Discover a watch mystery with us as we take a step back in time

We’re taking a look at the story of an historian who took some time out so that he could investigate the history of one particular antique pocket watch.

pieces of time antique pocket watches

Eric Nolan, the historian in question, was soon to realise that his investigations weren’t going to go entirely like clockwork (pardon the pun).

Antiques collector Derek Marshall had previously asked Bygones readers for any information that might help in regards to a piece he had added to his collection, because it was inscribed with the words ‘J Dickinson and Bacup’, and he thought there may be more to this item.

The serial number of the movement puts the year of manufacture at 1881, by the American Waltham Watch Company and Mr Marshall put out an enquiry to see if anyone was in the know with the background and history of the watch in its hallmarked silver case.

Nolan’s thoughts straightaway revolved around whether those details that ticked all the boxes for it to have come from a Lancashire jeweller- a jewellers, owned by Jim Dickinson, who established a shop in Fleetwood in 1875. However, although other branches were later opened, there wasn’t one in Bacup.

He said: “I know that sometimes the owner would have his name and hometown inscribed on the inside of a pocket watch, or it’s a coincidence that there could have been a different Dickinson Watch Shop in Bacup back in 1881.”

“I do know, however, that John Joseph Bamber had a jewellers in Market Street, Bacup, at that time – his son Thomas Leo was my uncle – and it is possible that a customer called J Dickinson bought his pocket watch from there.”

Eric continued: “I remember an old watch repairer telling me that often with a gold pocket watch, the watch mechanism itself was not really that good a quality, even a Waltham, which would often be sent to England to have top quality good cases added.

“The value lay in the carotage of the gold of the case and the ‘Albert’, or chain.

“Each link in the chain would be stamped with the hallmark too, in case the owner needed to remove one or more, at some point, to sell to release some equity.”

Perhaps not the outcome Mr Nolan may have wanted, but an interesting look back at time indeed.

Image: Jeffrey Smith under creative commons.