SOLD – The silver outer case by William Howard, Birmingham 1813, the lid activated via a push button, the open faced pocket watch with unsigned cream coloured dial, 44mm diameter, black Arabic numerals, gold coloured spade hands and chemin de fer chapter ring, the case, 46mm diameter, the reverse with a scene of an amorous couple in a state of undress, sitting on a stool between draped curtains, the signed front loading mechanical key wind fusée movement ornately engraved and numbered ‘Moore, Derby, No 2022’, with pierced and engraved balance cock.
Provenance: By repute – Originally owned by Claude de Benales (See the book ‘The Magnificent miner’), allegedly the richest man in Australia and thence by descent.
Footnote: The earliest erotic pocket watches date back to the 17th century when wealthy clients were offered the option of having a dial or caseback customised with a painting or an engraving. Portraiture was a popular style and it was common to request an image of a spouse or a lover to be painted on the back. Religious authorities in the watchmaking areas of Switzerland formed an alliance to seize and destroy such watches. As a result, watchmakers either decorated the interiors of pair cased watches or found a way to create a separate hinged caseback that concealed the image so that the watch appeared no different from any other.
The case, possibly a hybrid, the front being silver and the back of brass. Plastic covering to dial.
Erotic scene to reverse has areas ‘blurred’ purposley to avoid offence. Potential purchasers may email me to request full portrait scene.
The watch is in fine working order and has its winding key.
Ask the Dealer
I live in Lancashire (U.K.) and have been a dealer and collector of scientific and nautical instruments for a number of years. My stock has included some fine items from museums and colleges, which were surplus to their requirements. I occasionally purchase some interesting items from abroad, having established some reliable sources.