- Museum number
SILVER-GILT CASED VERGE WATCH WITH DATE INDICATOR.
Watch-paper; cutting from an almanac
Frame: Circular gilt-brass case with four early Egyptian pillars. There is a hole in the pillar-plate for the potence.
Mainspring & Set-Up
Gilt-brass barrel with a snap-in cap. The original tangent-screw set-up has been replaced with a crude ratchet and click system.
Fusee & Stop-Work
Gilt-brass fusee with gut-line and English stop-work, the spring and screw replaced. The fusee is of the type used with a chain and the three holes in the barrel wall suggest that the gut line attachment is a later modification.
Train: Three-wheel going train ,the second and contrate wheel with three crossings.
Escapement: Verge escapement, the crown wheel runs between riveted potence and counter-potence. The crown wheel, verge, balance, balance spring and regulator are all later replacements and modifications. The original pierced foliate balance-cock survives. It was formerly pinned to a stud on the potence-plate but has since been raised by the placing of a brass plate beneath it and is now secured by a screw.
Pinned to the pillar-plate is a silver ring engraved 1-31 and red waxed for the date, which is shown by a pointer on a rotating gilt-brass ring with engraved decoration. The pointer is now missing. In the centre a pinned-on silver dial with Roman hour numerals I-XII, arrow head half-hour marks and a circle for the quarters Around the plain centre an inscription. The single hand is now missing.
Circular silver-gilt case with integral back and hinged split glazed bezel. Around the band and bezel a repeated flower and dart motif. The outer area of the back is engraved with a wide border of realistic flowers. In the middle of the back is an eight-foil surrounding a central rosette. The silver gilt pendant is now very badly worn. On the back the rotating winding cover is a replacement for an earlier one.
Inside the case a piece taken from the page of a diary/almanac for November with 8th highlighted and inscription .
- Production date
Diameter: 46 millimetres
Height: 61.80 millimetres (almanac cutting)
Width: 55.43 millimetres (almanac cutting)
- Curator's comments
- John Milton 1608-1674. While the dates of William Bunting (c.1624 - c.1655) make it possible for the watch to have been owned by Milton, the date 1631 makes this implausible as Bunting was not Free of the Clockmakers' Company until Feb.1646/7 and therefore could not possibly have made this watch in or before 1631. The unconvincing style of the inscription suggests an early 19th century date for its addition to the dial.
Associated dates : 1631.
Bibliography: Benson, J.W., TIME & TIME-TELLERS, London 1875, pp.51-52 illus.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- J.W. Benson says, "presented to John Milton in the same year  which was the date of the poet's leaving Christ's Church, Cambridge, and taking up residence with his father in Horton, Buckinghamshire, he being then about 23 years of age. From that time down to the early part of the present century [19th] we have no record of the watch or its posessors, but that in 1819 it was bequeathed by the last surviving member of an old family in Baltimore in the United States, who had treasured it for some generations, to some old ladies residing near London, the bequest including also a number of coins of the reigns of Charles I & II, some medals of Fairfax and others, as well as a few rings, but nothing of a later date. The chest which contained all these relics safely arrived in London, and not long after was, with its contents, offered for sale to an eminent chronometer maker. The coins and medals being in an excellent state of preservation were soon disposed of at high prices, but the watch being only silver gilt, and steel faced, was considered to be of little value, and a few shillings only were allowed as a fair price for it. It was put into a drawer in its discoloured state and there remained until 1828, when for the first time the inscription on the face of it was discovered upon its being accidently cleaned up, and it was then presented to Sir Charles Fellows, well known for his connoisseurship in such matters, and as a collector of ancient timepieces. [Is it possible that the eminent chronometer maker was J.W. Benson?].
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number