My great grandmother’s watch was bequeathed to me in the will of my Granny, Doris Gill.
I first became acquainted with the watch when it was handed to me to take along to the Antiques Roadshow in March 1996 -”you never know it might be worth something” said Granny.
Unfortunately Geoffrey Munn was not impressed with my offering and asked who on earth had decided to clean it? I said that I didn’t know. He pointed out that someone had cleaned so hard that the numerals had come off of the face thus limiting its value to approximately £100.
I dutifully reported back to Granny, whom I think was a little disappointed. However she soon recovered and sat me down and told me how it had been given to her mother Gertrude Harrison for her 21st birthday by her parents Eliza and Henry Harrison and so to her the watch was priceless.
It was at this point of the proceedings that Granny informed me that she would be leaving the watch to me in her will and asked if I wanted to know what else she had left me, I replied that “that was not my business Granny!” – she just laughed. Looking back she wanted me to understand and appreciate how important this watch was to her and that it was a precious link her mother and that this link was to be passed down to me.
I’ve recently done a little research into the watch as I had forgotten all the wise words Geoffrey had spoken. The watch was made by the French makers Guivre, in 18 carat gold. The case is marked with Mercury, the French export small guarantee hallmark. The case also bears the number 19170 which I believe indicates the case design.
Etched faintly on the inside rim of the case are a series of numbers ’26297 mk’ – I can only presume at the moment that this may be the mark of the watchmaker who assembled the watch or perhaps of the jeweller who sold the piece – who knows.
I’ve talked so much about my Granny in recent blogs that I feel I really ought to introduce her to you all properly – so with love I give you Doris Gill nee Star, my Granny.
These pencils are not so much jewels but instead represent a way of life which has largely disappeared – these are the elegant but practical jewels of bygone days.
As with a few of the objects included in this series these pencils were found in the belonginings of Ethel Star my Great Aunt and because of where and who last owned these items, there can only be two possible candidates.
These two ladies, I believe, would be either Agnes Downham or Eliza Hopkins – my 2 x great grandmothers on my mum’s side. They both came from comfortable backgrounds – Agnes from Chippenham and Eliza from Leighton Buzzard.
Agnes married George Henry Star and moved to Mansfield and as my Granny (Agnes’ granddaughter) remembered, “was not the sort of person who shouted her children in for tea – they had a bell for that”.
Eliza grew up in Leighton Buzzard and moved to Mansfield for reasons unknown - at this moment in time. Granny remembered that her grandmother’s front parlour was “like a palace” and that “no-one was allowed to sit down in there” unless “Granny [Eliza] was with you”.
The first mark shows that F. Webb of Birmingham was the maker; the Lion indicates that it is indeed sterling silver .925. The next mark is the date stamp indicating that the pencil was made in 1897; finally the anchor confirms that the pencil was manufactured in Birmingham.
The amazing thing about these pencils was that they still had lead in them – just think perhaps the last person to use these pencils was one of the ladies above.