Pearsall & Embree

Effingham Embree retailed and made clocks and was also listed as a watchmaker during his long and successful career in New York City. He likely learned the clock and watchmaking trade from relative Thomas Pearsall. Thomas Pearsall, a prominent Quaker from Long Island, made clocks during the 1770s and 1780s (Hohmann, 347).

Embree joined Thomas Pearsall in partnership from 1781 to 1790. The firm Pearsall & Embree was located at the corner of Beekman's Slip in 1781 and at 43 Queen Street in 1783 and advertised often in New York papers. It was likely Pearsall's trade connections that enabled the firm to import their own line of "Pearsall & Embree" engraved watches as in this example.

Effingham Embree

Pearsall & Embree Pocket Watch

After the partnership ended in 1790, Effingham Embree is listed at 185 Queen Street (possibly the corner of Queen and Beekman's Slip) and at 275 Pearl Street in 1794. Streets named after the crown were eliminated after the Revolutionary War; Pearl Street was extended to eliminate Queen Street and therefore 185 Pearl and 275 Pearl may actually be the same physical location.

Effingham Embree continued in the business offering his own line of (imported) watches now engraved with only his name.

Pearsoll & Embree Pocket Watch

Pearsall & Embree Watch Movement

Revolutionary War Watch

Few Pearsall & Embree watches survive, this one is engraved "Pearsall & Embree New York 53221". It is nicely finished with a fusee and verge escapement movement with dust cap, round baluster pillars, signed enamel dial and beetle and poker hands.

Early American Watch
Colonial Watch Maker

NTW Case Maker's Mark

The silver pair cases have London assay date letter for 1786-87 and case maker's mark "NTW" for Nicholas Thomas Wood, Clerkenwell, London. A duty mark of King George III used from 1786 to 1798 is stamped within and indicates that tax was paid on the silver case (Priestley, 28).

Additional References and recommended reading:

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

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

  • Information about Thomas Pearsall and Effingham Embree compiled by historian David Grace

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