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Antique Fusee Pocket Watch, by Adam Burdess. 1878.

Antique Fusee Pocket Watch, by Adam Burdess. 1878. High-Quality Silver Fusee Pocket Watch  by Coventry Maker Adam Burdess 1878 %%alt5%% %%alt6%%
A very high-quality, Victorian silver fusee pocket watch, by well-documented watchmaker Adam Burdess of Dover House, Holyhead Road, Coventry (then Warwickshire).

Born 1823 into a coal mining family, at Hetton, Durham, Burdess lived a very interesting life. By the time of his death on 14 August 1892 (aged 68), he had only become one of Coventry’s best-known and internationally respected watch manufacturers, but had also been a fireman, a pub landlord, a Patented watch mechanism inventor, a bicycle manufacturer, a prominent public figure in the City of Coventry, and generally, a well to do and very wealthy Gentleman.

Not much is known about Burdess in his early years, only that he had moved to London presumably to find work, and on 30 April 1849, he married Martha Pemberton (1824-1899) in Lambeth, London. On the 1851 census however, he is recorded as still being married to Martha, but by this date, the couple had moved to Castle Street in Banbury, Oxfordshire, and Burdess’ occupation was given as “Locomotive Fireman.”

By late 1855, Burdess had taken another significant change in career direction, now being listed as a ‘Publican’ in the heart of the Coventry’s watchmaking district of Spon Street, Spon End, Coventry, again with wife Martha. Perhaps this is where he gained the desire and appetite to become a watchmaker himself, because the next time we see Burdess mentioned in any formal records, was in 1860, when he was well on his way to becoming a famous and noted Coventry watchmaker. How and why, this happened we may never know, yet official records indicate that he was by then, qualified to do so and is listed as working and living from 19 Butts Lane, Coventry.

(NB: During the height of English watchmaking, the city of Coventry watchmaking community was widely regarded as not only the best in Britain, but quite probably, the best in the world {and certainly so, during the period c1850-c1900}, consistently producing fine watches to an exacting world class standard of engineering and craftmanship, and as highlighted, Burdess became one of the city’s finest!)

By mid-1865, Burdess had become a registered ‘watch manufacturer’, meaning that he owned a factory that was producing most (if not all) of the dozens of components needed to make pocket watches, “...employing several men and women to oversee the process.”

By 1869, (along with compatriots Edward Massey and John Viner), Burdess was associated with inventing and patenting the early ‘pump wind’ system of winding watches.

By 1871 (now 47 years old), Burdess had become one of the most successful and prominent watch manufacturers in the thriving horological community of Coventry. By now, he was also living, (with wife Martha and their only child, daughter Martha Jane), in one of city’s most affluent areas of the day, at Dover House, Holyhead Road, Coventry.

The 1881 census, lists Burdess as still living at Dover House, Holyhead Road, and states that daughter Martha Jane had married Arthur Townsend (a talented and local engineering graduate) in 1880, and both were living at this large property. (Note: Martha Jane and Arthur went on to have 4 x children together Arthur Jr, Frank, Evelyn, and Hilda, and Martha Jane passed away in May 1885, shortly after giving birth to Hilda).

In 1882, Burdess created 'Sterling Tricycles’, adopting many of the skills and techniques used in his watchmaking factory to produce such items. This business was placed in the hands of his now son-in-law Arthur Townsend, who must have impressed Burdess greatly, because the business became highly successful, their cycles being sold all over the UK and the British Empire.

In c1887, a now wealthy Burdess, (and possibly contemplating his retirement), placed his lucrative watch manufacturing business into partnership with his now widowed son-in-law Townsend, first trading as ‘Burdess & Townsend’ and by 1891 as ‘Burdess & Co.’ Burdess was still residing at Dover House at this time with wife Martha, but on 14 August 1892 he passed away peaceful there with Martha and Townsend at his bedside. He was 68 years old.

In his Will, his personal estate was left to wife Martha, valued at c£10k (or about £1.6m in today’s money), his shares in the watch manufacturing and cycle manufacturing businesses were divided between Martha and Arthur Townsend. Arthur (who never married again) purchased Martha’s remaining shares in 1893 and he continued to run both businesses successfully until his retirement in c1912, when he sold them both off to the then developing motor vehicle sectors in the city, (meaning Burdess pocket watches were never made again). Wife Martha had passed away in 1899 and Townsend, now a very wealthy man himself, retired to Marseille on the south coast of France, with his sister Lizi, and daughter Evelyn.

Hallmarked London 1878, the watch has gold hinges with a white enamelled dial and subsidiary seconds hand dial, (both retaining its original blued hands). The watch has a fabulous Burdess signed fusee movement, with compensated balance and ruby end stone. The case maker was John Hammon (IH) of York Street, Coventry), and the case and movement serial numbers are the same, “11468.”

The watch comes in an executive PU leather storage / display case with a winding key, together with instructions on how to wind and set the watch time.

Note: This watch does not come with a chain or fob. If you require a silver chain/fob from our large stock, please contact us for advice.
Please contact us for further information.
£350.00  UK
$442.86  USA
408.80  EU
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Date 1878  Victorian Antiques Material Silver Origin English Maker Burdess Item code as1070a146 / TWW/2244 Status For Sale

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Antique Fusee Pocket Watch, by Adam Burdess. 1878.
as1070a146 / TWW/2244



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