Herbert Blockley, 41 Duke Street, London, Movement No. 2/1276, Case No. 702, 59 mm, 220 g, circa 1893
A historical interesting, fine and heavy dust proof expedition deck watch private property of the polar explorer Frederick George Jackson Case: solid silver, polished, screw back with engraving "The Jackson-Harmsworth Polar Expedition" and monogram "FGJ", case maker's punch mark "PW" (Philip Woodman & Sons, 33 Smith Street, Northampton Square, Clerkenwell), screw bezel and winding crown underneath screw protective cap secured by chain, leather sealing rings. Dial: enamel, radial Roman numerals, auxiliary seconds, 30h power reserve indicator, blued spade hands. Movm.: 2/3 plate movement, frosted, gilt, chain/fusee, signed "Herbert Blockley, succ(esso)r to Lund & Blockley, 41 Duke Street, St. James's, S.W. 2 / 1276" optionally keywind or crownwind, English lever escapement, large gold screw chronometer balance, freesprung balance spring, fine florally engraved balance cock, diamond endstone on balance, chatoned ruby endstones on lever and escape wheel.
This watch is also mentioned in Anthony Randall’s "The Time Museum Catalogue of Chronometers" on page 88: "Additional notes": ".....a similar watch , No. 2 / 1276 having the hallmark for 1893, bears the inscription on the case: 'The Jackson-Harmsworth Polar Expedition'".
Herbert Blockley was a star pupil at the British Horological Institute; he went into partnership with Major J.A. Lund as "Lund & Blockley" at 42 Pall Mall. J.A. Lund later opened a company "Lund & Blockley" in Bombay, India and Herbert Blockley continued the business in London on his own; he later moved to 41 Duke Street, St. James's. He specialized in deck watches for expeditions that had screwed dust- and waterproof cases; many of them were purchased by the Royal Geographical Society and loaned out to expedition leaders.
Frederick George Jackson (1860-1938) was born on March 6, 1860 in Coughton near Alcester in Warwickshire; he was the son of a farmer. In the gap time between graduating from college and beginning his studies in Edinburgh he spent some time at cattle stations in Australia and travelled to Greenland on the whaler "Erik". When Nansen visited the Royal Geographical Society in 1893 to discuss his upcoming North Pole expedition with the "Fram", Jackson applied to the Norwegian for a place in his team; however, Nansen refused because he wanted to be his team to have Norwegian members only. Jackson began to make plans for expeditions himself; he started out from Yugorkij Shar on his own initiative and explored the inner parts of Vaygach Island; he then travelled by reindeer sleigh from Arkhangelsk through the Russian Lapland to Vadsö, thus gaining valuable experience for his main expedition. The most important sponsor of this expedition was the publishing magnate Alfred Charles William Harmsworth - later 1st Viscount Northcliffe - (who owned the "Daily Mail" and "Evening News"); he contributed 5,000 pounds. Jackson was an excellent organizer and the team was equipped with all that was necessary; the expedition reached Cap Flora on the "Windward" under captain Schlosshauer at the end of August 1894 and was off to a good start.
Jackson had set up his research station "Elmwood" there. The foundations are still standing and amongst the debis of wood and metal one can still find the odd snowshoe left from the ponies that were used as pack and draught animals. After his initial delight at the meeting, Jackson felt rather ambivalent about it, as was his nature; Nansen’s rejection in London and the apprehension that Nansen’s success would somehow lessen the importance of his own expedition were the cause for his outright hostility towards the Norwegian. It is fascinating to think that Jackson carried our Blockley watch on him all the time, which was normal for expedition watches because of the temperature constancy. Incidentally Jackson left his camp well equipped, so that Andrée‘s Arctic balloon expedition in 1897 could have made good use of it, had he ever reached it.
Estimate 11,000 - 20,000 €
Price Realised 9,900 €
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