Hampden/Molly Stark Ladies' pocket watch - request for information
Welcome to the NAWCC Pocket Watch Message Board!
The Hampden Watch Co. grade Molly Stark, a size-3/0, 7-jewel, gilt-finished watch, was Introduced in 1896. Molly Stark was the wife of General John Stark, a revolutionary war hero of Bunker Hill and Bennington fame, for whom another grade of watch was named. The Hampden Watch Co.'s home of Canton, Ohio is in Stark county.
According to information in “The Hampden Watch Co.,” NAWCC Special Order Supplement #1, J. Hernick and R. Arnold, NAWCC, Columbia, PA, 1997 (Still available - see Heart of America Press), serial number 1,395,305 was built in about 1900. The gold color of the movement (gilt-finish) is a thin plating to protect the metal of the watch plates from corrosion.
To give you an idea of its value when new, the “Sears, Roebuck and Co., Inc. Catalogue No. 111,” Chicago, IL, 1902, reprinted by Bounty Books, Crown Publishers, New York, NY, 1969, offers the Molly Stark in a 14K solid gold Dueber case for $17.00. The same movement in a 14K gold-filled Dueber case was $11.50. In order to understand the cost of watches when new, its useful to keep this well-known fact in mind:
In 1914, Henry Ford astonished the industrial world when he practically doubled the wages of his assembly line workers to $5.00 per day, thus making them nearly the highest-paid hourly workers.
Although the case is marked “WARRENTED” and “14K” it may only be gold-filled. Around the time your watch was built, many case companies (Dueber included) were intentionally vague and misleading with their case markings. Many solid gold cases are marked "U.S. Assay."
When opening the cover of a HC watch, always hold the watch in your right hand, with the crown at your right thumb and with your left hand over the cover. Once the cover is released, ease it open with your left hand, without letting it hit hard as it swings open. The watch will be in the correct position to read the time. There are no proper "stops" to catch the cover and letting it spring open eventually damages the hinge. Similarly, when closing the cover, always press in the crown with your right thumb until the cover is firmly closed, then release the crown so that the inner catch, latches the lid in place. "Snapping" the cover closed without pressing in the crown eventually wears away the lip that the inner catch grabs onto.
You have a nice heirloom,
That guy down in Georgia