Doctor's Pocket Watch
One does not need a lot of money to build an interesting collection. In fact, some watches made two centuries ago can be bought for a few hundred dollars in today’s market. This is one such example that appealed to my interests in multiple ways.
This silver pair case watch, engraved Collier Manchester 501, has a sweep seconds movement with a hack feature operated by a lever on the side that allows the watch to be stopped and started on demand. These configurations are sometimes referred to as a doctor’s watch. Indeed, notes provided by the auction consignor stated that it belonged to Alexander Sheldon, M.D. (1766-1836) who worked in Connecticut and New York.
However, of additional interest was the maker of the pair case, Dr. Sheldon’s silver watch chain, and the watch papers within the case. The pair case is marked sterling silver with London assay and date mark for 1789. The cases also have a King George III export duty mark that was used from 1786 to 1798 and indicates that this watch was destined for the American market. Inner case has a 7-knuckle hinge, outer case a 5-knuckle hinge. The interesting bit is the case makers’ mark, “AM” is for Angela Marson who took over the business when her husband James passed away.
Exceedingly few women are documented working in the watchmaking or silversmith trade, although no-doubt they played a large and important role.
The silver chain is a wonderful example about 16 inches long. These period chains are actually quite hard to find. This one may have been on this watch for the last 200 years.
Lastly, four wonderful watch papers were within the case; Abraham Fellows, Troy, New York that dates to circa 1810; P. H. Furman, Schenectady, New York with a repair date of 1829 on the reverse; and two very rare embossed intaglio commemorative papers on linen that depict General Washington and General Lafayette.
As for the movement, it is a good quality verge and fusee as one would expect. Unfortunately, the watch is missing it’s minute hand, that should be located within the small dial at the top, and also its long sweep seconds hand that would have reached to the seconds index on the very edge of the enamel dial.
Additional References and recommended reading:
Brian Loomes, Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World, N.A.G. Press, 2006
Philip Priestley, British Watchcase Gold & Silver Marks 1670 to 1970, National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, 2018