My father came up to me today and gave me this watch 1873 Elgin pocket watch. He asked me to find some details about the watch and if available, how much it may be worth. I was hoping that some of you fine people might be so kind to help me out here. Thanks.
Serial number 342078
Welcome to the NAWCC American Pocket Watch Message Board!
Checking the references listed in the Elgin Watch Co. Encyclopedia article (and looking at your pictures), Elgin movement serial number 342078 can be seen to be an 18-size, model 1, grade No. 57, 13-jewel, gilt, keywind/keyset movement, built in about 1876, give or take a year or so. This was a fairly popular movement of which a little over 75,000 were built during the ten year span of 1867-1877.
If you tell us the markings stamped inside the back of the watch case (or post a picture of them), we may be able to tell you something about it. You can ignore any "hand-scratched" characters, they're watch repairers' marks.
Unless you know that it has been cleaned and oiled within the last few years, you should have the watch serviced before running it very much. It may be helpful for you to read the Encyclopedia article on Watch Service and its related links, especially the one to the message board thread on the subject. The Encyclopedia article on Choosing a Pocket Watch Repair Person may be useful as well.
I'm sorry to say that as it is noted near the top of this page, just below the top menu bar, "No Appraisals." However, knowing the proper description of your watch (which, if we can add something about the case, we will have fully provided) you should be able to use a Google Search to find similar watches offered by internet dealers, or on eBay, and see what they are selling for. Alternately, check the value in the Complete Price Guide to Watches, No 27, C. Shugart, T. Engle and R. Gilbert, Tinderbox Press, Mount Pleasant, SC, 2007. A new edition comes out each year in January or February, so ask for the latest edition. The book is available at libraries, at most major booksellers and online at the NAWCC Gift Shop (ask about the current edition). Condition matters! Also, a solid, coin silver or sterling silver case instead of a nickel case will make a difference as well.
Please feel free to ask about anything that isn't clear to you.