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British Hallmarks

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I started my pages about hallmarking to document information about imported watches, which is not readily available in the standard references such as Bradbury and Chaffers. However, I realised that many people with a watch that they have perhaps been given or inherited don't have ready access to these standard works, so on this page I show some examples of the British hallmarks that were found in any watch cases that were hallmarked before 1 June 1907, and which continued to be used in British manufactured watch cases after 1907.

I can't (for copyright reasons apart from anything else) reproduce the information in Bradbury or Chaffers, but I hope the examples here will help you read the hallmarks in your own watch. If you want some help, don't hesitate to email me, but do try to send me a clear picture or sketch of the mark you need help with.

London, sterling, 1860/61, Richard Oliver
Click image to enlarge

There are lots more examples further down the page, but let's make a start with the example of the hallmarks in the picture here, just to get a feel for what a set of British hallmarks looks like. The first thing to note is that there are four distinct marks.

Starting at the top the first mark is a walking lion with raised right forepaw. This is the "lion passant" which indicates that the metal is sterling silver. Below this is a leopard's head, the "town mark" of the London Assay Office together with the date letter "e" for 1860/1861 At the bottom the sponsor's mark R.O in rectangular shield, the mark of Richard Oliver, first registered 16 February 1859.

Assay and Hallmarking

Let's now have a look at the four parts of a British hallmark in more detail. Watch cases made in Britain from silver or gold should by law have been subjected to "assay" (which simply means "to test") to determine the purity of the metal, and provided they are of the required standard, stamped with marks showing at least the following four things:

  1. Town mark - showing at which assay office the article was marked.
  2. Standard mark - the tested and guaranteed minimum fineness of the metal.
  3. Date letter - a mark which shows when the item was marked.
  4. Sponsor's mark - a mark showing who submitted the item for hallmarking.

There might also be a duty mark of the sovereign's head if the watch case was hallmarked between 1784 and 1798, or a letter "F" in an oval shield signifying Foreign manufacture if the watch case was imported between 1867 and 1887. After 1 January 1888 imported watch cases could no longer be marked with the usual form of British hallmarks.

Town Marks

Each Assay Office has its own "town" mark to show at which office an item was assayed. Amongst the most familiar town marks are:

The medieval craftsmen who designed the London mark mark had never seen a leopard. They thought thought it was a cross between a lion (which they had also never seen) and a mythical creature called a "pard", hence the name "leo-pard" and which is why the older leopard designs have manes and look suspiciously like lions. From 1300 until 1821 the leopard was pictured wearing a crown, since then he has been without the crown or mane.

It might be thought strange that Birmingham, set in the middle of the England and about as far from the sea as you can get, would use an anchor for its symbol. This is said to go back to 1773 when silversmiths from Birmingham and Sheffield petitioned Parliament for their own assay offices so that they wouldn't have to send items to London to be marked. The petitioners held meetings in The Crown and Anchor public house off The Strand in London. Each town adopted one of these signs as its mark and they tossed a coin to decide which; Sheffield got the crown and Birmingham the anchor. From 1773 the Birmingham and Sheffield Assay Offices were authorised to assay and mark silver. Birmingham was authorised to assay and mark gold in 1824, using the anchor town mark for both gold and silver. Sheffield was authorised to assay and mark gold in 1903 and then used two town marks - the crown for silver and the rose for gold. Use of the crown on gold was reserved for the standard mark of 22 carat gold

The emblem of Glasgow can be traced back to the legend of Saint Mungo, the founder and patron saint of the city of Glasgow.

After 1 June 1907 very different town marks were used for imported watches, which you can read about on my page about Import Hallmarks.

Standard Marks

Although hallmarks are very interesting in their own right and can tell us a lot about the history of an item, the original reason for hallmarking and the item of principal interest to the original purchaser was the "fineness" of the metal, i.e. how much gold or silver is actually in the alloy. This is indicated by the "standard" mark. The standard mark does not show the actual gold or silver content, but shows that the proportion of gold or silver meets or exceeds a legally defined minimum standard.

There are two standards for silver in Britain. Sterling silver, the most widely used, contains at least 11 ounces and 2 pennyweight of pure silver in the pound troy, making it at least 92.5% pure silver. The new standard of Britannia, introduced in 1697, contains at least 11 ounces and 10 pennyweight of pure silver in the pound troy, making it at least 95.8333...% pure silver, usually rounded to 95.84%.

Gold purity is measured in carats, where 24 carat gold means pure gold and fineness is measured as a proportion of 24, e.g. 18 carats is 18/24 = 75% pure gold. These proportions are by weight, because the density of gold is so much greater than other metals the proportions by volume a smaller. The first legal standard for gold in 1300 was 19⅕ carats, which was reduced to 18 carats in 1477 and then raised to 22 carats in 1575, which remains the higher standard to this day. An additional lower standard of 18 carats was introduced at the request of watchmakers in 1798, and then in 1854, again at the request of watchmakers, additional standards of 15, 12 and 9 carat were allowed. The 15 and 12 carat standards did not prove popular and by Order in Council in 1932 they were both replaced by a standard of 14 carat.

If the fineness of sterling silver were expressed in carats it would be 24 * 0.925 = 22.2 carats.

From 1544: the lion passant

From the start of hallmarking in England in the year 1300 the standard mark struck on both silver and gold was the leopard's head. In 1544 during the reign of King Henry VIII a new standard mark was introduced, the "lion passant guardant", a lion walking with three paws on the ground and right forepaw raised, his head turned over his shoulder to face the viewer. The origin of the mark is a mystery, it was not introduced by statute. The lion became the most widely recognised hallmark symbol because it was used by all of the English assay offices. Although the town mark, the date letter and the sponsor's mark all varied from piece to piece, the same lion was always present on "good English silver", and also for many years on gold.

The lion passant was the legal fineness mark used on all sterling silver in England until 1999, and was also used on 22 carat gold until 1844, but not for the additional lower 18 carat standard introduced in 1798 which was marked with a crown and the number 18. The use of the lion as the standard mark on both silver and gold meant that silver gilt items could possibly be mistaken for gold, so from 1816 an additional sun mark was struck on 22 carat gold. This was discontinued in 1844 when the the lion passant was replaced by the symbol of a crown and the number 22 as the standard mark for 22 carat gold.

During the period 1697 to 1720 sterling was replaced as the standard for silver wares (but not for coins) by the higher Britannia standard indicated by the hallmarks of Britannia and a lion's head "erased", a heraldic term meaning it has a jagged rather than straight edge at the neck.

From 1544 to 1549 the lion struck by the London Assay Office was shown "passant guardant" and crowned. From 1550 to 1820 the London lion remained passant guardant, but without the crown. From 1822 the London lion passant was no longer shown guardant but instead with his head in profile, looking forward in the direction he is walking. Other English assay offices varied their depiction of the lion. At Birmingham he was passant guardant until 1875 and passant thereafter. At Chester he was passant guardant until 1822, passant from 1823 until 1883, and then passant guardant from 1884 until the Chester Assay Office closed in 1962.

The standard mark for sterling silver used by the Edinburgh Assay Office was a Scottish thistle, Glasgow a lion rampant, and Dublin a harp crowned.

Assayer's Mark

The year denoted by the date letter can be confusing because until 1975, when the 1973 Act came into force, the hallmarking year did not run from 1 January. This mark was introduced in 1478 and was at first called the "assayer's mark", because it was intended to be a record of who was responsible for the assay of an item if questions later arose. For this reason it was changed each year when the new wardens were elected and thereby indicates the date when the item was assayed and hallmarked, although this was not its original purpose.

Prior to the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660, the London hallmarking year commenced on 19 May, the Feast Day of Saint Dunstan, Dunstan was born at Glastonbury in about the year 925 and is the first recorded working goldsmith in England. He built a cell near the Abbey of Glastonbury containing a forge where he made censers and crosses, chalices and patens, as well as articles for domestic use. He successively became Abbot of Glastonbury, Bishop of Worcester, Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury. After his death on 19 May 988 he was buried in Canterbury Cathedral, canonised in 1029, and became the patron saint of all good goldsmiths. The London Goldsmiths' Company especially honoured St. Dunstan, subscribing towards the light of St. Dunstan in the Church of St. John Zachary, keeping his day as a holiday, and designating him in their records as "Seynt Dunstan our blessed Patron, Protector and Founder". patron saint of English gold and silversmiths. From the restoration of Charles II to the Monarchy in May 1660 until 1973, the London hallmarking year officially commenced on Oak-apple Day (the King's birthday), 29th May, but the actual date when the new letter was first struck was sometimes later by days, and even weeks, depending on when the new punches were accepted by the Wardens, the letter "s" causing trouble on several occasions because the there is no distinct lower case version of the letter s.

The point of all this is that the date letter change is nearly half way through the calendar year! So an item marked with an " a", which the table in Bradbury indicates is the date letter for 1916, could have been marked at any time from May 29th 1916 to 28th May, or possibly even some time in June, 1917.

The Glasgow hallmarking year ran from 1st July to 30th June, neatly bisecting the the year. The Glasgow office closed in 1964. The Birmingham office also changed its date letter with the annual election of the wardens on 1st July.

The date letters used by the London Assay Office to indicate the hallmarking year ran in sequences of 20, starting at the letter "a" and running up to "u", omitting the letter "j". Other offices used the full cycle from "a" to "z".

The letter j, a variant of the letter i, was introduced to allow finer nuance in the written word. This bit of obscure information can be useful if you come across a word like "fjord" (a partially submerged Norwegian coastal valley). At first sight most English speakers would stumble on this word, but just imagine the j as an i and you are close to the correct pronunciation of "fee-yord" - it's not exactly the same because the j sound is slightly different to the i sound, but it gets you close. And you can do vice-versa with i for j if you need to.

Why was "j" left out? Well, the letter "j" was only invented in the 16th century, and didn't make its way into common English usage until the 17th century. The Goldsmith's Guild weren't going to change their ways for a new fangled thing like that. Even the hallmarking act of 1973, which did away with the London cycle ending in "u" and allowed the date letters to run up to " z", didn't introduce the letter "j" into London hallmarks - still a bit too modern I guess.

Maker's and Sponsor's Marks

To send an item to the Assay Office to be assayed, a person must register his details with the particular Assay Office. The reason for this is pretty obvious - the Office needs to know who to charge for their services and who to return the items to, and who to prosecute if a criminal offence has been committed. To facilitate this, the Assay Office requires that each registered person have a registered punch mark, called the "Sponsor's mark", which is unique to them. This usually consists of the persons initials set in a "shield", a surrounding shape. If a person has the same initials as someone already registered, the shield of their mark will be made different so that the two marks can be distinguished. Every punch that can be used to impress the mark must be registered.

The sponsor's mark is not necessarily the mark of the person who made the item. This was first officially recognised in law in the 1738 "Plate Offences Act" but had obviously been practice for some time before then.

Cameo and Intaglio marks

Punches, Shields and Escutcheons

The individual marks that make up a hallmark are usually "in cameo". This means that to make a shape such as a letter or symbol, the metal around the shape is pressed down by the punch so that the shape is left at the surface and stands out in relief. The shape that forms an outline around the depressed part of the mark is called the shield, or sometimes the escutcheon.

An alternative form of punching is called "intaglio" where the shape of a letter or mark is simply cut into the surface. This type of mark is also called "incuse", and often has no shield, although sometimes the punch also cuts a shield around the initials.

The shape of the shield of a sponsor's mark is very important because it is part of what makes each sponsor's mark unique. A sponsor's mark is a compulsory component of the hallmark and comprises the initials of the sponsor's personal or company name surrounded by a shield to form a unique mark. All sponsors' marks are unique and once allocated will never be re-issued to anyone else. When I wanted to register my sponsors mark I found that there was already a mark registered with my DBB initials. By choosing a shield shape with angled ends as shown in the picture, I was able to create a sponsor's mark that was unique to me. Bear this in mind when you are looking at a sponsor's mark, the shield shape is just as important as the letters.

Shield shapes for date letters

The shield shape around the date letters can be confusing if you look in one of the reference books for a date letter on a gold item or watch case.

Bradbury and other books only show the shield shape for silver date letters, which often have wavy bottom or top edges. The shields used for the date letter on gold items usually have plain shields, often square with cut corners or oblong; these are hardly ever shown in the reference books.

Hallmarks - click image to enlarge

Movement - click image to enlarge
Thanks to Ken for the pictures

William Ehrhardt, Birmingham 1909/10 Hallmarks

British made case

These hallmarks are in the British made case of a watch made by the company of William Ehrhardt of Birmingham.

Reading from the top and then left to right the hallmarks are:

This sponsor's mark was registered at the Birmingham Assay Office by William Ehrhardt. Ehrhardt's mark was first registered 14 November 1867, this specific punch was registered 20 February 1907 by William Ehrhardt Ltd.

William Ehrhardt (1831-1897) was born in Germany and served an apprenticeship in watchmaking there. He came to England in 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition. He worked for a time with Upjohn & Bright watchmakers in London

In 1856 Ehrhardt set up a company in Birmingham to make watches by machinery. This was before John Wycherley set up his factory in 1866 in Prescot, Lancashire, and before Aaron Dennison formed the Anglo-American Watch Company in 1871 in Birmingham, so Ehrhardt was one of the pioneers of watchmaking by machinery in England.

Ehrhardt chose Birmingham because it was away from the traditional centres of English watch manufacturing where watches were made by hand using craft skills, Ehrhardt wanted machine operators not traditional watchmakers.

From 1856 to 1863 Ehrhardt operated from addresses in Paradise Street and Augusta Street in Birmingham. In 1864 he moved to Great Hampton Street, and an advert with this address in 1872 says that he has ... constructed machinery to make his patent keyless movement on the interchangeable system. In 1874 he built a new factory, Time Works, in Barr Street to increase production. It is thought that by this time Ehrhardt had produced 200,000 watches.

Ehrhardt was granted a patent, No. 6406 dated 1894, for improvements in the hand setting mechanism of keyless watches.

When William Ehrhardt died in 1897 his sons William and Gustav Victor carried on the business. In the obituary notice it was said that 500 watches were made per week with 400 personnel. Production peaked around 1900 when 250 persons were employed, including many girls who attended the machines, and 600 to 700 watches were made per week. The lower number of employees but greater number of watches made per week imply that Ehrhardt's sons had increased the productivity of the workforce.

Ehrhardt trademarks
Ehrhardt trademarks

From around 1920 the company used the name "British Watch Company Ltd." on some of its watches, most likely hoping to gain patriotic support in the face of growing imports, a sign of the pressure on the few remaining English watch manufacturers.

The company survived until some time after 1924 so was one of the very last English watch manufacturers. By 1926 the Barr Street address was being used in adverts promoting Gustav Victor as a watch cleaner and repairer, but with no mention of watch manufacture.

The company used the two trademarks shown here. The winged arrow was registered on on 4 February 1878 and sometimes varies from the exact shape shown here. The tree was registered on 4 August 1911 and was used on watches that carry the British Watch Company name.

Hallmarks - click image to enlarge

Movement - click image to enlarge
Thanks to Alan for the pictures

Alfred Henry Read, Chester 1888/89 Hallmarks

British made case

These hallmarks are in the British made case of a watch made by Alfred Henry Read of Coventry.

Reading from the top and then left to right the hallmarks are:

The number 11 below the hallmarks would have meant something to the manufacturer; they are usually serial numbers used to keep track of production, e.g. to identify a batch of items of a particular size, or in case some faulty material is used for a batch which needs to be recalled. They don't in themselves contain any information and access to the factory records or personnel would be needed to find out precisely what they signified, which for obvious reasons if not often possible.

If you click on the images to the right, you should get a bigger view.

The initials JW on the movement are for John Wycherley of Prescot, an English pioneer of mass produced rough movement or "frames". In 1866 Wycherley set up a factory in Warrington Road, Prescot, with three floors and steam power to produce plates and other parts by machinery that were interchangeable.

The number 7673 on the watch movement is Wycherley's serial number for the movement. The 12 followed by an 0 over a 3 gives the size or "calliper" of the movement, the size being the diameter of the bottom (dial) plate measured by a pair of callipers. This calliper size is called the Lancashire gauge for determining watch sizes. A diameter of 1" plus 5/30 inches for the mounting flange was taken as the base size and called zero (0) size. Each 1/30 inch increased in diameter increments the size one number. The 12 on this movement indicates that it is 1 and 17/30 inches diameter. The 0 over 3 indicates the pillar height, the distance separating the two plates of the movement. Standard pillar height was taken 1/8"indicated as 0/0, with increments indicated above the line and decrements below in 1/144". So 0 over 3 indicates a pillar height of 1/8" minus 3/144", whatever that works out to be . . .

Wycherley's methods were an advance of the normal method of manufacturing in England at the time. Prescot was the location of a large industry producing frames, mostly in the time honoured craft way, largely by hand with hand powered tools and simple hand operated machines. These frames were then sent to London or Coventry to be finished and built into watches. How complete they were is not clear, but some at least had to have the escapement added in London, so the frame may have been just the simpler parts of the movement, the plates, spring barrel, fusee and train wheels and pinions.

The Coventry Watch Museum Project records Alfred Henry Read working as a watch manufacturer between 1883 and 1901. From the evidence of this watch it appears that Read was manufacturing watches by buying frames from Wycherley, finishing them and putting them into his own watch cases - he would probably have employed a few apprentices or journeymen to do the finishing, and a case maker.

English Watch Co. Birmingham 1878 / 1879 Hallmarks

British made case

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge
Thanks to Jerry for the pictures

These hallmarks are in the British made case of a watch made by the English Watch Co. of Coventry.

Reading from the top and then left to right the marks are:

If you click on the images to the right, you should get a bigger view.

EWCo. trademark

According to Priestley there are two candidates for the sponsor's mark "R·B" in a rectangular shield; Richard Baker of Coventry who registered this mark in 1838, and Robert Bragge of the English Watch Co. who registered an apparently identical mark in 1878. This shouldn't happen, but record keeping was not as efficient then as now and it could be that Baker had ceased work in the intervening 40 years between his registration and Bragge's. The trademark of the English Watch Co., reproduced here from Cutmore, clearly shows that this particular mark is Robert Bragge's.

The name on the movement, William Philcox, 83 High Street, Wandsworth, is that of the retailer, not the maker; it was common practice at the time for the retailer to have their name engraved on the movement by the manufacturer.

The square boss in the middle of the barrel bridge, between "High St." and "Wandsworth" is where a key was applied to wind the watch. This square is on the end of the barrel arbor and winds the watch mainspring directly. This was because the machinery on which the plates were made was designed for the American market, where the use of a going barrel which drove the train directly was the norm while English watchmakers were still clinging to the use of the fusee. In an English watch with a fusee the key was applied to the fusee arbor and wound anticlockwise, so later versions of English Watch Co. watches were made with an extra gear to replicate this direction of winding for the comfort of English customers, although the watches remained driven by a going barrel and not a fusee.

The English Watch Company

The first user of machinery in England to produce watches in any significant quantity was most probably Aaron Dennison, although John Wycherley and William Ehrhardt were also among the earliest British users of machinery for watchmaking, starting earlier than Dennison but using machinery in a less integrated and more piecemeal way.

Dennison left the American Watch Company of Waltham in 1861 after financial problems that led to the failure of the first company and disagreements with the subsequent owners. He came to England in late 1863 as an agent selling patented American machinery to the iron trade in Birmingham, England. On a trip to America in 1864 in conjunction with this agency he was approached by A. O. Bigelow to help set up a new watchmaking company in Tremont, USA. Bigelow's idea was to make watch plates and barrels by machine, and import the other parts from Switzerland. This was successful and the company moved to a new factory in Melrose, USA, with the intention of making all the parts of the watches and producing 100 per week. In this the company overreached itself and it failed in 1868. Dennison was asked to find a buyer and after much searching found investors in Birmingham, England.

The Anglo-American Watch Company was formed in October 1871 at 45 Villa Street, Birmingham, with Dennison as manager and also owning rights in the machines. This was well before Rotherhams, the most successful and therefore best known of the English mechanised manufacturers, bought their first machines from the American Watch Tool Company in 1880.

The initial products, uncased movements, were sent to America for sale but there was little demand because of over supply. Cutmore says that the company was wound up late in 1874 and sold for £5,500 to William Bragge, who renamed it the English Watch Company. However, Priestley records a special resolution of the Anglo-American Watch Company passed on 11 February 1874 that changed the name to English Watch Company, and another special resolution passed on 9 June 1875 proposed the voluntary winding up and sale of the company. The London Gazette reports that The English Watch Company Limited of Villa Street, Aston-juxta-Birmingham, was wound up voluntarily in June 1875.

The English Watch Company continued to use the Melrose machinery for making plates and barrels, but was still dependent on the import of parts from Switzerland. In 1880 it was reported that that 200 men were employed and the machinery was little improved, the escapement and much of the material still came from Switzerland. William Bragge ran the company until about 1883 after which his son Robert took over. In 1885 at the 4th Annual General Meeting the shareholders were told of the death of the 'founder' William Bragge, an enlargement of the workshop costing £950 and a new and more powerful steam engine by which a 50% increase in production could be obtained.

A patent was purchased from Mr Douglas of Stourbridge for his double chronograph and his stock of finished and unfinished movements and materials. The patent was probably No 4,164 of 27 September 1881 which allows the fitting of a centre seconds hand and minute counter to a normal watch, either on the conventional dial at the front or a back dial. The chronograph part was operated by a three-push button. The English Watch Company proposed to produce a combined repeating and chronograph watch known as the 'Chrono-micrometer' and one was exhibited at the 1885 Inventions Exhibition in South Kensington. The watch was a minute repeater with the chronograph showing minutes, seconds and fifths. This was an ambitious project in a different class of watchmaking to those previously made.

In 1886 the company was reported to be very busy and in 1890 Robert Bragge and the company took patent 2,856 for 'Improvements in Chronographic watches'. The good times didn't last, and the firm went into voluntary liquidation on 11 February 1895 and was not resurrected. It is thought that Williamsons of Coventry bought some of the machinery.

Rotherhams London 1881 / 1882 Hallmarks

British made case

These hallmarks are in the British made case of a watch made by Rotherhams of Coventry.

Reading from the top and then left to right the marks are:

  • The walking lion, the mark for sterling silver.
  • The sponsor's mark "JR" in a diamond shield, the registered mark of John Rotherham.
  • The leopard's head: the town mark of the London Assay Office.
  • The date letter "F": the date letter of the London hallmarking year 1881 to 1882.

If you click on the image of the hallmarks to the right, you should get a bigger view with each mark highlighted.


NB: Don't confuse the "F" date letter of this hallmark with the "F" (for "Foreign" ) in an oval shield as shown here that from 1867 onwards should have been struck on all imported gold and silver items. The "Foreign" mark would obviously not have been struck in an English made case, but should appear in foreign watches from 1867 until 1887 but has never been seen (unless you have one? If you do, please let me know).

Click image to enlarge

IJTN: Newsome and Company
Chester 1888 / 1889 Hallmarks

British made case

Newsome and Co. were one of the leading English watchmaking firms of the period. The following information about the company is largely based on the entry in Culme John Culme "The Directory of Gold and Silversmiths, Jewellers and Allied Traders, 1838-1914: From the London Assay Office Registers" Publication Date: 15 Oct 1987 | ISBN-10: 0907462464 | ISBN-13: 978-0907462460 Two volumes; the first with 4,000 biographies, the second with photographs of 15,000 marks taken directly from the London Assay Office Registers at Goldsmiths' Hall. .

Newsome & Yeomans of Spon Street, Coventry, advertised in the Watchmaker, Jeweller and Silversmith in 1877 as "Wholesale Watch Manufacturers ... Silver English Lever Watches of every description; also gold lever watches, three-quarter and full plate; Three-quarter Plate Keyless Centre Seconds Stop Watches in Gold and Silver. The Performance of every Watch guaranteed for a number of Years."

The partnership of Isaac Jabez Theo Newsome and Samuel Yeomans (jr) was dissolved on 5th February 1879. Yeomans remained in Spon Street and Newsome moved to 14/15 The Butts, Coventry. Newsome and Co. advertised from this address in the Watchmaker, Jeweller and Silversmith in 1886 as watch and chronometer makers, with an engraving showing the factory.

By 1894 Newsome and Co. had a London office at 94 Hatton Garden, EC, and were advertising as "Wholesale Watch Manufacturers. All kinds of English Lever Watches in Stock. Sole Makers of Patent Safety Wheel for Going Barrels. Keyless Work a Specialité with or without the Kew Certificate in "A," 46B," or "C" class... Illustrated catalogue on application." The firm's London agent was listed in 1897 as J.M. Joseph. By the time the London office has moved to 70 Hatton Garden, Joseph had been replaced by Charles Louis Ebeling.

The son of Isaac Newsome was Samuel Theo Newsome. He became a director of S H Newsome Ltd, watch manufacturers of Coventry, and proprietor of the Coventry Hippodrome. He died on 4 January 1930 aged 61.

Reading from the top and then left to right the marks are:

  • The walking lion, the mark for sterling silver.
  • The town mark of the Chester Assay Office, an upright sword between three wheatsheaves.
  • The assayer's mark or date letter "E": the letter of the Chester hallmarking year 1888 to 1889.
  • The sponsor's mark I.J.T.N registered in 1884 by Isaac Jabez Theo Newsome of 14/15 The Butts, Coventry, watchmaker and watchcase maker.

Waltham Birmingham 1899 / 1900 Hallmarks

British made case

These hallmarks are in the case of a watch by the American Watch Co. of Waltham, MA, USA. The movement was of course made in America, and the case was made in Britain. But one can't be so certain about all Waltham cases with British hallmarks because Waltham had cases made in Britain, Switzerland and America, all of which they had hallmarked in Britain.

In evidence to the Select Committee on hallmarking in 1878 Alfred Bedford, the manager of Waltham UK, said that they could not get enough watch cases made in England and that in 1877 Waltham UK had imported 5,000 watch cases from the USA and 18,000 from Switzerland. Bedford said that these were mostly hallmarked at Chester. To the Select Committee on the Merchandise Marks Amendment Act, which sat in 1887, Bedford said "At our case factory at Birmingham we turn out something like 50,000 cases a year for our watches." This factory is almost certainly what became the Dennison watch case factory.

As I discuss on my page about assay and hallmarking, the 1887 Merchandise Marks Amendment Act made it illegal for foreign watch cases to be marked with British hallmarks like this from 1888 onwards, so this case was British made, almost certainly by Dennison. It appears that Waltham wanted Bedford's sponsors mark rather than Dennison's to appear on their watches.

Reading from the top and then left to right the marks are:

  • The walking lion, the mark for sterling silver.
  • The anchor: the town mark of the Birmingham Assay Office.
  • The date letter "Z": the date letter of the Birmingham hallmarking year 1899 to 1900.
  • The sponsor's mark "A·B" in a rectangular shield, the registered mark of Alfred Bedford, director of Waltham UK.

Thanks to Richard Edwards for the picture of the hallmarks.

IWC "Seeland" Chester 1877 / 1878 Hallmarks

Swiss made case

These hallmarks are in the Swiss made case of an IWC "Seeland" watch.

Reading from the top and then left to right the marks are:

  • The walking lion, the mark for sterling silver.
  • A sword erect between three wheatsheafs (garbs): the town mark of the Chester Assay Office.
  • The date letter "O": the date letter of the Chester hallmarking year 1877 to 1878.
  • The sponsor's mark "AC" incuse in an oval incuse shield, the registered mark of Antoine Castelberg.

IWC "Seeland" watches were made during the period from October 1876 to the summer of 1879 when IWC was under the control of of Frederic Frank (or Francis) Seeland who was appointed to manage the IWC factory in October 1876, after the first company, founded by F.A. Jones, had gone bankrupt. The sponsor's mark is "AC" incised within an oval. This mark was registered at the Chester Assay Office on 17 October 1877 and was the mark of Antoine Castelberg of 58 Holborn Viaduct, London, a watch dealer and importer from La Chaux-de-Fonds. Castelberg had several London addresses, his sponsor's mark was first registered with the London Assay Office on 25 August 1875 with the address 90 Newgate Street London. On 2 August 1876 he moved to 58 Holborn Viaduct. The incised mark registered to Castleberg is unusual because UK makers usually used cameo (relief) marks like the other assay office marks.

Longines London 1877 / 1878 Hallmarks

Swiss made case

These hallmarks are in the Swiss made case of a Longines watch imported by Baume & Co.

Reading from the top and then left to right the marks are:

  • The sponsor's mark "AB" in an oval shield, the registered mark of Arthur Baume of Baume & Co.
  • The walking lion, the mark for sterling silver.
  • The leopard's head: the town mark of the London Assay Office.
  • The date letter "B": the date letter of the London hallmarking year 1877 to 1878.

If you click on the image you should get a bigger view.

Click image to enlarge

Stauffer, Son, & Co. London 1886 / 1887 Hallmarks

Swiss made case

These hallmarks are in the Swiss made case of a Swiss watch imported by the Anglo/Swiss company Stauffer & Co.

Reading from the top and then left to right the marks are:

  • The walking lion, the mark for sterling silver.
  • The leopard's head: the town mark of the London Assay Office.
  • The date letter "L": the date letter of the London hallmarking year 1886 to 1887.
  • The sponsor's mark "CN" in a rectangular shield with cut corners, the registered mark of Charles Nicolet, a director of Stauffer & Co.

If you click on the image you should get a bigger view.

Thanks to Deveron Jewellers for the picture.

Click image to enlarge

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