Friday, 18 December 2015

William Rogers of Liverpool

A very elegant complicated pocket watch by William Rogers of Liverpool is currently on sale in London.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s 

It is an 18ct yellow gold open-faced quarter repeater with calendar.  The three quarter gilt plate lever movement is numbered 3807.  It features a diamond endstone. There are subsidiary dials for: seconds; day; date; month. The hallmarks are for Chester, 1862.  The case maker's mark is GR, (probably George Roberts of Liverpool).  Diameter is 55 mm. 

It has a very unusual feature in its repeater mechanism – the speed with which the gongs are struck is adjustable by the user by means of a lever on the top plate. 

The watch is of an ambitious specification given that Rogers would have been just eighteen or nineteen at the time of its manufacture. 

Extant examples of watches by Rogers are hard to find – I have identified only three so far.  As to clocks – just one.  But what a one!  Sold by Bonhams in 2008 for £16,800, a very impressive quarter chiming skeleton clock – see https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/16226/lot/72/

William Rogers was born in 1842 and died in 1898.  Born in Liverpool, he grew up in Manchester, returning to Merseyside as an adult.  He was married to Ellen for over thirty years.  They had seven children – of these two were daughters and both died in childhood.  None of the sons seems to have followed William into the watchmaking trade. 

The family lived in the West Derby/Kensington area of Liverpool - in 1871 they were in Emlyn Street and by 1881 had moved to Boaler Street, (see photograph below):


 
(For an excellent selection of photographs of old Liverpool, please see: http://www.liverpoolpicturebook.com - source of all location photographs in this post).

By 1891, they had moved again, this time to no. 29 Kensington; the photograph, below is of no. 27, (in 1955):
 

Rogers had business premises at 19 Castle Street, Liverpool.  Other nineteenth century watchmakers based in Castle Street/South Castle Street included: Joseph Sewill, Owen Owens, John Moncas, John R Cameron, Henry Daniel, Simpson Samuell, Moses Chapman, Lewis Woolf, Richard Hornby.
 
 
The other two Rogers watches I have found are: 

#11312 - 18ct gold open face lever, hallmarked London 1881.  Jewelled gilt three quarter plate movement with bi-metal split compensation balance.  Subsidiary seconds dial.  Case also numbered 11312 with maker's mark JM, (possibly Joseph Moore).  Diameter 50 mm.  Movement signed William Rogers, 19 Castle Street, Liverpool.  Sold for £1,140 inc. premium, May 2010. 

#21026 - 18 ct gold half hunter table roller lever, hallmarked Chester 1874.  Gilt three quarter plate keyless movement with going barrel.  Compensation balance with freesprung blue steel overcoil hairspring. English table roller lever escapement, screwed in jewelling, escape and lever pivots with endstones.  Plain case with maker’s mark RO, (possibly Richard Oliver).  Diameter 56 mm. 

If you have details or a photograph of a William Rogers watch do please post a comment.

5 comments:

  1. Hi, I've got one, centre seconds chronograph!

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  2. Thanks for your comment John and apologies for not acknowledging sooner. Hope the watch is running well and pleasing you. A photograph and note of the movement number is always most welcome. Regards. David

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  3. I have just read an old comment of yours regarding Liverpool watchmaker, William Rogers. He is the father of a Great War artist I am researching. However the information I have about him does not match yours! My William Rogers was born in 1838 in Carnarvon, North Wales, but moved in Liverpool as a child. On the 1861 Census he is a 'Watchmaker Finisher employing two boys', but the 1871 Census describes him as a Civil Engineer. By 1881 he is back to being a Watch & Clockmaker and also in 1891. By 1901 he is retired. He lived at Barkfield Villas, Freshfields, Formby during the 1880s and also had premises in 9 Union Court, Castle Street. His business ran into difficulties in 1890 and a friend and local businessman, Reginald Bushell, became a Trustee in a Deed of Arrangement. I am aware of another William Rogers, clockmaker, with premises at 29 Kensington, but wondered if this might have been his son, William? It must have been very difficult with two people operating with the same name! Any other information or clarification you can offer would be much appreciated. I am actually researching William Rogers' son, Gilbert Rogers, who was a well-known portrait painter in Liverpool.

    Kind regards

    Sally Enzer

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  4. Thanks for your interest Sally, and good luck with your further researches. Looking at my notes, I see details of a census return for 1871 which records 'my' Rogers at that time as a watch finisher. So 'your' man is a different person altogether. This is further confirmed by the fact that I can't see any son of 'mine' with the name Gilbert. I'd like to be able to offer more insight, but I'm not close to this subject, having completed my research back in 2015. I too research and write on painting, so you certainly have my empathy - the usual vagaries of historic record keeping combined with the administrative capabilities of 'artistic types,' often make for very frustrating projects! Regards. David

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  5. Thanks so much for responding to my comment. It must have been mightily confusing with two William Rogers operating as watchmakers in the same city! 'My' William also had a son called William as I stated in my earlier message, but the dates don't add up there either. I love researching and Gilbert Rogers has been a fascinating subject but it can be very confusing and frustrating! Best regards - Sally

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