A couple of weeks ago, I bought a Pocket Watch at auction made by my 4x great-grandfather, William Plaskett (1820 – 1912). This is the first watch I have managed to buy made by my family and I have been searching for about ten years although sadly I have always missed the auctions by a few days / weeks.
Coming across this auction was a big, big deal for me. I check the auction sites about every two weeks, sometimes a little longer during busy periods, this particular search showed a watch going on sale the following day. Sadly auction sites don’t often give people much notice of what lots will be available and items are often added with only a few days of a sale commencing.
So without wasting anytime, I signed up for online bidding.
The pocket watch was bundled together with two other silver pocket watches, one was by an unknown maker and the other was by A. Yewdell of Leeds. The valuation was only £30 – £50 due to their condition and also because they weren’t being sold in a specialist sale and pretty much lost between 2000 other various antique objects.
I was willing to pay much more, I had no reasonable limit and would have continued to press ‘BID’ until the other collectors gave up, in the end I paid £85 for all three. The two watches I don’t need I hope to fix and sell on at a later stage.
My families connection to watch and clock making spans almost 350 years. The last makers (my cousins) ‘Plaskett of Horchurch’ gave up their family business in the 1960/70’s and the earliest William Bowyer (1605 – 1653) is a well-respected and celebrated maker whose clocks today fetch a very high price. One of his clocks is now owned by the British Museum.
William Plaskett of London – Silver Pocket Watch.
William Plaskett was born about July 1820 in Portsea, Hampshire, England, his Baptism is recorded on the 3 August 1820 in St Mary’s Church, Portsea, Hampshire. He was the son of a clockmaker Reuben Plaskett (1775 – 1854) the family were living in the Portsmouth area for one reason in particular, to make the most out of a bad thing, The Napoleonic Wars (1803 – 1815). As both Wellington and Nelson’s troops would have needed time pieces, Ships Chronometers etc. The family moved away about six years after the wars had concluded.
The silver pocket watch above, has no maker’s inscription on the enamelled face but can be found inside the actual workings of the watch itself.
This particular example is an early piece by William Plaskett, the Silver Casing was made by John Osment of Exeter and is dated 1848, and has a London Silver Hallmark. I would guess that the time piece and casing was all put together roughly around the same time and was probably on sale about 1849 / 1850. Making this particular item 164 years old. After so many years It’s in need of some TLC and after Christmas it’s going to be restored.
I know it’s only an item, but I do wonder what journey it’s been on, the places it has visited and the owners it has had. It’s older enough to have witnessed the Crimean War, Jack the Ripper, most of the reign of Queen Victoria, World War One and Two and much more.
Holding this item in my hand for the first time was a very strange experience, it was once held / made by one of my ancestors and somehow it has survived the years and made its way back into the family.