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Pair-case Watch

Not on view

Pair-case Watch

Possibly: James Stokes (London, England, active 1770 - 1787)

Date: c. 1784
Medium: Silver, horn, enamel
61.9 x 49.2 x 30.2 mm
Markings: Movement: "Ja. Stokes, London, 3455" Inner case: cm cameo, "T(?)", London HM 1784
Credit Line: Proctor Collection, Thomas R. Proctor Watch Collection
Object number: PC. 325
Label Text
In the late eighteenth century, English watchmakers used horn on outer cases as a capable substitute for tortoiseshell. Horn was cut thinly for transparency and prepared in much the same manner as tortoiseshell (heated until soft, then molded or pressed into the desired shape). Prior to attaching it to a metal shell, horn watchcases could be underpainted.

Text Entries

English watchmakers used horn as a substitute for tortoiseshell for outer cases in the late eighteenth century. Horn, extracted from the upper part of the skull of either a stag or a cow, was cut very thin to make it transparent and prepared in much the same manner as tortoiseshell. First it Was heated until it became soft, and then it was molded or pressed into the desired shape. It was then underpainted with the chosen decorative motif prior to attaching it to a metal carcass with small studs.

When compared to other decorative Work on watches, the decoration on those covered with horn may not rate as great Works of art, but the painted scenes lend them special charm. Simple characters are portrayed, such as a sailor, a soldier, a lonely young Woman waiting for her beau, or, as on this watch, a horse and rider galloping in the countryside. The figures are executed in a stylized manner with ferns bordering the scene. In contrast to the outer case, the watchcase is plain silver.