Sold in Charleston
A Stunning 22-Carat Gold Colonial Watch, Likely Owned by a Wealthy Charleston Plantation Landowner.
Joshua Lockwood (1729-1809) announced his arrival from London in 1757. He imported clocks, watches and numerous other consumer goods that he initially sold from his shop on Elliott Street before moving three years later to Broad Street where the most prominent merchants and craftsmen in Charleston were located.
Slave Owner's Watch
Joshua Lockwood advertised his top-of-the line watches in 1760 as follows; "... the best work is engraved in relieve (sic), with whole slides and filigree borders” (Harris, 283). This description matches the superb quality of the watch pictured. It is additionally cased in 22-carat gold and therefore is an example of one of the most expensive watches that could be bought anywhere at this time, an item that was likely owned by one of Lockwood's ultra-rich plantation landowner customers. It was made in 1763-64, one hundred years before the Civil War.
Colonial Gold Watch
The workmanship of this watch is outstanding. The movement is signed, Joshua Lockwood, Charlestown, Number 2055. It has square baluster pillars, verge escapement and fusee and chain. The asymmetrical balance table is exquisitely pierced and engraved with a filigree surround, and the back plate features elaborately decorated embellishments with a matching filigree design surround. Notice that the 4 blued screws that attach the name plate and applied embellishments are symmetrically positioned and draws the eye to the large, raised rose-colored end-stone at the center of the balance table.
The outer case features a terrific 22-carat chased and engraved repoussé case that is a piece of art. It depicts the Calydonian Boar Hunt, a Greek mythology tale that would have appealed all too well to the plantation elite. The story is about Zeus’ daughter, Artemis, who sends a giant wild boar to terrorize King Oineus’ lands as punishment for being disrespectful. The boar is killed by the King’s son Meleagros who falls in love with the skilled warrior Atalanta during the dangerous hunt. The portrayal on the watch case shows Meleagros on the left with the boar under foot and the beautiful Atalanta seated on the right. Much to the dismay of his two uncles in the background, Meleagros is presenting the prize boar to Atalanta as a token of his affection. The work appears to be signed by the renowned London gold chaser Henry Manly (1698-1774) who immigrated from Augsburg to London in 1728, but research continues to take place.
The inner pair case is also 22-carat gold and has maker’s initials “IW” for John Watkins or John Wright, and London date letter “H” for 1763-64.
A similar watch in silver can be viewed in the collection of the National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania.
Possible Manly Case
IW Case Maker's Mark
It is interesting to note that Charleston played a large role leading up to, and during, the Revolutionary war. It had its own version of the "Boston Tea Party," saw intense fighting, and was occupied by British troops. During this time, Loyalists and Patriot citizens took up sides; the economy was wrecked, and debts went unpaid.
Lockwood was a well-known Patriot, Sons of Liberty leader, and member of the Provincial Congress after the war (Walsh). The failing economy and his patriotic activities forced him to abandon clock and watchmaking until 1781 when he announced that he was once again working as a Watchmaker on Broad Street and seeking the return of his "cutters and keys for a set of watch engines" that had been left at his house and apparently went missing sometime during the Revolutionary War years (Harris).
Joshua Lockwood, Watch-Maker, At the Corner of Union-Street in Broad-Street; Has now to dispose of a very large and neat assortment of Clocks and Watches, all of which are of the latest improvements, and came in the last vessels from London, and will be sold at he London retailing prices; Those gentlemen who buy must expect to pay in January or February next at farthest: He has also a great variety of Watch-Chains and Seals of all sorts; likewise fine fashionable Pinchbeck Buckles, some of which is double gilt; the gilt are from fifty shillings to three pounds a pair; the ungilt from ten to twenty-five shillings the pair; Pocket Pistols of all prices, and Kerby's Fish-Hooks at two shillings and six-pence the score.
Additional References and recommended reading:
Richard Edgcumbe, The Art of the Gold Chaser in Eighteenth-Century London, Oxford University Press, 2001
James Gibbs, Dixie Clockmakers. Gretna, Louisiana: Pellican Publishing Company, Inc., 1979
J. Carter Harris, The Clock and Watch Makers American Advertiser, Sussex, UK, Antiquarian Horological Society, 2003
R. Walsh, Charleston's Sons of Liberty, A Study of the Artisans 1763 – 1789. Columbia, University of South Carolina Press, 1959, Pages 59-65, 78-81.
How Much Is That in Today’s Money? http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/summer02/money2.cfm (last visited April 12, 2017)