Effingham Embree Pocket Watch

Effingham Embree was a celebrated clock and watchmaker working from 1781 to 1797 in New York. He retailed and made clocks and was also listed as a watchmaker during his long and successful career. One of his tall case clocks is in the White House. Born in Flushing, Long Island in 1759, he served in the New York Militia before the British occupation of New York. He likely learned the clock and watchmaking trade from relative Joseph or Thomas Pearsall joining Thomas in partnership in the firm Pearsall & Embree from 1781 to 1789, prior to establishing his own business.

Embree Pocket Watch

Effingham Embree Watch

Embree was located at 185 Queen Street and then 275 Pearl Street when he retired in 1797. He seems to also have had business dealings with Stephen Van Wyck who continued business after Embree’s retirement at the same location advertising “successor to Effingham Embree, No. 275 Pearl Street” in the New-York Daily Advertiser on May 26, 1797 (Ganczarczyk, 734-741).

Embree's Number 790 is signed "E. Embree New York" and has a fusee movement with verge escapement, round pillars, white enamel dial and gold hands. This watch was pictured in Complete Price Guide To Watches, Engle, Gilbert, Shugart (2007).

Early American Watches

Embree Movement

Revolutionary War Pocket Watch

Embree Pocket Watch

The silver pair cases have London assay date letter for 1793-94 and maker's mark "BN" with a pellet between the initials for Bartholomew Need, Clerkenwell, London. They also have a duty mark of King George III that was used from 1786 to 1798. "790" is stamped on the inner case following the 1785 Statute that specifies that every watch case contain the number of the watch movement (Priestley, 28). Watch paper by Kelsey from Milwood, Ohio located within the case.

Colonial Pocket Watch

BN Case Maker's Mark

American Watch Papers

Additional References and recommended reading:

  • Mary Ellen Embree LeBien, Embree Remembered, The Extraordinary Lives and Times of Robert and Effingham Embree, 2002

  • Jerzy Ganczarczyk, Stephen Van Wyck English Cylinder Watches, NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin, No. 317, (December, 1998), pp. 734-741

  • Frank Hohmann III, Timeless, Masterpiece American Brass Dial Clocks, Hohmann Holdings LLC, New York, 2009

  • Philip Priestley, Early Watch Case Makers of England 1631– 1720, NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin Special Order Supplement No. 3 (2000)