Hacking 1850 Joseph Johnson Liverpool (pics added)
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Thread: Hacking 1850 Joseph Johnson Liverpool (pics added)

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  1. #1
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    Hacking 1850 Joseph Johnson Liverpool (pics added)

    So it has been a time from the last posing on here. Life takes us all over and everywhere we go...Look for watches!

    A local coin shop had this one on hand. It came in with 2 other watches. The others are ok but not remarkable in rarity. A 15 jewel HC US Watch Co Waltham 18s lever set and a 23 jewel 16s lever set Waltham on an OF case. Those were a no brainer purchase based on his pricing. The 3rd watch I had to think over. Not a cheap watch by a reasonable collectors standard and I don't plop cash down randomly.

    I tried to do as much research as possible on this one. It is a 18k fully jeweled Joseph Johnson from 1850 (per the hallmarks). When I first looked at it my biggest concern was the potential that it needed repair. The missing second hand was obvious but the function of the movement was priority. A gentle rock and watching the lever and escapement gave me my answer. The wheel turned and the lever engaged. Balance swings freely so no issue there. He had no key and neither did I so the mainspring condition was a mystery. He named his price and based on the gold content and weight we both know he was under scrap.

    He explained that he knew it was too nice to scrap out and would rather make a little profit then destroy it for just a bit more money. This the the kind of coin shop I like the most! So I left without it because I needed to research. I found some posts on NAWCC and auctions and think there are some gaps in info out there.

    Joseph Johnson of Liverpool started watchmaking in 1895 around the age of 15. He apparently only lived to about 45. He, in my opinion, made some very nice movements. Most seem to be fully jeweled with Liverpool windows. By the fact his children had the same name so good chance is that they carried on with the company up until the early 1860's.

    My example even has a jeweled English lever. So my estimates are 16 to 17 jewels. This one, along with many, has diamond endstones. The balances on the ones I have seen vary. I have seen solid gold, steel, bimetallic with a blued steel center, a uncut bimetallic with screws, and then mine which is a cut bimetallic with screws. So there appear to be 5 different balances in use over 60 years and they almost seem to follow a natural progression in technology.

    All are gilt, fusee, and full plate movements. The click and pawl as seen on mine seems to only be used sparingly. One feature mine has that I think many miss looking at these is the "hack" lever. These are hacking pocket watches made prior to 1860 and I would say this feature was put on the better end of their movements.

    A quick search of ebay shows orphaned and parts movements that have this function. We know that most of these movements are only in this state after their cases were scrapped. Most likely these were heavy 18k as it appears that when Johnson cased in gold it was 18k.

    Joseph Johnson watches were used on the American railroads prior to the establishment of the standards and in a time that English watch making was at its best. You can see some of the elements that correspond to what the American watch industry would put into the iconic American railroads watches. Full jewel, split bimetallic screwed balance, and lever escapement. You also see the diamond endstones make their way into the higher end 21 and up American watches.

    So without further babbling by me here are the first group I took after just getting it.





    Picture of the hack lever at 5. Another is further down as well.















    These are after I got it home and cleaned and oiled it. The case came up very nice. I did manage to rummage up a second hand of the right length but the pivot hole was too small. I used my staking set to broach out the pivot hole but it came up jut a hair too big so I crimped it back down just a bit. I would love to get a matching hand set for the watch but at the moment that is just a pipe dream.





















    I used a polishing cloth and and cape cod on the case.
    Last edited by thoth; August 2nd, 2015 at 23:06.

  2. #2
    Member Apollonaught's Avatar
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    Re: Hacking 1850 Joseph Johnson Liverpool (pics added)

    Hi Thoth,

    Very nice indeed,not something seen very often,pocket watches with hacking features that is.I can easily see this being used by the officialdum in parliament or something to that effect.Any clues to who may have owned it?I see an inscription in the sheild?Anyway always nice to see splashes of blued steel amidst the gold,thanks for sharing.
    thoth likes this.
    "There are many paths leading up the mountain,but the view from the top is the same."

  3. #3
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    Re: Hacking 1850 Joseph Johnson Liverpool (pics added)

    Thanks Apollonaught! The name in the shield is Hollis. It is a older name that dates far back but nailing it down to which Hollis.

    I have been compiling a small list of these watches that I will post here shortly.

    Sent from my Z10 using Tapatalk
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  5. #4
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    Re: Hacking 1850 Joseph Johnson Liverpool (pics added)

    There appears to be a range of grades and possibly models that could have been chosen. From non jeweled and non hacking to full jewel with hack in 18k cases. 60075 is closest to mine which is 60664. It is a solid steel balance or other material without jeweling and a silver case. I don't know if you could choose features to be added and have a customized movement but I doubt it. Most likely you got what you paid for so the more you paid the higher grade and more features. I will be expanding and turning this into a spreadsheet at some point.


    3407 no case exposed click no exposed spring Liverpool jewels solid balance diamond endstone

    4529 hc silver american? no exposed click Liverpool jewels bimetallic solid balance non hack Massey 1 escapement marked detached ruby endstone

    7256 unmarked dial non hack solid steel balance silver case no pivots jeweled

    9250 no case no exposed click Liverpool jewels bimetallic solid balance non hack Massey 3 escapement marked detached diamond endstone thermocomensated marked 25 church street


    11783 replacement case solid balance diamond endstone Liverpool jewels click and pawl with external spring balance cock marked patent hacking

    12003 no case painted dial Liverpool jewels bimetallic balance with timing screws kwks 25 church st diamond endstone

    12443 18k HC gold dial movement marked 25 church street Liverpool jewels diamond endstone solid balance cock marked patent hacking

    12808 silver hc no exposed click or spring Liverpool jewels railway timekeeper dial solid balance 25 church st diamond endstone non hack

    12835 no case no dial movement marked 25 church street ratchet and click but no external spring balance cock marked lever Liverpool jewels diamond endstone solid balance hacking


    15314 no case no dial hacking Liverpool jewels diamond endstone balance cock marked patent solid balance

    18065 no case 25 church st marked dial with serial and 14 jewels balance cock marked patent Liverpool jewels solid balance may have had diamond endstone hacking


    20334 hc railway timekeeper dial 18k no exposed click Liverpool jewels solid balance 25 church street non hack diamond endstone

    22726 OF 18k dial marked 25 church street movement marked 25 church street Liverpool jewels diamond endstone click and pawl with exposed spring solid balance hacking


    60075 1850 silver OF case unmarked dial no address non diamond endstone unjeweled plates solid steel balance

    63671 hc silver 1852 no exposed click Liverpool jewels solid balance non hack English lever diamond endstone

    96040 18k hc no exposed click or spring monometalic balance liverpool jewels kwks 25 church st non hack diamond endstone.
    Last edited by thoth; August 5th, 2015 at 19:07.
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    Re: Hacking 1850 Joseph Johnson Liverpool (pics added)

    I have just joined this group especially in order to thank Thoth for this immensely informative posting, which I discovered through a Google search on Joseph Johnson. I have been interested in old fusee watches for more than fifty years and have been trying to gather data on the Johnson firm ever since 2001 when I bought watch no. 5687 (English lever, 13 jewels, non-original pair-case: backplate illustrated in Wikipedia article on Johnson). I now have nos. 5680 (bare movement, Massey I escapement, 13 jewels; circa 1823?) and 15488 (17 jewels, thinner calibre with narrow parallel-sided cock, non-original case as usual; circa 1840?). Both have hack-levers and uncompensated balances; neither has the outboard set-up gear shown in 60664.

    Oliver Mundy.
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  7. #6
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    Re: Hacking 1850 Joseph Johnson Liverpool (pics added)

    Thank you Oliver and welcome to the forum. I have always liked fusee watches but tend to have bad luck with getting a good running one. I know not to expect RR grade accuracy from one. I just want one knowing it is running as well as it possibly could have when it was made. They are small works of art that showed the individual quality of skill of its maker. With 50 years of interest in fusee watches you will be a great asset here as they do come up in conversation. The Johnson's are well made and that was one of the reasons I was interested in this one.

    I am happy to see that someone has seen the blog lol. Again welcome on board! :)

  8. #7
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    Re: Hacking 1850 Joseph Johnson Liverpool (pics added)

    Thoth: - Thank you for your friendly greeting. I am returning to this thread because I have become doubtful of the hallmarks on the case of your Johnson No. 60664. The date-letter looks to me more like a black-letter F (London 1841) than a P (1850), although I may have been misled by the resolution of the image, but in any event I feel that the movement must be later than either year; it was not until nearly 1860 that English makers began to use a protruding, rather than countersunk, head on the cock screw. The broad and flattened pendant of the case looks thoroughly American to me. I have been working for some time on a Johnson database which now comprises over 75 items; in doing so I have come across several examples of gold cases combining American stylistic features with 'English' hallmarks which are almost but not quite correct, and most of them involve a date-letter which is some kind of upper-case F. I suspect this is another example. There is nothing wrong or unusual in the combination of a quality English movement and an American gold case; in fact this is the rule rather than the exception with Johnsons.

    I should also like to ask permission to include the data from your posting no. 4 in my database, with acknowledgements to you as the source. Of the sixteen items you have listed, only two were otherwise known to me. I appreciate that you have expressed an intention of compiling your own database, and you may well prefer to save your information for this purpose; I shall certainly not use it without your authority. I have attached two screenshots of the Excel document I have created.

    Oliver Mundy.
    Attachment 7455986Attachment 7455994

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