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Pocket watch


c. 1760


Watchmaker, William Midelton (dates unknown)

Silver case maker, Richard Homesley (dates unknown)


2 1/2 in x 2 in x 1 1/8 in


Silver, glass, copper, brass, enamel

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation, gift of Barbara Nowland Allison

Accession Number



Four London hallmarks, including date letter “D” for 1759/60, are stamped into the inside back of the case.  The silversmith has been identi-fied as Richard Homesley, a specialist in silver watchcases.  “Wm Midelton 2285 / London” is engraved into the top-plate of the watch movement.

Condition Notes

Much of the movement is missing, including the mainspring, mainspring barrel, chain, balance, and balance bridge.  The winding arbor is bent.  The enameled dial is chipped at the "VI."


The pocket watch descended from William Corbit, to his son Daniel, to his daughter Louisa Corbit Corbit (1838-1901), to her daughter Eliza Naudain Corbit Lea (1861–1945), Louise Corbit Lea Nowland (1898-1989), to the donor.


Although American clockmakers routinely repaired, cleaned, and re-oiled watches, most watches in America were made by specialists in London, Geneva, and other European centers.  Watch parts in turn were supplied by individual specialists located throughout the neighborhood and countryside. Even the silver cases that held the watch movements were supplied by specialized silversmiths, as in this instance.

By the time this watch was made, watches had become more common in America but were still the realm of prosperous men and a few women. Assuming this one is the “watch” valued at $2 in William’s 1818 estate inventory, it raises the question of how and when he acquired it.  Because he was only a teenager when it was made, it was probably purchased originally by his father or perhaps one of his fathers-in-law from whom he could have acquired it.


Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 221-222.