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Wadsworth Watch Case Co.

The Wadsworth Watch Case Co., Newport, KY, came into existence in 1892, a descendant of H.A. Wadsworth & Co. It remained in business for 61years, until purchased by the Elgin National Watch Co. in 1953.


Wadsworth Watch Case Co.: A Brief History

Information about the Wadsworth Watch Case Co. can be found in the book, “History of the American Watch Case,” Warren H. Niebling. Harry Arthur Wadsworth, at the age of 26, had moved from New York City to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1886, going to work at the watch case firm Duhme & Co. Prior to 1889, he moved across the Ohio River to Newport, KY and worked at the Dueber Watch Case Manufacturing Co. Harry then became a partner with J.H. Stegman and they formed the case making firm of H.A. Wadsworth & Co. in 1889, also in Newport. Three years later, the company became incorporated as The Wadsworth Watch Case Co.

In early 1893, Wadsworth purchased land for a new factory at Washington avenue and King St. The 3-story building was erected. Within five years, that space was outgrown and a new wing was added. By the end of that year (1898), the factory was closed for two weeks while repairs and renovations were made and new machinery was installed. Still growing, and needing more space as business increased, in early 1900 the plant was moved to a larger, existing set of buildings in Dayton, KY, several miles from its former Newport location. A 1950s-1960s view of the factory can be seen in a much later picture.

At the same time, the nature of the company's sales began to change. Prior to the turn of the century, Wadsworth sold only to wholesalers, but after the move to Dayton, they began to sell directly to movement manufacturers. Known for making high grade solid gold and gold-filled cases, Wadsworth was absorbed by the Elgin National Watch Co. in 1953. The change of ownership didn't help hold off the loss of sales to foreign imports and the watch case factory closed in 1958.

Engraved Designs

Some of Wadsworth's case engraving designs may be seen in the following ads, as well as those linked to elsewhere in this article:

August 5, 1891 ad 2 designs.
August 12, 1891 ad 2 designs.
September 9, 1891 ad 2 designs.
March 29, 1893 adScalloped Case - 1 design.
November 8, 1893 ad 3 designs.
November 7, 1894 ad New 12-size case - 3 various designs.
May 1898 ad Spanish-American War USS Maine case.
November 1, 1899 ad 1 design.
December 6, 1905 ad Permanent, Pilot & 20-year cases - 12 designs.

Wadsworth's case designs may also be seen on pages 342, 344, 347 and 348 of the 1897 Lapp & Flershem Twenty-first Annual Illustrated Catalogue.

Case Grades

Case GradeCase Material
U.S. Assay 14K14K Solid Gold case
14 Karat (posted by hannover_dk)14K Solid Gold case
PermanentGold-Filled, guaranteed permanently
W.W.C.Co. (Trade Mark)14K Gold-Filled, guaranteed for 25 years
Pilot / Ship's Wheel Trade MarkGold-Filled, guaranteed for 15 Years up through February 1898, 20 Years from May 1898 to May 1903, and 25 Years after December 1905.
SpecialGold-Filled, warranted for 20 years
RefereeGold-Filled, guaranteed for 20 years
ArrowGold-Filled, warranted for 20 years
RamblerGold-Filled, guaranteed for 5 years, or if so marked, for 10 years (Discontinued by 1904), or indeterminate as this example (courtesy grtnev)
RamblerRolled Gold Plate if so marked
PlatoldNickel Back and Bezel w/ Gold-Filled Center Ring case.

See the Case Material Wiki article for an explanation of the terms.

References

Books
The following books and back issues of the NAWCC Bulletin are available to members on loan by mail from the NAWCC Lending Library, using the Lending Library Form. Back issues of the NAWCC Bulletin are also available online to NAWCC members who are currently logged in.

History of the American Watch Case, Warren H. Niebling, Whitmore Publishing, Philadelphia, PA, 1971, pp 49-50.

A number of Wadsworth's trade marks (but not all) may be seen on page 123 of the book Trade Marks Of The Jewelry And Kindred Trades, Second Edition, Jewelers' Circular Publishing Co., NY, 1904 (found online by Askbart).


Articles

"A Pictorial View of American Watchcase Factories," Andrew H. Dervan, NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin No. 396, March/April 2012, pp. 183-184.

Watch case makers

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