have different marks because they are hinged to the body and are considered different pieces of silver - which is why they are individually marked in the first place.

The history of the front lid is more problematic, the "ATO" mark is that of Albert Oliver of Clerkenwell, London. I can think of two reasons it is different to the rest, either the original was damaged during the engraving and had to be replaced or, my guess, the watch was original a half hunter and was converted to a hunter so that the long engraving could be put in a visible place.

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