Family Names

Sunday, 20 November 2016

My Grandfather’s American Waltham Watch Fob Watch

Walter Todman’s fob watch and seal have been handed down through my extended family. Due to word limitations, I will focus on the fob watch and only briefly mention the seal.

The Components of my Grandfather’s Fob Watch

Fob watches can be understood by examining the following components; the watch case, the watch movement (the face and clock components) and the accompanying accessories.

In the late 19th-century watch cases and movements were beginning to be made in standard sizes. This was a precursor to the wrist watch. When a customer bought a Fob Watch they could personalise it, choosing the case and movement separately, designing it to meet their personal needs.

The Watch Case

Closed Watch Case

Figure 1 Craig Todman, Front of Fob Watch, 2016, digital image
The watch has a metal cover that has a gold coloured finish.   The back cover is plain with a lightly indented pattern.  This pattern also forms the background on the front cover onto which is a stamped impression of a shield enclosed by a circle.  
Figure 2 Craig Todman, Engraved lettering close-up, 2016, digital image, cropped and enlarged
A close up inspection of the engraving on the front of the watch reveals the letters “W” and “T” over one another.  It appears that these letters were not part of the original design as they are in quite a different style.   The letters are thought to represent the original owner’s name – Walter Todman.

The inside of the Watch Case


The Double Hunter Pocket Watch Case can be opened from both the front, to read the time, and the back to access the mechanism.[1]  The double case helps to protect the mechanism and the watch face from dust and damage.[2]  They have a side winder at 3 o’clock. 

Figure 4 Craig Todman, inside back cover of fob watch
When the outer back is opened a new set of engraved initials “J.L.T.W.” are revealed. In contrast to the initials engraved on the front of the watch these initials are far more refined even though they are hidden from view. There has been much discussion within the family as to the significance of these initials to Walter Todman.  It is thought that Walter Todman adopted a new name soon after arriving in Australia. His birth name is thought to have been James Lincoln Temple Willoughby, which in part is supported by the initials in this watch.  

The only other markings on the watch are on the inside of the watch back cover which read, “Warranted 5 years. Orient 5648810”. I have not able to find anyone who can tell me the significance of these commercial markings. My theory is they could be the case maker or style and the serial number.

The Watch Mechanism / Movement 

Figure 5. Craig Todman, Watch Mechanism, 2016, digital image (annotated by Sandra Williamson)

Figure 6 . Craig Todman, Watch Face in case with side winder. 2016, digital image (annotated by Sandra Williamson)
My grandfather’s Fob Watch was made in America by the American Waltham Watch Company in Massachusetts. It is a size 14 manufactured in 1897. It is of "Bond St." Grade quality and has the serial number 8145946 marked on the inside.[3]  American Waltham Watch Company, Massachusetts USA was founded in 1850 and was one of the largest watch makers of the 19th Century.[4]   They were one of the first companies to mechanise the process of watch making.

Provenance 

The first owner of the watch is understood to have been Walter Todman, who died at the age of 63.[5]   How Walter  came to own the watch is unknown.  Walter arrived in Australia before 1890 and the watch was manufactured in 1897. It is not known if the watch was a gift from England or purchased in Australia.  The initials J.L.T.W. previously discussed may provide a clue. The working theory is that the J.L.T.W. lettering may have been engraved at the place of purchase, possibly England (where they knew him by this name), as the engraving looks professionally done. We know he changed his name once he arrived in Australia and the W.T lettering on the outside of the case appears to be more crudely done, therefore possibly done at a later date. 

On his death, the watch passed to Walter’s second son Lincoln James Todman.  Traditionally the watch would have been inherited by the eldest living son, Walter Victor. The family story goes that it was passed on to the second son because Walter Victor stole Lincoln’s watch and sold it for monetary benefit and so their mother gave it to Lincoln as a replacement.[6]   Lincoln Todman died suddenly at the age of 32 and the watch was destined to pass to Lincoln’s only son Warwick Todman.[7]   Warwick being only a child was unaware of the watches significance and took it apart to see how it worked.[8]  It was reassembled but has not worked since. It later passed onto the current owner Lincoln’s eldest son Craig Todman.[9]   

Fob Watches accessories 

1. The chain or ribbon  

Any anchoring chain or ribbon is no longer in existence.  
The only photo that the family have of Walter Todman wearing the watch does not easily show these items.  Unfortunately, there are no photos of Lincoln Todman the next owner wearing the watch.

Figure 7 unknown, Walter & Martha Todman, c.1926 taken at or close to the wedding of Arthur Atkinson & their daughter Martha “Ruby” Todman who were married on the 21st  August 1926

2. The Fob seal 

Lincoln Todman had two children his son, Warwick, inherited the watch and his daughter, Judith, inherited the fob seal which would have been worn on the watch chain or ribbon.[10]  The Fob Seal is currently in the possession of Judith’s eldest child (Lincoln’s granddaughter), Sandra. After interviewing family members no one knows anything about the history of the fob seal. It has no hallmarks or manufacture’s markings of any kind. One relative thought it was a Masonic symbol, however, after much investigation this theory has been largely dispelled.  What we do know is the blue tinge on the on the seal’s carnelian agate face is from a small child Diana Culley nee Taylor, trying to make an ink impression of the Roman Lion on the face.[11]  
Figure 8 Sandra Williamson, Fob Seal - front & side view, 2016, digital image

In Conclusion

As an item of jewellery the Fob watch and seal have both a decorative and utilitarian function.  As individual items they are not necessarily valuable but from a family history point of view, they are significant. They give clues to Walter Todman’s name change and are a physical link to past. As the two items, are now being handed down through separate lines, the writing up this article helps to link them together for future generations and aids in maintaining the integrity of the original fob and seal story.  

Sources

[1] "Types Of Pocket Watch Cases - Pocket Watch Emporium". 2016.Pocketwatchemporium.Com. Accessed July 8 2016. http://www.pocketwatchemporium.com/pocket-watch-cases/;  Douglas Stuart, Renaissance Watch Repair . 2016. "Pocketwatch 101 - How To Identify Pocket Watch Case Types".Pocketwatchrepair.Com. Accessed July 9 2016. http://www.pocketwatchrepair.com/how-to/identify-pocketwatch-cases.php 

[2]Waltham Watch Company Records. Baker Library, Harvard Business School. Waltham Watch Company records, 1854-1941 (inclusive), 1854-1929 (bulk) http://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/drs:14133434$2i  

[3] 2016. "Waltham Pocket Watch Information: Serial Number 8145946 (Grade Bd.St.)".Pocketwatchdatabase.Com. Accessed July 9 2016. https://pocketwatchdatabase.com/search/result/waltham/8145946/movement

[4] Waltham Watch Company. Waltham Watch Company records, 1854-1941 (inclusive), 1854-1929 (bulk): A Finding Aid (Mss:598 1854-1929) [Persistent ID: nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HBS.Baker.EAD:bak00120] View HOLLIS Record Baker Library, Harvard Business School

[5] Victorian Death Certificate, District of Prahran, Walter Todman, 1929/15938

[6] Andrea Buckley, in person discussion with author, 2 August 2016

[7] Victorian Death Certificate, District of Terang, Lincoln James Todman, 1938/15005

[8] Judith Williamson, in personal discussion with author, 30 July 2016

[9] Sandra Williamson, personal knowledge of author, 2016

[10] Sandra Williamson, personal knowledge of author, 2016

[11] Dianna Culley, telephone discussion with author, 1 August 2016

Images

Figure 1 Craig Todman, Front of Fob Watch, 2016, digital image

Figure 2 Craig Todman, Engraved lettering close-up, 2016, digital image, cropped and enlarged

Figure 3  Watches, Jewellery and Antique Nice. 2016. "Antique Avalon 12S 25 Year G.F. Double Hunter Case Pocket Watch Case Very Nice". Terapeak. Accessed July 28 2016. http://www.terapeak.com/worth/antique-avalon-12s-25-year-g-f-double-hunter-case-pocket-watch-case-very-nice/262018623797/.  (Annotated by Sandra Williamson)

Figure 4 Craig Todman, inside back cover of fob watch

Figure 5. Craig Todman, Watch Mechanism, 2016, digital image (annotated by Sandra Williamson)

Figure 6 . Craig Todman, Watch Face in case with side winder. 2016, digital image (annotated by Sandra Williamson)

Figure 7 unknown, Walter & Martha Todman, c.1926 taken at or close to the wedding of Arthur Atkinson & their daughter Martha “Ruby” Todman who were married on the 21st  August 1926
Figure 8 Sandra Williamson, Fob Seal - front & side view, 2016, digital image

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