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Watches of the Elgin Almanac (1871-1876)

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Slides from the talk I gave to Chapter 5 (San Francisco) of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC). This talk explores the early watches made by the Elgin National Watch Company through the lens of their 1870s series of promotional almanacs.

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Watches of the Elgin Almanac (1871-1876)

  1. 1. The watches of the Elgin Almanac (1871-1876) Luis Casillas NAWCC Chapter 5 (San Francisco) May 11, 2014
  2. 2. What was Elgin? • One of the largest watch companies in America and the whole world. • Focused primarily on volume production, but made both low and high grade watches.
  3. 3. A very incomplete timeline Year Event 1864 Founding of the National Watch Company of Chicago, Illinois. 1865 Company renamed to just National Watch Company. Factory started in Elgin, IL. 1867 First watches completed. 1874 Renamed to Elgin National Watch Company. 1920s Largest watch factory in the world. 1964 Exited the watch industry.
  4. 4. What is the Elgin Almanac? • A series of yearly promotional almanacs that Elgin published from 1871 to 1876. • These contain: • Illustrations and descriptions of Elgin’s product lineup for each of these years. • Product announcements • Random fun stuff…
  5. 5. Why am I talking about this? • I’ve been putting together a collection of early Elgin watches based on the Almanacs. • I haven’t seen any clear accounts of: • What watches are shown in the Almanacs. • What variations these were made in. • Also, it’s fun. Lots of period flavor…
  6. 6. Methodology • I read a lot. • I systematically skim nearly all eBay listings for Elgin watches. • Also other websites (e.g., forums, online dealers), books, etc. • I write down every watch with serial number ≤ 600,000 in a spreadsheet, along with my descriptions and notes. • I have ±675 observations so far from just over a year of work. • I collect Elgin watches from this period and examine them.
  7. 7. Let’s first look at some typical early Elgin watches…
  8. 8. G.M. Wheeler! #169,590, c. 1874/75! “National Watch Co.” dial The key wind/key set G. M. Wheeler is most commonly seen Elgin men’s watch from this period.
  9. 9. Dedication:! “J.C. Richardson TO Simon Green May 17/1875” G.M. Wheeler! #169,590, c. 1874/75
  10. 10. G.M. Wheeler! #169,590, c. 1874/75
  11. 11. Lady Elgin! #937,471, c. 1881! “E.N.W.Co.” dial This is an 1881 watch, but the first of these were made in 1869.
  12. 12. Lady Elgin! #937,471, c. 1881! Key wind and set
  13. 13. Split ¾ plate construction Key wind and set 15 jewels, expansion balance
  14. 14. Barrel bridge shape Sharp Wavy The earliest 18 size Elgins had the “sharp” bridge; later ones used the “wavy” shape. I think the switch happened between 1875 and 1878, and not all at once.
  15. 15. Misleading References These diagrams (originally from Elgin’s 1915 parts catalog) are misleading. There are wavy bridge Model 1 watches, and sharp bridge Model 2-4 watches. (Also, the model/date table is wrong.)
  16. 16. Misleading References • The standard reference sources give inaccurate information about the watches I’ll talk about. • This includes: • The Price Guide • The various online serial number databases • Even some Elgin parts catalogs! (Earlier ones are more accurate about early watches.)
  17. 17. 1871 Elgin Almanac Scans by Wayne Schlitt
  18. 18. It’s an almanac… • Most of it is dedicated to: • Moon phases • Sun/moon rise/set times • But note the poems at the top of the page.
  19. 19. Lots of artwork…
  20. 20. Third-party advertisements…
  21. 21. Weird jokes
  22. 22. Promotional material
  23. 23. Correspondence with the Tongzhi Emperor about a watch gifted him by the company
  24. 24. Advertising jingles
  25. 25. Timezones did not exist yet No timezones = each city set its clocks by the sun. New York City is 5 minutes ahead of Philadelphia!
  26. 26. Same latitude = same rise and set times Timezones did not exist yet
  27. 27. 1871 Product Lineup Each Almanac shows Elgin’s product lineup for that year. This is what we’re most interested in!
  28. 28. 1871 Product Lineup (1/2) Name Description B.W. Raymond 18 size, 15 jewels with screwed settings, fast beat (18,000 bph), straight-line escapement, expansion balance, temperature adjustment. H.Z. Culver 18 size, 15 jewels with screwed settings, fast beat, straight- line escapement, expansion balance. Lady Elgin 10 size, 15 jewels, fast beat, straight-line escapement, expansion balance. H.H. Taylor 18 size,15 jewels with screwed settings, expansion balance. G.M. Wheeler 18 size, 11 jewels with screwed settings, expansion balance. Mat. Laflin 18 size, 7 jewels, expansion balance. All 1871 watches were key wind/key set.
  29. 29. 1871 Product Lineup (2/2) Name Description W.H. Ferry 18 size, 15 jewels with screwed settings, solid balance. M.D. Ogden 18 size, 11 jewels, fake expansion balance. J. V. Farwell 18 size, 11 jewels, solid balance. Chas. Fargo 18 size, 7 jewels, solid balance (1871 Almanac) 18 size, 7 jewels, fake expansion balance (1872 and later) J.T. Ryerson 18 size, 7 jewels, solid balance. All 1871 watches were key wind/key set.
  30. 30. Features: slow vs. fast beat • How quickly the watch ticks. Faster is better. • Most of the lineup ticked at 16,200 beats per hour. • The higher-end men’s and all the ladies’ watches ticked at 18,000 beats per hour. • The B.W. Raymond was America’s fastest- ticking watch at its introduction (1867). • Today the standard is 28,800 bph.
  31. 31. • Used in Elgin’s cheapest watches of this period. • 92° F runs ±5 minutes/day slower than 32° F! Solid balance wheel
  32. 32. Solution: bimetallic strip When you connect or fuse two materials with different coefficients of expansion, the strip will curl under heat. Graphic from Wikipedia
  33. 33. Expansion balance wheel • Notice the cuts near the center arm. • Those ends curl inwards when temperature rises. • The screws are moved to adjust the temperature vs. weight distribution curve. • Note the fat heads. They are for mass. Photo from Wikipedia
  34. 34. Fake expansion balance No cut! Elgin M.D. Ogden #153,952, c. 1873 Bimetallic construction + screws, but no cut on rim. Makes your watch look fancier than it really is.
  35. 35. Modern Watches • Modern watches (1930+) use special, temperature- insensitive alloys for their hairsprings. • Expansion balances disappeared starting about 1930. Photo from Wikipedia
  36. 36. Features: watch jewels • Polished jewels have very low-friction surfaces. • Pierced jewels make excellent bearings for the wheels’ pivots. • More expensive watches had more jewels. • Cheap synthetic rubies weren’t mass-produced until 1903. Red: jewel Gray: metal Yellow: oil Graphic from Wikipedia
  37. 37. 7 Jewel Watch Mat. Laflin #11,051 c. 1868 4 jewels (2 each side) Not Jeweled Not Jeweled Three more jewels in the escapement Seven jewels is the basic assortment to make sure the “heart” of the watch (balance and escapement) works optimally.
  38. 38. 15 Jewel Watch B.W. Raymond #758, c. 1867 4 jewels (two each side) 2 jewels each (one each side) 2 jewels each (one each side) The extra jewels reduce friction in the gear train. Makes it easier to make the watch more precise (but doesn’t guarantee it!)
  39. 39. 11 Jewel Watch G.M. Wheeler #10,357, c. 1868 4 jewels (two each side) 1 jewel each (none other side) 1 jewel each (none other side) Three more jewels in the escapement An 11 jewel watch is one that is made to look like it has 15 jewels, but omits the 4 counterpart jewels on the dial side. ! Again, this just makes the watch look more expensive.
  40. 40. Jewel counts in the 1870s • Very few watches in the 1870s (and 1880s) had more than 15 jewels. • A 15 jewel watch was said to be “fully jeweled.” • It wasn’t until the 1890s that 17+ jewel watches became commonplace.
  41. 41. Straight-line escapement • Used in Elgin’s higher grade men’s watches, and the ladies’ watches. • Also known as “Swiss lever.” • Used almost universally since the 1920s. Thank you again, Wikipedia
  42. 42. Right angle escapement • Older design, typical of English watches. • Most early Elgins had this. Exceptions: • B.W. Raymond • H.Z. Culver • The ladies’ key wind watches From Cutmore (1985)
  43. 43. Right angle vs. straight line escapement The balance, pallet fork and escape wheel pivots are in a straight line. The banking pins are between the pallet fork and fourth wheel pivots. The balance, pallet and escape wheel holes form a right angle. The banking pins are outside of the angle formed by the pivots.
  44. 44. Other construction details • There were other construction differences between Elgin’s various watches of this period. • All the watches were made from the same basic design, but the better watches used better quality parts. • The precise details are harder to determine.
  45. 45. Classifying Elgin’s 1871 movements • This is not entirely serious: • The original ones • The Lady Elgin • The “poseurs”
  46. 46. The Original Ones Name Description B.W. Raymond 18 size, 15 jewels with screwed settings, fast beat (18,000 bph), straight-line escapement, expansion balance, temperature adjustment. H.Z. Culver 18 size, 15 jewels with screwed settings, fast beat, straight- line escapement, expansion balance. H.H. Taylor 18 size,15 jewels with screwed settings, expansion balance. G.M. Wheeler 18 size, 11 jewels with screwed settings, expansion balance. Mat. Laflin 18 size, 7 jewels, expansion balance. J.T. Ryerson 18 size, 7 jewels, solid balance. These are the first six watches Elgin made (1867-68).
  47. 47. Who were these people? • A combination of: • Large investors in the company; • Members of the board of directors; • Company executives.
  48. 48. • Benjamin Wright Raymond • Second Mayor of Chicago • President of the Fox River Railroad, which connected Elgin to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin • Elgin’s founder, first investor and first President. Who were these people?
  49. 49. Who were these people? • Howard Zoroaster Culver, George M. Wheeler • Associates of Raymond • Members of the initial group of investors
  50. 50. Who were these people? • Matthew Laflin, John T. Ryerson: • Made very important investments on the company in 1867. • Their families were to become the company’s largest shareholders for most of its history.
  51. 51. The Lady Elgin • First made in 1869 (Crossman, Abbott). • Pretty good movement: • 18,000 bph • Straight-line escapement • Expansion balance • 15 jewels
  52. 52. The “poseurs” Name Description W.H. Ferry 18 size, 15 jewels with screwed settings, solid balance. M.D. Ogden 18 size, 11 jewels, fake expansion balance. J. V. Farwell 18 size, 11 jewels, solid balance. Chas. Fargo 18 size, 7 jewels, solid balance (1871 Almanac) 18 size, 7 jewels, fake expansion balance (1872 and later) None has an expansion balance, yet all have some “fancy” feature. I hope I didn’t insult nobody’s great-great-great-great-granddaddy’s watch…
  53. 53. Note: exceptions exist! Elgin M.D. Ogden, #153,952 Fake expansion balance 4 train jewels on top plate (11 total?) Elgin M.D. Ogden, #314,384 True expansion balance 2 train jewels on top plate (11 total?)
  54. 54. Who were these people? • Mahlon Dickerson Ogden: • “There was a Mahlon D. Ogden, a ‘millionaire real estate developer’ whose house survived the Chicago fire of 1871. […] Another reference described Mahlon as the brother of William B. Ogden. William was the first mayor of Chicago and the founder of the Galena and Chicago Railroad.” — Ron Birchall, NAWCC forum • Mahlon Dickerson Ogden (rootsweb)
  55. 55. Who where these people? • Chas. Fargo: • One of Elgin’s directors (Crossman 1885-87). • Likely Charles Fargo, Vice President and General Manager of the Western Department of American Express. • Relative of William George Fargo, cofounder of both American Express and Wells Fargo.
  56. 56. Who were these people? • William Henry Ferry (1819-1880) was an American politician from New York. • New York State Senate (19th D.,1860 and 1861). • Director at the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad. • Also one of Elgin’s directors. • Apparently father-in-law to Charles Knapp Giles, brother of Frederick Asa Giles (founder of US Watch Co. of Marion, NJ).
  57. 57. 1872-74 lineup, page 1 of 2
  58. 58. 1872-74 lineup, page 2 of 2
  59. 59. 1872: new ladies’ watches Name Description Frances Rubie 15 jewels, adjusted Lady Elgin (1871) 15 jewels Gail Borden 11 jewels Dexter St. 7 jewels All the ladies’ watches were quick beat and had expansion balances and straight-line escapements.
  60. 60. What’s up with those names? • I haven’t heard any explanation at all for the name “Frances Rubie.” • Gail Borden was an Elgin investor. • He was also the founder of Borden Foods. • He also had a condensed milk factory in Elgin. • There’s currently no “Dexter St.” in Elgin, but Elgin City Hall is at 150 Dexter Ct., at the end of Dexter Ave.
  61. 61. Frances Rubie! #50,334! c. 1871-1874! Single sunk dial! “E.N.W.Co.”! Fleur-de-lys hands These also came with double sunk dials. Earlier watches have a “N.W.Co.” monogram; not clear if I got the original dial 😑.
  62. 62. Frances Rubie! #50,334, c. 1871-1874! 15 jewels! Expansion balance! Adjusted Note “Moseley’s Patent” on balance cock; this is common in Elgin’s earliest ladies’ watches. ! Later ones have “Patent Stud” or just “Patent.”
  63. 63. Gail Borden! #189,594, 1872-73! 11 jewels, “N.W.Co.” dial
  64. 64. Elgin 10 size dials, pre- and post-1874 “N.W.Co.” (1869-1874) “E.N.W.Co.” (1874+) Gail Borden, #189,594 Frances Rubie, #50,334
  65. 65. When I first saw this difference, I thought it was an error by the illustrators… Straight vs. “cutout” plate
  66. 66. Straight vs. “cutout” bridge But Nigel Harrison on the NAWCC message board noticed that a “straight plate” Gail Borden exists. (Open question: was there a “straight” Dexter St.?) Gail Borden! #185,018 Gail Borden! #189,594
  67. 67. B.W. Raymond, 1871 vs. 1872 18721871 1872 depicts two variants: • Adjusted + patent regulator • Plain (no “Adjusted” mark)
  68. 68. B.W. Raymond variants 1872 1871 f th v nt r pr nt d d r t ll p l tt nt n t th t r d f th "B. . R nd" v nt, l t th " H. Z. l v r" nd " H. H. T l r" dj t d. P rt l r tt nt n v n n th n f t r f th v nt t th r dj t nt nd r l t n, nd t b l v d th t th r , th t x pt n, th b t f ll pl t t h d n th ntr Th h v b n bj t d t v r n n t t n th r p n l nd nd t r, p n th r l nd n h p , nd r lt th r n t d , th th d l r h h v ld th , nd th p r h r h r r n th , n th f n t t p r n th r t. T t n l ld b pr nt d fr h ndr d f d nt r t d d l r , nd fr th nd f l d n t z n , t th tr th f th b v , f n d r d n r . T r lr d n, h b n d r n t th t h t r l bl f r th r , ld th t th l n t h r p r h d b th P nn lv n R lr d ., nd pl d n th h nd f th r n n r p rt f th r n n p nt. l , h v nt r pr nt d r t ll p l tt nt n t th r d f th "B. . R nd" v nt, l t th " H. Z. l nd " H. H. T l r" dj t P rt l r tt nt n v n n n f t r f th v nt h r dj t nt nd r l t n, t b l v d th t th r , th x pt n, th b t f ll pl t h d n th ntr Th b n bj t d t v r n n n th r p n l nd nd t r, n th r l nd n h p , nd lt th r n t d , th th d l 1875 But according to my database, the Almanacs do not depict an accurate sequence of Raymond variants. In real life, #3 appears at the same time as #2, and #1 is no longer made after that. 1 2 1 3 2
  69. 69. B.W. Raymond! #758, c. 1867! Single sunk dial! “National Watch Co.” Coin silver hunter case Fleur-de-lys hands 18 size (45mm dial)
  70. 70. B.W. Raymond! #758 (c. 1867)! “Plain” variant! Fancy script “Extra Fancy” Signature Burt’s Patent! (very early)
  71. 71. “Extra fancy cursive” Early B.W. Raymond watches (serial # under ±35,000) “Fancy cursive” Other early watches (serial # under ±56,000) Barrel bridge script
  72. 72. “Regular cursive” “Print” M.D. Ogden & Chas. Fargo Barrel bridge script
  73. 73. B.W. Raymond! #260,878 (c. 1874)! Double sunk dial! “Elgin Nat’l Watch Co.”! Coin silver case! 18 size (45mm dial) The company changed its name in May 1874 from “National Watch Company” to “Elgin National Watch Company.” The dials changed accordingly. ! Fleur-de-lys hands are very common on B.W. Raymond watches as late as the 1890s. (Also on Frances Rubie.)
  74. 74. B.W. Raymond! #260,878 (c. 1874)! “Adjusted” mark! No Patent Regulator Regular! Cursive Patent Pinion! mark “Adjusted”! c. 1872+! #128,xxx+
  75. 75. B.W. Raymond! #182,499 (c. 1873)! Double sunk dial! “National Watch Co.” • The B.W. Raymond came in four dial variants: 1. Single sunk, “National” 2. Double sunk, “National” 3. Single sunk, “Elgin” 4. Double sunk, “Elgin” • This double sunk National dial isn’t super common. • There are also the famous Pennsylvania Railroad dials (very collectible, hella $$$). • The only other Almanac watch with double sunk dials is the Frances Rubie.
  76. 76. Patent Regulator! c. 1872+ (#128,xxx+) “Adjusted” B.W. Raymond! #182,499 (c. 1873)! “Adjusted” mark! Patent Regulator Patent! Pinion! mark • In the very earliest patent regulator Raymond watches (c. 128,xxx), the “Patent Pinion” mark was further away from the center, so that the regulator covers part of it.
  77. 77. “Patent Regulator” • The common term in American watches for a micrometric regulator. • A device that allows setting the regulator more finely and precisely. • Every American watch company had their own version of this, hence they all boasted of having “patent” regulators.
  78. 78. C. S. MOSELEY & G. HUNTER. _ Watch-Regulators. N0_157,02l, Patented Nov.17,1874~ Moseley/Hunter regulator In spite of the Nov. 1874 grant date, Elgin was selling these as early as 1872. (The application date is not on the patent.)
  79. 79. 1872: Adjusted variants of H.Z. Culver and H.H. Taylor • These key-wind movements were now made in two variants, one with more careful adjustment. • The mark is easily attested by observing watches. • It’s not clear what the specs were for adjusted versions, but not very high; probably no more than 3 positions.
  80. 80. 1872: Adjusted variants of H.Z. Culver and H.H. Taylor H.Z. Culver, #170,233 H.Z. Culver, #174,403, Adjusted
  81. 81. 1872: Chas. Fargo “upgrade” 1871 1872 Diagram changed from solid balance to bimetallic. Depicted with jeweled holes as well?
  82. 82. 1872: Chas. Fargo “upgrade” Chas. Fargo #103,026 Solid balance,1871 or earlier ≤ 3,000 made (my estimate) Chas. Fargo #281,640 Fake expansion balance,1872 or later ≤ 67,000 made?
  83. 83. 1872: No more J.V. Farwell • Not very many of these were made (≤ 3,000?) J.V. Farwell, #111,029 (c. 1871)
  84. 84. 1873 Almanac • Same lineup as the 1872 edition. • Same illustrations and same text.
  85. 85. 1874: first editorial from the company
  86. 86. 1874 Almanac • The editorial announces Elgin’s first production stem wind watches. • But still key set! • Movement illustrations identical to 1872/73.
  87. 87. Under-dial view and comparison to patent illustration illllllllllll“ WiTNE55E5=‘Q',INVENTU ,%7a46%¢ZZZ/MwrvI ,//.)j_,cvmawr,a UNITED STATES CHARLES S. MOSELEY, OF ELGIN, ILLINOIS, ASSIGNOR OF ONE-TENTH HIS PATENT OFFIov. RIGHT TO THE NATIONAL WATCH COMPANY, OF SAME PLACE. IMPROVEMENT IN STEM-WINDING WATCHES. Speci?cation forming part of Letters Patent N0. 161,262, dated March 23, 1875; application ?led April 18, 1874. To all whom it may concern . Be it known that I, CHAS. S. MosELEY, of Elgin, in the county of Kane and in the State of Illinois, have invented certain new and use: ful Improvements in Stem-“?nding Attach ments for Watches ; and do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description thereof, reference being had to the accompanying drawings, making a part of this speci?cation, in which-— ‘ Figure 1 is a plan view of the face side of a watch-movement containing my improved winding mechanism. Fig. 2 is a like view of the opposite or back side of the same. Figs. 3 and 4 are sections upon lines a; a; and z 2, respectively, of Fig. 1. Figs. 5 and 6 are per spective views of the upper and lower sides, respectively, of the bridge of the stem-wind ing train. Fig. 7 is a plan view of the inner faces of the sections which compose said bridge. Fig. 8 is a perspective view of the stem, its bevel'pinion, and the bearing for its inner end. Fig. 9 is a perspective view of the back side of the main gear, with the spring friction-ring in place. Fig. 10 is a like view of said parts separated from each other. Fig. 11 is a, perspective view of the face side of said main gear. Fig. 12 is a like view of the same, with its central and outer portions sep arated. Fig. 13 is an enlarged central sec tion of said gear, and Fig. 111 is a perspective view of the vibrating arm or bearing-plate of the intermediate pinion. Letters of like name and kind refer to like parts in each of the ?gures. . My invention is an improvement in a class of watches in which the mainspring is coiled or wound by the rotation of the stem; and it 0011 sists, principally, in the combined miter and spur wheels, constructed in the manner and for the purpose substantialy as is hereinafter speci?ed. It consists,‘ further, in the means employed for connecting the vibrating arm, which carries the intermediate pinion, to or with the main or driving gear, substantially as and for the purpose hereinafter shown. It consists, further, in the construction of the bridge which carries the winding-train, sub stantially as and for the purpose hereinafter set forth. It consists, further, in the con~ struction of the driving-pinion, and its com bination with the bridge and stem or push-pin, substantially as and for the purpose herein after shown and described. In the annexed drawings, A and A’ repre sent the sections of a bridge, which have each ageneral semicircular shape, and are connected together by means of dowel-pins and screws, in the usual manner. Within thecontiguous sides of the sections A and A’ is formed a cylindrical opening, a, that extends from the outer edge of the bridge inward to or near the center of the circle upon which said edge is formed, and at a suitable point between the ends of said opening is provided an enlarge ment, at’, that has such radial dimensions as to cause it to extend entirely through said sections. Within the opening or bearing a is placed a cannon-pinion, C, the barrel of which rests within and ?lls the outer portion of said opening, while the toothed portion 0, at the inner end of said pinion, is contained within the enlargement to’. The opening within the outer portion of the pinion-barrel is square, and receives the correspondingly-shaped end at of a push-pin or stem, D, while within the opposite end of said pinion-barrel the open ing is round, and contains one end of a pin, E, the opposite end of which ?ts into and closely ?lls the inner end of the bearing a. As thus arranged, the outer portion of the bearing a and the outer end of the pin E fur nish bearings, within and upon which the pin ion C revolves freely, while, by means of a shoulder, e, formed upon said pin E, against which the inner end of said pinion bears, and the contact of the outer side of the toothed portion 0 with the corresponding side of the enlargement a’, the longitudinal position of said pinion is insured. Upon the outer face of the section A is formed a round boss, A”, that corresponds to and ?lls a recess, f, that is provided within one face of a bevel-gear wheel, F, which wheel is pivoted thereon, and held in position by means of a screw, f’, that passes through its center into the center of said boss, so as to enable its teeth to mesh with the teeth of the pinion O. H.H. Taylor! Stem wind/key set! #155,399, 1873-1874! Fewer than 650 made?
  88. 88. Stem wind/key set H.Z. Culver! #235,104, 1873 Only made for about a year; fewer than 450? Photos courtesy of Jones & Horan Auction Team
  89. 89. Almanac watches with stemwinding versions • B.W. Raymond (Adjusted, pat. reg) • H.Z. Culver (Adjusted) • H.H. Taylor (Adjusted)
 • G.M. Wheeler • Mat. Laflin • M.D. Ogden
  90. 90. 1875 movement lineup
  91. 91. 1875 Almanac changes • Lever setting announced. • T.M. Avery: new, low-cost watch. • Required a non-standard size case (±17½) • Was sold factory cased. • Both B.W. Raymond variants (with patent regulator and without) are now depicted as “Adjusted.” • …but as I said earlier, in real life the change actually happened c. 1872.
  92. 92. G. HUNTER.` Hand-Setting Attachments for Watchès. l Patented June t6 UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE. GEORGE HUNTER, OF ELGIN, ILLINOIS, ASSIGNOR OF ONE-TENTH HIS RIGHT TO THE NATIONAL WATCH COMPANY, OF SAME PLACE. y IMPROVEMENT IN HAND-SETTING“> ATTACHMENTS FOR WATCHES. Specilïcntion forming part of Letters Patent Ne. 152,113, dated June 1G. U74; application filed March 30, 1874. To all whom it may concern: Be it known that I, GEORGE HUNTER, ot’ Elgin, in the county of Kane and in the State of Illinois, have invented certain new and use i‘ul Improvements in Hand - Setting Attach ments for Watches; and do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description thereof, reference being had to the accompanying drawing making a part of this specification, in which Figure 1 is a planview ofthe upper or face side of a watch-movement containing my im proved attachment. Fie. 2 is an enlarged plan view of the toothed driving-ring, and the pivoted lever within which it is journaled. Fig. 3 is a section’ot' the same upon line x x of Fig. 2. Fig. 4. is a plan view and a side ele vation of the cannon-pinion; and FiU‘. 5 is a plan view and a longitudinal section of the lever employed for throwing the setting at tachment into engagement, and for locking the winding-gearin fr. Letters of like name and kind refer to like parts in each of the figures. The object of my invention is to simplify the construction and increase the eiiiciency ot" mechanism employed for setting the hands of a watch through or by means of the stem or push-pin; and it consists, principally, in an externally and internally toothed ring sur rounding the cannon - pinion, and capable of lateral adjustment, so as to cause its inner teeth to engage with the same, and its exter nal teeth to simultaneously mesh with one of the wheels ot' the winding-train, substantially as and for the purpose hereinafter specified. It consists, further, in the construction of the pivoted lever upon which the toothed ringisjournaled, and its combination with said ring, substantially as and for the purpose here inafter shown. In the annexed drawing, A represents the upper plate ot' a watch-movement, vwithin which are journaled the center-wheel stati' I3, winding-arbor È, and other portions of an or larger diameter, and is serrated or toothed upon its periphery, as seen in Fig. 4. Within a recess formed in the plate A, below the dial wheel E, is placed a ring, F, which, upon its inner periphery, is provided with teeth or scr rations f, that correspond to the tooth upon the disk el ot' the pinion I), while upon the outer periphery of said ring are formed gear teeth j", ot’ usual size and shape, the interior dimensions of said ring being such as that, when placed equidistant at all points from said cannon-pinion, their contiguous surfaces shall not come into contact. ÑVithin the up per side of the toothed ring F is formed a re cess, f", the bottom of which is parallel with its faces, while the side of said recess inclines upward and inward, as seen in Fig. 3. The recess f”, thus constructed, receives a correspondingly-shaped annular boss 0r en largement, g, that is formed upon one end of a bar, G, a section ot' said boss being removed, so as to enable it to be sprung together sut' iiciently to pass within said recess, after which, by expansion, it will be caused to closely fill the latter, and will then furnish a bearing for and upon which the ring F may revolve. The bar or lever G, having the form shown in Figs. l, 2, and 3, is pivoted, at or near its longitudinal center, upon the plate A, and, moving in a horizontal plane, enables the toothed ring F to be thrown laterally into or out ot' engagement with the cannon-pinion D. 'When the toothed ring F is thrown into en gagement with the cannon-pinion D, its outer teethf’ mesh with the corresponding teeth ot' a spur-gear wheel, H , which latterforms the main wheel of the train that connects the winding arbor O and the stem or push-pin I, and ena bles said arbor to be revolved within its bear ings by said stein ; by which means it will be seen that the motion of said stem, communi cated through said gear II and toothed ring F, will cause said cannon-pinion to revolve, and thus enable the hands to be adjusted. As the means employed for throwing the H.Z. Culver! #236,238, c. 1875-77! Stem wind, slide lever set I have a talk on this topic…
  93. 93. H.H. Taylor, #158,372 (c. 1877?) At some point in 1875-1878, the remaining stock of slide lever watches was modified to use a pull-out lever.
  94. 94. T.M. Avery! #408,601! c. 1875 • T.M. Avery was Elgin’s second president (1867 to 1898). • This watch doesn’t fit into standard size cases. The market hated this, and the watch didn’t survive long (1878?). • Elgin may have exported much of the remaining stock to England. • I think this particular watch is in a case that was modified to fit it.
  95. 95. Elgin N.W. Co.! Coin silver watch case! 17½ size, c. 1875-1877 This one’s on an Elgin Leader 17½ size watch (#421,481, c. 1876/77)
  96. 96. THE FRANKLIN JEWELRY COMPANY'S PRICE LIST. 47 He doth much that doth a thing well. SOLID SILVER ELGIN WATCHES. Warranted Huutms? Case (Coin Silver). Genuine (Elgin) American Works. ABO "E WORKS IN HUNTING CASE, Coin Silver. 2 oz. Case, $13.50 3 oz. Case, S16.50 4 oz. Case, $18.00 Fine Gold Oreide Case, . . . $12.00 ABOVE WORKS IN HUNTING CASE, Coin SUver. 2 oz. Case, ?16.50 3 oz. Case, §18.00 4 oz. Case, $21.00 Fine Gold Oreide Case, . . . $15.00 $280 $350 $375 $350 $250 $375 $440 $315 2013 Dollars! (inflation adjusted) Franklin Jewelry Catalog Philadelphia, c. 1875 Accounting for inflation, a lower-end 1875 Elgin cost about the same as a lower- end smartphone in 2014 (no-contract prices). ! By 1897, a “dollar” watch would cost about $25 in 2013 dollars. ! Amazon today sells Casio wristwatches for $10.
  97. 97. Franklin Jewelry (cont.) '? ABO "E WORKS IN HUNTING CASE, Coin Silver. 2 oz. Case, $13.50 3 oz. Case, S16.50 4 oz. Case, $18.00 Fine Gold Oreide Case, . . . $12.00 ABOVE AVORKS IX HUNTING CASE, Coin Silver. 2 oz. Ca.se, 616.00 3 oz. Case, $18.00 4 oz. Case, $21.00 Fine Gold Oreide Case, . . . $16.00 ABOVE WORKS IN HUNTING CASE, Coin SUver. 2 oz. Case, ?16.50 3 oz. Case, §18.00 4 oz. Case, $21.00 Fine Gold Oreide Case, . . . $15.00 ABOVE WORKS IN HUNTING CASE, Coin Silver. 2 oz. Case, $16.00 3 oz. Case, $19.00 • 4 oz. Case, $23.00 Fine Gold Oreide Case, . . . $15.00 The eugravings represent the style of works which we encase in our coin SILVER CASES or solicl fine oreide cases, guaranteed to wear and keep time. We have marked prices under each style, and will use this occasion to assure our patrons of the excellence and durability of these well-known and $375 $335 $335 $440 $335 $480 2013 Dollars! (inflation adjusted) $400 $315
  98. 98. 1876 Almanac • The last Elgin Almanac. • The movement lineup pages are almost the same as 1875. • Small but ominous change: some text was deleted.
  99. 99. 1875 Almanac text “Purchasers will please note that no movement purporting to be of Elgin manufacture is genuine unless the trade mark upon it corresponds with some one of the cuts shown upon these pages.”
  100. 100. 1876 Almanac Scan courtesy of Greg Frauenhoff. The warning was been deleted!
  101. 101. What happened in 1875/76? • Elgin started to move away from this system of watches named after persons. • (Seriously, could anybody keep those names straight?) • The only first-generation names that survived were: • H.H. Taylor (until 1895; low-end railroad watch) • G.M. Wheeler (until early 1930s? “gentleman’s” watch) • B.W. Raymond (until the end; railroad watch)
  102. 102. • Elgin started reducing manufacturing costs, and would soon offer expansion balances on all their watches. • Fake expansion balances seem to have disappeared first (c. 1876?). • But solid balances didn’t last much longer. What happened in 1875/76?
  103. 103. What happened in 1875/76? • I think I see three stages (but they overlap a lot): 1. Nameless watches were made in 1875-76 for Elgin’s short-lived London office. 2. “Odd name” watches were made for a brief period around 1876/77. 3. Domestic nameless watches were also made from 1876/77, and soon displaced the “odd names.”
  104. 104. Elgin’s London Office Watches • Almost nothing is has been written about these. • Sources: • Jacques David’s report to the Swiss watch industry (from early 1877). • Crossman and Abbott’s books (mid-late 1880s) • Elgin’s grade number books (at the NAWCC Library). • Observation of watches and eBay listings.
  105. 105. Elgin Nameless Watch! Grade #32 (English)! #364,694, c. 1875-81! 12 size, key wind/key set! 13 jewels (3 pair)
  106. 106. Elgin Nameless Watch! Grade #32 (English)! #364,694, c. 1875-81! 12 size, key wind/key set! 13 jewels (3 pair) No more than 400 made of grade 32.
  107. 107. Sterling! Silver London! Assay! Office 1881 James! Wintle? Elgin Nameless Watch! Grade #32 (English)! #364,694, c. 1875-81! 12 size, key wind/key set! 13 jewels (3 pair)
  108. 108. • About 25 different grades were planned, in sizes 18, 17½, 14, 12 and 10. • Elgin opened the London office in 1875 and closed it in 1876. • Not clear: • How many were actually made of each • Whether all the recorded grades were made at all Elgin’s London Office Watches
  109. 109. The “Odd Name” Watches • There was a brief stage around 1876/77 where Elgin sold watches with unusual, non-person names. • The Age, The Chief, Advance, Leader • I’ve found almost zero information about these.
  110. 110. Dec. 1877 $310 $450 $600 $666 $1,075 2013 Dollars $575 $715 $785 $1,200 +$35 +$70 −$35 −$50
  111. 111. E.V. Roddin Price List (1877) • Note the list sells both: • Almanac watches (e.g., H.Z. Culver) • “Odd Name” watch: The Chief • The “stages” I propose overlap in time.
  112. 112. Elgin The Age! #576,713, c. 1877! Stem wind, lever set Note the flat dial (seconds subdial is not sunk). This is common in the lower grade late 1870s post-Almanac watches.
  113. 113. Elgin The Age! #576,713, c. 1877! Stem wind, lever set Note the engraved regulator index. This is common of the lower grade, late 1870s post- Almanac watches.
  114. 114. Elgin The Chief! #585,705, c. 1877! Stem wind, lever set
  115. 115. Elgin The Chief! #585,705, c. 1877! Stem wind, lever set! 7 jewels, exp. balance
  116. 116. Elgin Leader! #500,813, c. 1877! 17½ size! Stem wind, lever set! No seconds hand This is a stem wind/ lever set version of the T.M. Avery. ! Exists both with a seconds hand and without it. ! There is also a keywind Leader.
  117. 117. Elgin Leader! #500,813, c. 1877! 17½ size! Stem wind, lever set! No seconds hand
  118. 118. Nameless Watches • Around 1877, Elgin announced nameless movements for the American market. • Nameless watches were probably first made around the same time as the “odd names.” • The odd names were soon killed, but nameless watches lived on. Scan from NAWCC Encyclopedia website
  119. 119. • S.F. Myers was a wholesale jewelry dealer (a “jobber”). • Most of the watches offered are nameless grades identified by numbers.
  120. 120. Elgin Grade 60! Very early nameless?! #458,687, c. 1876/77! Key wind, key set! Flat dial
  121. 121. Very plain decoration. Regulator index engraved on top plate Elgin Grade 60! Very early nameless?! #458,687, c. 1876/77! Key wind, key set! Solid balance
  122. 122. Elgin Grade 13! #238,278, c. 1878 • This watch has an oddly low serial number. • It is in fact contemporary to grade 13 watches in the 550,000 - 1,000,000 serial numbers.
  123. 123. “Wavy”! barrel! bridge Company! name only Elgin Grade 13! #238,278, c. 1878
  124. 124. Bibliography Abbott, Henry G. 1888. The Watch Factories of America, Past and Present. A complete history of watchmaking in America, from 1809 to 1888 inclusive, with sketches of the lives of celebrated American watchmakers and organizers. Chicago: Geo. K. Hazlitt & Co. Alft, E.C. & William Briska. 2003. Elgin Time: A History of the Elgin National Watch Company, 1864-1968. Elgin, IL: Elgin Historical Society. Casillas, Luis. 2014. “Early Elgin stemwind watches.” Slides of presentation given to Chapter 94 of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. http:// www.slideshare.net/LuisCasillas4/early-elgin-stem-wind- watches-18651878 Crossman, Charles S. 1885-1887. The Complete History of Watch Making in America. Reprinted from the Jeweler’s Circular and Horological Review. Exeter, NH: Adams Brown Company. David, Jacques. 1877. “Report to the Intercantonal Committee of Jura Industries on the manufacture of watches in the United States.” Translated and reprinted in Richard Watkins, 2003, American and Swiss Watchmaking in 1876. Ehrhardt, Roy. 1976. Elgin Watch Company: Identification and Price Guide. Kansas City, MO: Heart of America Press. Elgin National Watch Co. 1915. Net Price List of Materials Manufactured by the Elgin National Watch Co. Chicago: The Lakeside Press. Gilbert, Richard E., Tom Engle and Cooksey Shugart. 2012. Complete Price Guide to Watches. Mt. Pleasant, SC: Tinderbox Press. Goldsmith, Ellsworth H. 1953. “Keyless Watches.” NAWCC Bulletin, No. 50. Hoke, Donald Robert. 1991. The Time Museum Historical Catalogue of American Pocket Watches. Rockford, IL: The Time Museum. Muir, William and Bernard Kraus. 1985. Marion: A History of the United States Watch Company. NAWCC Special Publication Number 1. Columbia, PA: Mifflin Press. Otto Young & Co. 1892. Tool and Material Catalogue. Reprinted in July 1998 by the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association, Special Publications Committee. Price, Ron. 2005. Origins of the Waltham Model 57: Evolution of the First Successful Industrialized Watch. NAWCC Special Order Supplement no. 7. Columbia, PA: National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. Schlitt, Wayne. 2004. Elgin Watch Collectors Site. Accessed on April 2014; site lists modification date of 7/24/2004. http://elginwatches.org
  125. 125. Appendix: number madness • There’s a few websites that allow you to enter an Elgin’s watch’s serial number, and give you a variety of data about it. • These are useful, but the information isn’t always accurate. pocketwatchdatabase.com
  126. 126. • Example: #155,399 • Elgin did not classify this watch as a “Grade 20” when it was made. (See below.) • I have #155,399, and it’s a stem wind/ key set. So we know it was made late 1873 or early 1874. • This serial number was recorded as part of a block of 4,900. But does that constitute a “run”? • Later watches from this “run” are lever setting, but this one isn’t! • Watches from this “run” have two different lever linkages! pocketwatchdatabase.com Appendix: number madness
  127. 127. Appendix: number madness • People put too much faith on serial number date tables. • Like this one from the 2012 Price Guide.
  128. 128. • 185,001 was made Sep. 1871… • …but 155,399 and 235,103 (stem wind, key set) were made late 1873 or early 1874 . • 400,001 was made Aug. 1874… • …about the same time as the earliest slide lever set (e.g, 155,743, 235,355) • …and before later pull-out lever set watches (e.g., 158,372, 237,604). • This table is accurate, at best, to ±5 years Appendix: number madness
  129. 129. • Elgin often preallocated “round” serial number blocks for particular watches: • 40,001: Lady Elgin (May 1869) • 50,001: Frances Rubie (Aug. 1870) • 185,001: Gail Borden (Sep. 1871) • 200,001: Dexter St. (Dec. 1871) • 155,001, 235,001: Stem wind (June 1873) • Number blocks still in use for two setting lever variants introduced between 1874 and 1878. • 400,001: T.M. Avery (Aug. 1874) • 500,001: First stem-wind “Leader” (c. 1877) • 600,001: First 16 size watch (late 1878) Appendix: number madness
  130. 130. Appendix: grade names vs. numbers Is this watch a “Grade 55”?
  131. 131. Appendix: grade names vs. numbers Elgin’s 1915 serial number list doesn’t say so.
  132. 132. Appendix: grade names vs. numbers • 1915 serial number list: • The earliest Elgin serial numbers are given grade names, not grade numbers. • 1950 serial number list: • All watches are given grade numbers, but never grade names. • Some watches with different names are collapsed under the same grade number: • Grade 55: Laflin, Ryerson, Ferry • Grade 12: Ogden, Farwell, Fargo
  133. 133. Appendix: grade names vs. numbers If you go by grade names, you get accurate jewel counts. If you go by the 1950 list grade numbers, you don’t. 1915 grade table
  134. 134. Appendix: grade names vs. numbers • But on the other hand: • The 1950 serial number list accurately pinpoints which early serial number blocks were stem winders. • The 1915 list doesn’t.
  135. 135. Grade Name Winding 1915 list 1950 list B.W. Raymond Key Raymond Grade 69 B.W. Raymond Stem Raymond Grade 70 H.Z. Culver Key Culver Grade 62 H.Z. Culver Stem Culver Grade 61 H.H. Taylor Key Taylor Grade 58 H.H. Taylor Stem Taylor Grade 20 Similar for all the other stemwinds ≤ #300,000. Appendix: grade names vs. numbers
  136. 136. • My take on this: • Both the 1915 and the 1950 lists were made from records more accurate than either. • (Wayne Schlitt’s websote says there’s an 1896 material catalog with a list more accurate than either, but I haven’t found a copy yet…) • The authors of the published lists cared about fulfilling parts orders, not historical accuracy. Appendix: grade names vs. numbers
  137. 137. • Hypothesis: the Almanac named grades were originally distinct from the numbered grades that the 1950 list equates them to. • Elgin serial #101 was a key wind/set B.W. Raymond, not a “grade 69.” • “Grade 69” was originally the designation of nameless or private label variants of the KWKS Raymond. • Likewise, Ogden/Farwell/Fargo are not grade 12, Laflin/ Ryerson/Ferry are not grade 55, Wheeler is not grade 57, Frances Rubie is not grade 23, etc. Grade Name vs. Number Hypothesis
  138. 138. • The Almanac grades fall outside the numbering system because they predate it. • However, post-Almanac named watches mostly do correspond to grade numbers. • E.g., a late 1880s nickel B.W. Raymond is really a grade 27, but signed “B.W. Raymond.” • The 1915 and 1950 serial number lists agree. Grade Name vs. Number Hypothesis
  139. 139. • Note that my hypothesis is at odds with the two best (in my opinion) works on Elgin watches: • Roy Ehrhardt’s Elgin Watch Company: Identification and Price Guide (1976) • Wayne Schlitt’s Elgin Watch Collectors Site. Grade Name vs. Number Hypothesis
  140. 140. Appendix: Dating watches • 18 size Elgins from 1867-1879 can be roughly dated by looking at a few features: • Barrel bridge style (sharp vs. wavy) • Stem winding (1873+) • Slide (1874+) lever set vs. pull-out (1877?) • Dial signature (“National” vs. “Elgin”) • Regulator index style: separate part vs. engraved • Separate part: silver vs. gilt finish • Top plate & barrel bridge lettering style
  141. 141. Appendix: serial # vs. dial • Using my database of observed Elgin watches, I can estimate which serial numbers are before and after Elgin’s 1874 company name change.
  142. 142. Appendix: serial # vs. dial • Methodology: • Lots of eyeballing. Caveat emptor. • I’ve observed photos and descriptions of thousands of Elgin watches for over a year and a half. • I have carefully recorded ±675 watches under #600,000. • I’ve seen so many of these watches that believe I can tell which dials look “odd” or “replacement” on an 1870s watch, and I write a note when I think I see one. • After a few years I will have a lot more data. I expect this either will make my estimates better or drive me insane(r).
  143. 143. Appendix: serial # vs. dial • My tables apply to non-private label, KWKS watches. • Private label watches occur in odd serial number blocks, and God knows when they were made. • Nearly all stemwinds were made 1874 or later, and thus have “Elgin” dials. • The one “National” dial stemwind I’ve seen is SWKS. • Some stemwind serial number blocks are surrounded by keywind blocks with “National” dials! (E.g., 155,101 to 160,000). • The tables also exclude the uncommon J.V. Farwell grade, which as we saw was discontinued c. 1871.
  144. 144. • There is no global cut-off serial number for the dials: • The switch happens at different serial numbers for different watch grades. • Some switch points appear to be “fuzzy” within a recorded serial # block. Some “National” dial watches have higher serial numbers than some credible “Elgin” dials, within small serial # differences (hundreds or even tens). • There may be oddball low serial # blocks with “Elgin” dials that were made later than one would guess. Appendix: serial # vs. dial
  145. 145. Appendix: serial # vs. dial • No fancy stats in my table: • Find the highest credible serial # for a “National” dial • Find the earliest credible serial # after which “Elgin” dominates. • Note: I do not claim all “Elgin” dials below my cutoff ranges are replacements! • Estimated switch point: average of those two numbers. • Uncertainty: half their absolute difference.
  146. 146. Dial signature vs. serial number Grade name Estimated boundary Uncertainty # watches recorded B.W. Raymond KWKS, ≤ #330,000 260,130 (184,920 - 260,340) ± 210* 56 H.Z. Culver KWKS 172,500 ±1,900 23 H.H. Taylor KWKS, ≤ #330,000 212,500 ±1,900 29 G.M. Wheeler KWKS, ≤ #330,000 242,750 ±3,250 84 Based on my database, as of May 2014. Please read the explanation earlier before using! ! * I did some funny math for B.W. Raymond. After 180,001 - 185,001, the next recorded B.W. Raymond blocks are 205,401 - 205,500 (which appears to actually be private labels) and 260,001 - 264,000. So, the lower end of my “±210” actually reaches down to 184,920.
  147. 147. Dial signature vs. serial number Grade name Estimated boundary Uncertainty # watches recorded Mat. Laflin KWKS 95,300 ± 250 18 J.T. Ryerson 298,500 ± 1,300 48 W.H. Ferry 241,500 ± 100 16 M.D. Ogden KWKS 267,900 ± 900 35 Based on my database, as of May 2014. Please read the explanation earlier before using!
  148. 148. Dial signature vs. serial number Grade name Estimated boundary Uncertainty # watches recorded Chas. Fargo 280,750 ± 100 18 Lady Elgin ≤ #350,000 162,800 ± 600 43 Gail Borden ≤ #350,000 207,070 ± 350 21 Dexter St. ≤ #350,000 232,170 ± 230 17 Based on my database, as of May 2014. Please read the explanation earlier before using!
  149. 149. Appendix: serial # vs. dial • There is a handful of low serial number blocks that are “out of place” relative to the timeline. • Example: 238,xxx was made 1877 or later, judged by decoration: • “Gothic” script on barrel bridge. • Gilt regulator index. • Steel ring around winding post.
  150. 150. The lesson • You can’t easily use the popular serial number date tables to say which watches ought to have which dial. • Be skeptical of claims that one dial or the other is “(in)correct” for a given serial number.

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