Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Ticking Away

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way'

The words are the opening lyrics of Pink Floyd's 'Time', a song which remind us to make the most of life, as before we know it "time is gone, the song is over."

So I'm going to make the most of my time on this post to show a treasured timepiece I own. It's a pocket watch with a silver fob and chain. It belong to my grandfather, but unfortunately I don't have a picture of him wearing it. I do have one of his father wearing his own pocket watch on his wedding day. He seems to have continued the habit into later life as in the few pictures we have of him, there's a chain and fob visible.

Pocket watches like my great-grandfather's were actually developed in the 16th Century and remained common until wristwatches appeared around the time of the First World War. Waistcoats usually had a watch pocket and the chain would be threaded through the buttonholes and secured with a fastener to prevent it being dropped. The pendant was usually more decorative than practical, and sometimes carried the arms of a club or society.


My Granddad's watch is a 'Smiths Empire', probably from some time after the Second World War.This was when the British company Ingersoll, joined with Smiths Industries and Vickers Armstrong, in setting up the Anglo Celtic Company Ltd near Swansea in Wales. The first model featured the same movement as the earlier British Ingersolls and were branded Ingersoll Triumph and Smith Empire. The watch itself is in a chrome case and could be from the 50s or 60s. It has a comforting ticking sound. I love the fact that it declares "Made in Great Britain" both on the face and on the internal workings.


Pocket watches would appear in paintings in the seventeenth century to declare the wearer's privileged social status, as in the case of the noblewoman in the portrait above by Luigi Primo. They also found their way into still lifes, as in the lovely example by Jan van Kessel de Oude. In this case they served to remind the viewer of the fleeting nature of earthly pleasures...which is where I began with the Pink Floyd song.

So, if you have the time, make the most of it and see what others have made of the prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday.


26 comments:

  1. Hello Marilyn:
    What an interesting account you give here of pocket watches. Whereas some people seem endlessly fascinated by watches and have several which they wear, we have never been so keen and are rarely seen with one on our wrists. However, we do possess a 'half-hunter pocket watch belonging to a distant relative and, inspired by your post looked up what 'half-hunter' actually signified.We now realise it is all to do with the casing. Now, where did we put it?!!!

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  2. Very interesting post. Love the first photo of the gentleman - very dapper!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  3. Interesting post. I was surprised to see the noblewoman wearing the watch because I always associate the old watches with men.

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  4. Very interesting post, Sepia Saturday is a learning experience for me! I always wondered, when did the watch move from the pocket to the wrist?

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  5. Interesting facts about watches. You learn something new every day!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  6. Nice post, Nell. I particularly like the way you opened up with Pink Floyd and closed out with Jan van Kessel de Oude.

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  7. I have a picture of my great-grandfather with a pocket watch. He was a train conductor, so that watch was probably the most important thing he owned. I remember seeing a pocket watch among my grandfather's things, but I don't know what become of it.

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  8. Hi Nell ... that is so neat that you got to inherit your grandfather's watch. The picture of your handsome Great-Grandfather is awesome. He looks rather happy about the thought of being a married man. I like how you went with Pink Floyd too. I was thinking of Time Passages by Al Stewart, but I really don't know what I am going to do this week. I have used my stove pictures already!

    Thanks so much for stopping by to see me this morning.

    Kathy M.

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  9. A timely post. I have my grandfather's pocket watch too, a modern one he received as a gift in the 60s from my parents. I tried it just yesterday because all my wristwatches have dead batteries. Alas the spring is broken and it will no longer wind properly, and I'm not sure where I can get it repaired.

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  10. Mary Todd Lincoln had a wrist watch, which was effectively a watch on a bracelet, and it was very uncommon at the time. I love pocket watches myself and have several, one on a long chain I wear as a necklace.

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  11. My father had a pocket watch and chain; I wonder what happened to it. I have his gold wrist watch presented to him for long service in industry but it will not wind up and sits at the back of a drawer.

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  12. I do like a fob watch, what a pity there are no longer waistcoats being worn to carry them. How young your great grandfather looks in the photo, I'm intrigued by the use of the walking cane, a touch of the man about town.

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  13. What a wonderful poem to open with. The word fritter is so happy sounding really, and possibly could go well with all those who twitter! Ha! Ha! I do like the direction you took with time ticking away, very nice, and lovely photos too. Thanks possibly to you as well, but I finally got in at the Sepia Facebook! I shall see you there too! Enjoy your weekend!

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  14. Thank you for a lovely post - I learned quite a bit and will look at a family pocket watch in a new light.

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  15. What a handsome man your great grandfather was and you are so lucky to have this photograph of him. I liked the way you linked the different images. I would never have thought of looking at the old masters for examples of watches, but they are beautiful paintings. I recollect many years ago there was a brief fashion for watches on a pendant for women, to wear round the neck, but it did not seem to catch on.

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  16. Great post! How fun that you own your grandfather's pocket watch! What a treasure.

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  17. Your great grandfather was indeed a handsome man. I love the way pocket watches look. And what a handy way to tell time. Nobody wears watches much at all anymore. I guess people just tell time with their cell phones.
    I have never really noticed watches in old paintings before. Now I will be on the lookout. I love these examples.

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  18. I think it's fabulous that you own your grandfather's pocket watch. You don't mention whether it still keeps time but I sure hope it does.

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  19. I have my grandfather's pocket watch from when he worked on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and yet I have no photos of him with it.

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  20. I don't remember any of the menfolk of my family having a pocket watch but your picture of the noblewoman reminded me that my grandmother used to wear a fob watch, though she was far from being a noblewoman!

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  21. Nice post, I'm laughing because you are right, we did write about the same thing and both quoted the same thing from Wikipedia!!

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  22. What a treasure to have your grandfather's pocket watch. Nice photo of your great-grandfather wearing his watch. Enjoyed reading the history of the pocket watch. I don't recall seeing watches in paintings - that's an interesting fact.

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  23. Interesting post. I was surprised too, with the woman in the painting wearing a pocket watch. I thought they wore dainty little clocks on a necklace.
    Nancy

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  24. Interesting post, and what a treasure to have the pocket watch in your possession. I didn't know about the symbolism of a watch in a painting. Jo

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  25. I remember my father used a pocket watch sometimes. I enjoyed your story and beautiful pictures.

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  26. This is a lovely pocket watch. A lot of people would love to collect vintage and having a pocket watch like this can certainly add up to their collection. What other timepiece collections do you have? Keep us awed.

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