Thursday, October 24, 2019

"A Gladstone Bag Containing a Jemmy"

The adventure of Australian retailed pocket watches continues with another Swiss-made pocket watch from the early 1900s. Again, the white porcelain dial came with a label to guide me in the right direction. This unique timepiece reads: W. H. Pritchard, The Bridge Jeweller, Newtown.

After doing some digging, it turns out that this pocket watch is one we're glad to have stumbled upon, so here's what I have so far:

Newtown was established in 1812, and proclaimed a Municipality in 1862. It is a suburb of Sydney's inner west, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. The central hub of Newtown is King Street, which happens to be where W. H. Pritchard’s jewellery shop was located. According to the Newton Project,

“One of the smallest shops in Newtown at 318 1/2 King St. belonged to W. H. Pritchard, watchmaker and jeweller, who was Mayor in 1922. He was the ‘Jeweller with a reputation for Honest Values.’ His Carnival price in 1922 for a solid 9 ct. gold expanding watch wristlet was £4.”

As it turns out, Mr Pritchard was the Mayor during the Diamond Jubilee of Newtown. He was also a member of the Nationalists party and was “recommended for endorsement as the National candidate at the Federal elections.” The West Australian, Saturday 4th November 1922.
Pritchard’s Jeweller’s was broken into on 3rd May 1913, and thieves stole goods to the value of £89 7s 3d, including 23 gold rings, a pair of cuff-links, four watches, and 11 bangles.

“Three men were yesterday charged before the Newtown Police Court with breaking and entering the premises of Mr. W. H. Pritchard, jeweller, King-street, Newtown, between May 3 and 4, and stealing goods valued at £89 7s 3d. The men were George Dickson, alias M'llwain, 19; Arthur Kirby, alias James, 19; and Percy James, 23."

"Senior Sergeant O’Dea stated that in company with Sergeant Allen and Constable M’Knight, he arrested Dickson on Cleveland Street, and on searching him officers found 21 gold rings, a pair of sleeve-links, a lady's watch, and three bangles. When charged, accused said he picked the jewellery up in a lane off Cleveland Street. Kirby and James were arrested later. When the house In Cleveland Street In which Dickson and Kirby resided was searched the police found a Gladstone bag containing a jemmy. On searching James's room eight gold bangles, three watches, and two rings were found. Kirby told the police that his brother knew nothing about the robbery. The police said the jemmy found fitted the marks on the door of Pritchard's shop. The three accused reserved their defence, and were committed for trial."
Tuesday 27th May 1913, The Sydney Morning Herald
We are on a quest to find even more watch stories that begin with a porcelain dial. Although engraving metal would probably outlast anything, porcelain labels are another permanent way of preserving information. This porcelain dial has been washed and cleaned, and I could see that the name would not be washed away.

Porcelain is a medium to achieve immortality in this case. And here we find ourselves again, discovering the life of a man by his heirlooms left behind. Watches are rarely about the brand name, they are all about the story behind them.

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