»  The Virtual Attic — Grandad Derbyshire's Gold Watch


The only thing I own that can properly be called an heirloom is Grandad Derbyshire's gold watch, with fob and T-bar. The watch passed into my father's possession when Grandad died. Then, in 1976, Dad passed it to me. I was in the U.S.A. at the time. My boss, Tom Fitzhenry, visited England in the fall of that year, and at Dad's request, brought it back over to me.

I doubt the watch is worth much. It is of a type I have often seen in stores selling antique jewelry and timepieces. It is, however, indubitably made of gold — it's as heavy as a brick.

Here are some pictures and narrative.


Closed The fob is made of Welsh gold, which has a peculiar reddish tint. On the front of the fob is inscribed "O.B.C. 1908." On the back it has "Captain's Prize won by R.D. Derbyshire."

I think the "O.B.C." refers to a bowling club Grandad belonged to. "O" is presumably for "Oakengates." (That would be the old English open-air game of bowls, not American ten-pin bowling.) However, this is only a guess.
The face of the watch, showing also the fob, chain (technically called an "albert") and T-bar. The face is enamel.

The chain comes with a story. Dad understood that the watch and chain were to be left to him when Grandad died. Auntie Polly, however, had looked after Grandad for the last three or four years of his life, and apparently — and not unreasonably — thought she was entitled to a larger share of Grandad's property, such as it was. She had the watch chain made into jewelry. My father did get the watch, but the bad feeling caused by the chain incident lingered, and Dad did not speak to Polly for several years. He was a man who could nurse a grudge. I acquired a new chain sometime in the 1970s.
Closed Here is the back of the watch, opened, showing some of the works. The number 74431 is engraved here, and can just about be made out in the photograph. It also appears on the watch's inner frame
Same thing, but showing the two different hinged covers you have to lift to see the inner watch.

As well as the inscribed number 74431 on the inner watch, there are some faintly scratched jeweler's notes inside the inner back cover, apparently related to maintenance. There are also the usual goldsmith's stamps.