Pocket watch in case, metal / glass / wood / leather / fabric, made or retailed by F Allerding and Son, London, England and Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1879-1920, used at Sydney Observatory, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
F. Allerding & Son were jewellers and scientific instrument retailers who operated from 25 Hunter Street in Sydney. Friederich Allerding had been operating a shop in Hunters street from as early as 1863 and around 1879 changed the name to incorporate his son Henry into the business. The firm's name was changed to Allerding F. & Co. around 1892 and Henry continued to operate the business into the early 1900s.
Allerding was obviously well regarded by the local scientists in Sydney as he was invited by H. C. Russell, the Government Astronomer, to participate in the observation of the 1874 Transit of Venus. Allerding viewed the transit from the back-yard of his Hunter Street business and this is recorded in Russell's book on the Transit observations. This books also refers to the fact that Allerding at this time was listed as a 'chronometer maker' although it appears more likely that he was a retailer of imported chronometers. This was not uncommon for the maker whose name is on the instrument typically organised for the parts to be brought together and supervised the final stages of its construction such as 'springing' or adjusting the mechanism.
Allerding, according to Tony Mercer's 'Chronometer Makers of the World', seems to have dealt almost exclusively in Kullberg chronometers between 1877 and 1884. This is backed up by the Official record of the Sydney International Exhibition of 1879 where Allerding, who provided Kullberg watches to the judges, is listed as being the Sydney agent for Mr. Kullberg. However the company also specialised in jewellery making and were commended for the quality of their work at the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879.
This watch seems to represent a combination of these two sides of the Allerding's business as it is likely that the parts and movements of the clock were imported while the adjustments and the case were completed by Allerding & Son. The watch is significant due to its relationship with Sydney's early scientific instrument makers.
Geoff Barker, Curatorial, February 2008
Davies, Alun, 'The Rise and decline of Chronometer Manufacturing', Antiquarian Horology, Number 3, Volume 12, 1980
Mercer, Tony, 'Chronometer Makers of the World', N.A.G. Press and Tony Mercer, 1991
New South Wales Government, Official record of the Sydney International Exhibition 1879, Thomas Richards, Government Printer, Sydney, 1881
Russell, H.C., Russell, H., C., Observations of the Transit of Venus, 9 December, 1874; made at Stations in New South Wales, Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1892
The watch was possibly made from parts imported from London, England by F Allerding and Son to sell in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia between 1880 and 1900..
Frederick Allerding & Son (act.1876-1923) was a prominent Sydney jewellery firm located in Hunter Street. At the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879 the firm was commended "for skilful workmanship and good quality of gold and shell jewellery".
Sydney Observatory Stock Number 1 and/or Sydney Observatory Stock Number 88 . Described as item 88 in a listing of Observatory stock prepared by Kerrie Dougherty in 1983.