Sterling Silver KENDAL & DENT English Lever Pocket Watch – 1889 Military Presentation – Drum Maj. Caslake, 1st Middx Engineer Vols & Artists’ Rifles
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Good quality sterling silver, English lever pocket watch manufactured in 1887 by the London watchmakers, Kendal & Dent. The watch was presented in 1889 to Albert Caslake, a Corporal of the 1st Middlesex Engineer Volunteers for winning the 2nd Battalion prize for Engineering. Caslake’s military service spanned no less than 41 years, 31 of those with the Artists’ Rifles, reaching the rank of Drum Major. (see biography below).
Solid sterling silver, open face case. To reveal the key hole for winding, the back opens on a sprung hinge by depressing a button set into the pendant. The inside is beautifully hand engraved with the inscription, “1st Mid’x Engineer Volunteers – Corporal A. Caslake – 1889 - 2nd Batt’n Prize – Engineering”. The case is stamped with a full English (Birmingham) sterling silver hallmark corresponding to the year 1887, with the case maker's mark, "R.B." (Robert Bragge trading as the English Watch Co.), and the serial number, “88639” (matching the movement number). The Movement is accessed by opening the hinged bezel, then unlocking the movement by depressing a sprung bolt at the 6 o'clock position. The movement can then be swung out on a hinge. The bezel is fitted with an acrylic u/b glass glass. Case diameter (not including pendant): 52mm. Case condition: 80%.
White enamel dial with subsidiary seconds. Black Roman numerals & blued steel hands. The hands are adjusted by fitting the key over the steel stud at their centre. Dial condition: 75% (tiny ‘nick’ out of the dial below the sub’ seconds at the 6 o’clock position).
Good quality, full plate English lever movement. Key wound (winds anti-clockwise). Movement signed (hand engraved), “Kendal & Dent, 106 Cheapside, London” Movement also engraved with the serial number, “88639” (matching case number). Balance cock beautifully hand engraved with an attractive foliate design. Fitted with a gilt brass movement dust cover with sliding blued steel locking device. Movement condition (appearance): 95%. Recently serviced. Time keeping: good.
The watch comes with its original key, a good quality protective velveteen pouch and a cd-rom disc containing a large quantity of records (68 scanned pages) relating to Albert Caslake’s life and military service.
Albert Caslake, the son of a blacksmith, was born at St Pancras, London in 1869 and was employed as an ‘art metal worker’. In 1884, at the age of 15, he enlisted into the 1st Middlesex Engineer Volunteers and continued to serve with them until 1890, having reached the rank of Corporal. In 1894, he re-enlisted into the 20th Middlesex (Artists') Rifle Volunteer Corps as a bugler. Following the formation of the Territorial Force on 1 April 1908, the 20th Middx (Artists’) R.V.C. became the 28th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles).
By the start of WW1, Caslake had reached the rank of Drum Major (Sergeant Drummer) and landed in France with the ‘Artists’ on 26 October 1914. Six months later, Albert received the news that his son, Albert Joseph, who was serving as a Sergeant in the Canadian Army (13th Bn Quebec Regt), had been killed in action while repelling a German attack at St Julien, near Ypres.
Albert continued to serve in France with the Artist’s Rifles until February 1918, when on leave in the UK he was taken ill and subsequently found to be no longer fit for overseas service. He then served the remainder of the war in Epping Forest, Essex with the ‘second line’ battalion (2/28th Bn Artists’ Rifles). In April 1919, he was discharged from the army being ‘surplus to military requirements’, but then, despite his advanced years (50 years old), he applied for special enlistment back into the Artists’ Rifles. Having received the following recommendation from the Colonel, he was accepted for further service: “A particularly smart man who has been in the regiment for many years & has brought the drum & fife band to a state of great efficiency. His services will be greatly missed & I hope that permission will be granted for his retention”. Albert continued to serve for another five years, when in November 1925, aged 56, he was finally discharged, having exceeded the age limit.
His army service had spanned 41 years, 31 of those serving with the Artists’ Rifles. During this time, he had been awarded the following medals, 1914 Star (with ‘Mons’ Clasp), British War Medal, Victory Medal, Volunteer Long Service Medal, Territorial Efficiency Medal (& Bar). Albert died at his home in Willesden, London in 1954, aged 85.
Inventory No. 692
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