Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers' Marks
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Philibert Mathey ~ 1826

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The Trial of Philibert Mathey, Watch Case Maker
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Crime of Hallmark Deception/Gold Debasement
The Old Bailey ~ London ~ 26th October, 1826
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Philibert Mathey was indicted for that he on the 28th of June, feloniously did sell to Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy, a piece of wrought plate of gold, called a watch-case, with a certain mark thereon of a crown, with the figures 18 instead of the mark of the Lion-passant, made with a stamp (used in pursuance of the statute) made by the Company of Goldsmiths, in London, to mark gold-plate, made and wrought of the standard of 18 carats of fine gold in every pound weight troy, which mark had been then before transposed, and removed from a certain other piece of wrought plate of gold, called a watch-case, he knowing that the said mark had been transposed and removed thereon, from the said other piece of wrought plate of gold, called a watch-case, against the statute.
Four other Counts varying the manner of laying the charge.



TESTIMONY

MESSRS. ALLEY and LAW conducted the prosecution.


WILLIAM DIMES - I am one of the Assayers at Goldsmith's-hall. On the 11th of January, Frederick Humbert and the prisoner came there to enter their mark as partners - they signed their names, and their mark was F. H. and P. M.

Frederick Humbert & Philibert Mathey
18ct. Gold Watch Case, London 1826
©National Maritime Museum, London
- I saw them sign their names, and they brought this stamp with them, on which we make an impression, and return it to them; they keep it; and from that mark, we know the plate that comes from them - we never stamp any gold which comes without the manufacturer's stamp, but detain it - they also send two tickets, stating the weight and description of the articles they send, with their name and address.
To the best of my knowledge and belief, this receipt is the prisoner's writing.

Cross-examined by MR. ADOLPHUS. Q - Did you ever see him write, except when he put his name in the book?

WILLIAM DIMES - No; I stood by him at that time; I could not decide without a comparison - I have not received many tickets from him - I am in the habit of referring to his signature daily; I do not think I should be enabled to decide, that this is his writing without a comparison.

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JEREMIAH FULLER - I belong to Goldsmith's-hall. On the 23d of June, I received three gold-cases and two dials; they were two double-bottoms, one single case, and two dials - two tickets came with them - here is one of the tickets; the cases were marked with the prisoner's mark - two of the cases came in the morning; we take a receipt when they have any property back - here is the receipt we had that day.

Q - Have you communicated with the prisoner on his writing?

JEREMIAH FULLER - No; I have received these notes from him. On the 23d of June I weighed the plate sent to me, and delivered it to Mr. City, the market - he assayed them, and I delivered the cases to the prisoner's porter, who was in the continual habit of bringing things from him - on the 26th of June, I received two more cases by that porter, and Mr. City had them detained.

Cross-examined by MR. ADOLPHUS. Q - Did you ever see the prisoner in company with that porter?

JEREMIAH FULLER - No; I only knew him as bringing things, which he represented were the prisoner's.

COURT. Q - Did the porter bring plate, which had the prisoner's mark on it, to have the hall-mark put on it?

JEREMIAH FULLER - Yes.

Cross-examined by MR. ADOLPHUS. Q - Do you know whether that man was porter to any other house?

JEREMIAH FULLER - No; the stamp might have been in the possession of other persons - all I know is what that porter told me, and by the mark - the prisoner's mark was the only mark he brought.

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WILLIAM CITY - I am a drawer in the Assayer's-office, on the 23d of June I received from Mr. Fuller two double bottoms, one single case, and two dials; I drew them for the Assayer, and stamped them, and put several private marks on the wires and on the bottoms; I then gave them to Mr. Fuller, they had the initials of Mathey and Humbert on them. On the 26th I received one double-bottom case, and on examining it I found the wires of it had come on the 23d, but they had had other bottoms attached to them, they had got my private marks on them, and they were detained. I went with two officers to the prisoner's house, in Hyde-street, Bloomsbury, on the 27th of June; I found the prisoner there, dressed like the other men; I did not know him at that time; there was only one man there who had not his working dress on; I first asked for them to deliver up all the cases in the shop whatever state they were in. Some person in the shop showed me a tin box with several parts of watches in it, the prisoner was present, and conversed with me; I found in the tin box these three wires and these two loose bottoms, they have all my private mark on them, which I had put on them on the 23d - I then asked the prisoner to deliver up his books, and they were produced. I found in the book an entry of a watch-case sold to Mr. Vulliamy, in Pall-mall, and I said to the prisoner, "This is booked on the 28th, and this day is only the 27th," the prisoner said, "I know it, I have made that mistake;" he said he had sent it that morning to them, and had made that mistake. I then went to Mr. Vulliamy's, who was out of town - Mr. Thompson there produced to me a double-bottomed case, marked by the Company; the bottoms have got my private mark on them, but the wires have not. When those bottoms had come to me at the Hall, they had come in other wires, and I have not the smallest doubt that they had been transposed from them. I have compared the bottoms found at Vulliamy's with the wires found at the prisoner's, they have all got my private mark on them, and correspond exactly in all respects; here is a bill of parcels which Mr. Vulliamy delivered at the office - I have not said any thing to the prisoner about this bill; the outer bottom has the crown and F. No. 18 in the centre of it, on the left the leopard's head, and on the right the variable letter denoting the year, which in this case is an I, and over in the maker's private mark; the middle bottoms have a crown and 18, and over it the stamp of the maker; it is what is called a double-bottomed hunter; the bottoms have my private mark, but not the wires; the three wires which I did mark were all found at the prisoner's.

Cross-examined by MR. BRODRICK. Q. - When the cases are sent to you, are they in a complete state?

WILLIAM CITY - They have only to be polished; the cases always fit the watches before they come there to be marked; I know that is invariably the case from being brought up to the business. The prisoner is a foreigner; he speaks broken English; I saw him at the office the next day - I do not know that he has a brother there; I am sure it was the prisoner who spoke to me; I had some difficulty to understand him, but I am quite sure I did understand him; when I stated, "This is a mistake, this is entered the 28th, and this is but the 27th," his answer was, "I made a mistake." I will not swear positively whether he said, "The case has been sent to Mr. Vulliamy's," or "I have sent it." The rims are not in all cases marked with the hall-mark, but they are sometimes, they have my private mark on, which I cannot describe, because it would defeat my purpose, but it is such a mark as would not be removed by polishing, nor without destroying the case. When I went to the shop, the prisoner and three others were in their working dress, and one not in a working dress.

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ANDREW THOMPSON - I am foreman to Mr. Vulliamy, of Pall-mall; I have been there twelve years; during the life of Mr. Humbert my master dealt with him, then with the prisoner and him, and since his death with the prisoner only; I once saw the prisoner at work at Hyde-street, Bloomsbury; I have seen him there several times; I cannot tell when Mr. Humbert died; he left England several months ago, and I think has been dead about two months; I am certain he left England before June; I recollect Mr. City calling on me on the 27th of June; he asked for a case, I showed him one which I had received a bill of parcels with - this is the bill, I marked it at the time; I believe it is the prisoner's hand-writing, but I have never seen him write - I have received this hand-writing with things that came from his house.

COURT. Q - In the course of business you have dealt upon this hand-writing?

ANDREW THOMPSON - We have no occasion for any writing but bills of parcels - they were in this writing; I have no doubt whatever it came from the prisoner.

MR. LAW. Q - I believe you made some hesitation is delivering them, and you gave them up at the office?

ANDREW THOMPSON - Yes; I received the bill and the case from an errand-man, who is employed by us and by others; he has been employed in bringing work from the prisoner to us for about a month - I cannot identify the prisoner's work individually, but the case is made in the same way that we order work to be made by that house; though the errand-man had only brought work from the prisoner about a month, I had known him eighteen months, his name is Nicholas.

Cross-examined by MR. BRODRICK. Q. - You say this is similar work to what you have received from Humbert's house for ten years past?

ANDREW THOMPSON - No, the fashions vary, but it has been nearly similar to this for the last four or five years - it is such work as was made by Mr. Humbert's workmen before the prisoner came to this country; I cannot tell whose hand-writing this is; it might be made out by a clerk, but it is the same writing as comes from that house; the porter was employed by four other persons to my knowledge, and he might be by other persons; I took the case in myself from him, and partly opened it, and put it into a drawer; I can undertake to say that I showed the same case afterwards; three or four other persons might have access to the drawer, but I do not think they had; I put a watch into the case, and I could identify that better than the case. I did not particularly examine this case; I examined one that came with it; no person has any right to go to that drawer but Mr. Vulliamy and myself; I believe the case I took to the office was the one I showed to Mr. City, I believe so from finding it in the drawer where I put it after he looked at it; ever since the illness of Mr. Humbert, we have uniformly received bills in this hand-writing.

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GEORGE MILES - I am senior Assayer at Goldsmith's-hall, and have made assays of these bottoms and rings which came from Mr. Vullamy's; the rings are about 9s. or 10s. an ounce inferior to the bottoms.

The entry in the book and the bill of parcels were read as follows: "June 28th, No. 24, a hunting case, double bottom." - 12l. 18s.
COURT. Q - Not only the date, but the article and the amount correspond in the book and on the bill?

GEORGE MILES - Yes.
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WILLIAM REED - I am a constable of Hatton-garden. I was applied to from Goldsmith's-hall to go to the prisoner in Hyde-street; while we were taking him to the office he asked what he was taken for? I said, "I suppose you know more about it than we do, for we seldom have such things," he said, "For lowering gold?" I did not know the prisoner myself, but I believe he told his name to Mr. City.

Cross-examined by MR. BRODRICK. Q - He spoke in broken English?

WILLIAM REED - Yes; I will not swear he said, "Was it for lowering gold," or "I suppose it is for lowering gold;" he said, "What am I taken for;" I said,"You know more than we." and he said, "I suppose for lowering gold," or "for lowering gold."

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ANDREW LLOYD - I assisted in taking the prisoner - I found him in his working dress - he asked what he was taken for; Reed said, "You know more than we do;" he said, in broken English, "I suppose lowering gold;" he did not say, "Is it for lowering gold?" he said, "I suppose for lowering gold;" or "For lowering gold."

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The prisoner put in a written defense, stating, that the watch-case in question was never made by him; that he had been a good deal absent from his ship and left the management to a foreman, who had now left him, and could not be found.
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SAMUEL QUENDY - I was in the employ of Mr. Humbert, but since his death I have been employed by the prisoner - there was a workman in his shop of the name of Potex - he worked there three weeks, and left a day or two after the apprehension of the prisoner; the prisoner's brother, who is here, told me of an order for a watch-case coming from Mr. Vulliamy's; I do not know whether it was executed; accidents often happen in finishing cases: the workmen often correct them without the master's knowledge; the prisoner was out collecting bills just before his apprehension; it was near quarter-day, and he had been out for several days, very often from nine o'clock in the morning; if not then, he went at three o'clock, after dinner; he was not particular to the hour of returning - generally when he went out, he left orders with his brother, whose business was to melt the gold - he had a brother, named Justine Mathey - he was an apprentice - in consequence of his doing work imperfectly, it was often necessary to re-melt the gold.

COURT. Q - Do you mean to say that the prisoner did not work at the business himself, and wear a working-dress when at home?

SAMUEL QUENDY - No; he worked with his own hands.

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JUSTINE MATHEY - I am the prisoner's brother, and was employed as a workman by him. It was my department to melt the gold for cases; I remember the order for a gold watch-case for Mr. Vulliamy; I melted the gold on the 21st of June, and delivered it to Potex to make.

MR. LAW. Q - Did you deliver the gold bottom on the 27th, which had been stamped on the 23d?

JUSTINE MATHEY - I do not know; I do not know whether that was sent to be stamped on the 23d.

COURT. Q - Are the Goldsmith's-hall to be marked, unless they are finished?

JUSTINE MATHEY - No.
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JOSEPH FORRESTER - I live in Princes-street, Bridgewater-square, and am a watch-maker. I gave orders to the prisoner, about the 20th of June, for a gold watch-case to be enameled - it was for what we call a red enamel, and the gold ought to be of a high colour to take that enamel; I do not know that it was necessary to detach the rings from the case to make it of that colour; I saw a case at the prisoner's on the Saturday before he was apprehended; I understood it was the one made for me, but the rim was too pale; it was not of the colour for that enamel, and it was detached from the bottom; I saw it, but I never got my order from them; I never saw a case of that description before.

MR. LAW. Q - And what is there to prevent the rim and case being attached again?

JOSEPH FORRESTER - Nothing - they take the rim off and alter it, but I suppose it is put on again.

COURT. Q - I take it for granted you ordered the case of a particular description to have a red enamel?

JOSEPH FORRESTER - Yes; the rims I saw, I think had not been marked at the hall - the bottom had - there was a mark on the bottom.

END TESTIMONY

Verdict

GUILTY

The Prisoner, aged 22, was sentenced to 7 years transportation (Australia)

Third Middlesex Jury - Before Mr. Sergeant Arabin

Character Backgrounds and Order of Procedure

by Trevor Downes

The Cast:

William City - Drawer and skilled watchcase maker, he was apprenticed to Thomas Richards Senior of Bridgewater Square, London in 1795 as a "Gold and silver worker of watchcases". He went on to become 2nd Assayer to Jeremiah Fuller.

William Dimes - Probably the 3rd Assayer serving under George Miles.

Jeremiah Fuller - Son of Crispin Fuller (Grimwade 299,300), apprenticed to James Shallis (Grimwade 1850), granted Freedom in 1820, after starting as a Weigher at Goldsmiths Hall, he was appointed Drawer in 1822, 3rd Assayer in 1830 and then 1st or Senior Assayer in 1837 after the death of George Miles, he held the post until his retirement in 1863, aged 66.

George Miles - Appointed Senior Assayer in 1824, he had previously been apprenticed to Charles Halsey Johnson as a Refiner for two years, then to William Holmes (Grimwade 3161-2, 3176, 3526) he completed his apprenticeship in 1804 and unsuccessfully sought a position at Goldsmiths Hall. Undeterred he set up business in Clerkenwell, and in 1810 his wish was granted, when he was appointed 4th Drawer and in 1822 3rd Assayer. He died in 1837.

Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy - (1780 -1854) The grandson of the famous clockmaker Francois Justin Vulliamy who died in 1790. The Vulliamy's held the Royal Warrant for watch and clock making for three generations.

Joseph Forrester - An interesting character with a very chequered career, if the same Joseph Forrester, and I believe he is. Born in Dunbarney, a small village about four miles from Perth, Scotland on 12th April 1805, he was apprenticed, in 1820, as a silversmith, possibly to his uncle, the renowned Perth silversmith Robert Keay the elder. In 1829 he stood trial at the Old Bailey in London on a charge of Housebreaking, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. This sentence was commuted to transportion for life and he was sent to Van Diemans Land (Tasmania). He left England on 31st July 1829 along with another 157 male convicts aboard the ship "Thames" and arrived in Tasmania on 20th November 1829. On arrival he was sent to work for David Barclay, a silversmith who accepted assigned convicts into his Hobart workshops. Forrester became well respected for his work and some was retailed through Alexander Dick the Edinburgh born, Sydney silversmith and jeweller, who had himself been imprisoned on Norfolk Island from 1829-1834, for theft and may well have had sympathies for Forrester's predicament. On the 13th October 1840, Forrester made an application to marry a Mary Ann Sadler who was described as "Free" (not a convict) but the books showing whether this was granted have since been lost. Forrester received a conditional pardon in 1845 and left Tasmania and arrived in Victoria in 1846 where he worked for the retailer Charles Brentani. Many pieces of Forrester's work survive today and are in Australian museums and private collections and fetch high prices when they come onto the open market. He died c.1860.

Frederick Humbert - First entered his mark in partnership with Frederick Comtesse as Goldworkers at 34, King Street, Soho, London on 23rd December 1808. Six years later on 14th December 1814 he entered his mark alone as a Casemaker of 21, Hyde Street, Bloomsbury, London and on the 11th January 1826 he entered into his ill-fated partnership with Philibert Mathey as Casemakers at 20, Hyde Street, Bloomsbury. Humbert appears to have been successful whilst working on his own. According to Andrew Thompson, Vulliamy's foreman, Humbert had been supplying this famous firm for ten years, so it was probably his failing health that prompted his partnership with Mathey.

Philibert Mathey - First entered his mark on the 11th January 1826 in partnership with Frederick Humbert as Casemakers at 21, Hyde Street, Bloomsbury, London. He entered another mark alone at Goldsmiths Hall on the 5th November 1831, his address was 5 Easton Street, Spafields and another on the 7th December 1831 at the same address. His fourth and final mark was entered on the 7th April 1836 at 5 Baker Street, Clerkenwell. Bearing in mind the length of time after the trial awaiting transportation, the four month voyage to Australia and the return voyage, he was either pardoned very early or never transported at all.

Observations:

The actual charge against Philibert Mathey is somewhat confusing; the line "with the figure 18 instead of the mark of the lion passant", at this time only two standards of gold were legal - 18 and 22 carat, with 22 having the lion passant, the same as silver and the "Sun in Splendour" mark. The implication of this line was that Mathey had applied false marks to the piece, however this was never suggested by Goldsmiths Hall and the marks would have been correct had not substandard wires been applied.
The actual deception perpetrated was one of replacing the 18ct. gold bezels (wires) of the watch case with debased or less than 18ct. gold bezels after the official assay. A fraud of this type would have taken at least two people: Justine Mathey - the melter of the gold, and Potex - the maker of the case, but it seems highly unlikely that such an operation could have taken place in the workshop without the master's awareness and Philibert Mathey so much as admitted his knowledge of it on his arrest. Whether he was party to the fraud or not, Philibert as the registered maker was the responsible party.

In the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London there is a watch made by John Cross of Charterhouse Square. The 18ct. case to this watch (illustrated above), which is somewhat earlier than that of the workings, is Hallmarked for 1825/26 and was made by Frederick Humbert and Philibert Mathey, inside the case are many scratch marks, but two are possibly the secret marks of William City, the first D.CT. may stand for Dimes. CiTy. the second 12126 could simply be the date 12/01/1826, if so this would be one of the very first batch to be assayed by this partnership. We know from William City's evidence that he could tell the exact date of the assay from his secret mark.
Goldsmiths Hall procedures noted in the transcript

  • Mark entering - Both partners attend Goldsmiths Hall to sign their names in the register, they bring their maker's stamp with their initials and an impression is taken for the register and the stamp returned.
  • Items for assay are received at Goldsmiths Hall unfinished and stamped with maker's mark, they are accompanied with two tickets stating weight, description, name and address and signed for comparison with the register.
  • In addition to the official hallmarks struck, assayers sometimes added scratchmark notations.



Source:
The Whole Proceedings On the King's Commission of the Peace Oyer and Terminer,
and Gaol Delivery for the City of London,
and also the Gaol Delivery for the County of Middlesex.
Held at Justice-Hall, in the Old Bailey, On Wednesday the 26th of October, 1826
and following Days;
Being the Third Session in the Mayoralty of The Right Honourable John Thomas Thorp, Lord Mayor of the City of London.


Taken in Shorthand by H. Buckler
Basinghall Street
(By The Authority of the Corporation of the City of London,)
London:
Printed and Published, For H. Buckler, by T. Booth, 31, St. Andrew's Hill, Doctor's Commons
1826.
oldbaileyonline.org



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