PROPERTY OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY
The present lot is a well preserved and previously unrecorded example of the Charles Frodsham/J.P. Morgan Caliber Tourbillon watch. No.09682 is one of approximately 25 pieces that were commissioned by John Pierpont Morgan to be given as gifts. This particular piece was given to Thomas Cochran III (1871-1936) upon becoming a partner at the firms of J.P. Morgan & Co. and Drexel & Co. The full presentation inscription on the cuvette is particularly unusual. The detailed inscription differs from most others known Morgan watches, whereby the cuvette is simply engraved with J.P. Morgan's initials, the gift recipient and the year.
The firm’s tradition of purchasing pocket watches made by Charles Frodsham began in 1854 when Junius Morgan moved to London to set up his bank. Three generations of Morgans (Junius, J. Pierpont, and Jack) purchased approximately 50 Frodsham pocket watches for themselves and as gifts from 1854 until 1934. It became tradition in the Morgan family to present such fine timepieces to employees and partners to recognize their outstanding contributions to the business or to the Morgan family.
Nicole Nielsen & Co. produced a number of very fine tourbillon carriages for the great English watch and clockmaking firms of the period. Charles Frodsham, S. Smith & Son and Dent were all supplied with tourbillons as well as chronograph and repeating movements.
Thomas Cochran III was born in St. Paul, Minnesota to parents Thomas Cochran Jr. and his wife, Emilie (née Belden Walsh). After attending Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and graduating from Yale in 1894, Cochran quickly became a highly successful businessman by founding his own investment firm, Ardsley Hall Co. in 1904. Cochran became Vice President of the Astor Trust Co. in 1913 and immediately following Cochran became President of the Liberty National Bank of New York in 1914. However, his greatest professional achievement was becoming partner of J.P. Morgan & Co. and Drexel & Co. in 1917.
In addition to Cochran’s achievements in the financial world, he was also an active philanthropist. He was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Phillips Academy in 1923. He spent the next several years expanding the campus, both physically and academically. In particular, he funded the creation of the Addison Gallery of American Art and donated his personal collection of 50 Winslow Homer paintings to the school.
Today the Charles Frodsham Company in London continues to make first quality precision timekeepers. Receiving a Frodsham & Co. watch from the Morgan Family was one of the highest honors one could achieve. Only people with the utmost integrity and dedication would have received such a gift and the tradition continues at J.P.Morgan today.
For similar tourbillons by Charles Frodsham, see Meis, R., Das Tourbillon, 1986, p. 345 and Mercer, V., The Frodshams, 1981, p. 216
We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Charles Frodsham Co., Ltd., London for their cataloguing assistance of the present lot.
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