23 Jewel Illini

Ethan Lipsig

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Another thread debating "scarce" and "rare" makes me loathe to say anything more than that I understand there to be only about 10 known examples of the 23 jewel Illini of the up to 200 made. Last year I bought an uncased movement, which my watchmaker restored and recased in a period- and style-appropriate case kindly donated by an Illinois A. Lincoln. The dial and hands came with the Illini movement. See the photos below.

IMG_2180 (526x640).jpg IMG_2182 (594x640).jpg IMG_2211 (640x629).jpg
 

Dr. Jon

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Very intersting watch. Thanks for sharing it.

Does it have a true center bridge?

It looks like it has a piece of some kind of cock at about 7'oclock with respect to the balance wheel. What is that?
 

Jim Carroll

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Jon I beleive thats just a dial foot you are seeing.
Nice watch Ethan; looks much better cased, is that a Solidarity case? Illinois made a few more model 3 watches with burnished jewels, I wonder if it was to use up extra bridges used in the Illini.
 

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Tom McIntyre

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Here is an example from my collection which I think is in its original case.

IlliniMvt.jpg IlliniPillarPlateMarks.jpg IlliniCuvetteIn.jpg IlliniCuvette.jpg IlliniMark.jpg IlliniBack.jpg IlliniFront.jpg IlliniDial.jpg
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Dr. Jon, you ask if this a true center bridge movement. My watchmaker has advised me that it is not: "it is a composite bridge as there are adjoining webs at the end of bridge and clearly raised from lower plate."

As to whether Illinois recycled Illini 23 bridges in other similar watches, I do not know. But I have two Illinois 510s with similar bridges with burnished jewels.
 

Jerry Treiman

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Tom, I have very similar dials to the one on your Illini 23j on Illinois 528 and 538 parts movements. Do you recommend installing one of those dials on the Illini 23j? ...
For what it is worth, I have seen about 1/2 dozen different Illini and no two of them had the same dial. All were metal dials. The only factory license/certificate I have seen for the Illini says that it has a "wide spread glass enamel dial" -- the watch that belonged to that certificate had a metal dial, though. The term "wide spread" meant that it was a full 12-size dial, as used on many factory-cased Illinois (however those are usually metal). Dials on other 12-size Illinois movements (enamel or metal) actually measure 10-size. I suspect that the original spread enamel dials must have been very prone to damage and so most surviving examples have a replacement metal dial. As long as the dial you have looks good I would not worry about trying to match what some other example may have -- they are probably not original either. [By the way, the snap-on dials from the 528 or 538 are different sizes from each other, and neither would work for the 23j Illini which requires a dial with dial feet].
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Here is an updated list of the 17 23 jewel Illinis I understand still exist. If you know of any others, please let Jerry Treiman and me know.

1. 2,933,918 - Recased in 14k Knapp case and with refinished dial from A. Lincoln
2. 2,933,922 - TM's
3. 2,933,944 - Photo in Snyder database
4. 2,933,946 - No case; enamel dial
5. 2,933,951 - RS'
6. 2,933,958 - Original 14k Illinois-signed Solidarity case, sold on eBay for $860 in 7/15
7. 2,933,964 - 14k case but with different case number than on certificate
8. 2,933,971 - Offered on eBay in 6/15
9. 2,933,972 - Given by RS to grandson
10. 2,933,992 - Possibly recased
11. 2,933,997 - 14k case
12. 2,935,011 - Sold by FH
13. 2,935,041 - 14k Wadsworth case taken an Illinois 406; painted dial
14. 2,935,044 - Recased
15. 2,935,073 - Sold by FH uncased
16. 2,935,076 - ML's
17. 2,935,097 - ML's
 
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Tom McIntyre

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You have my 2,933,946 listed with the enamel dial. I picked it up in Denver a few years ago. The other interesting thing about it is that it have a dust ring that fills all the space between the smaller top plate and the pillar plate diameters.

I do not have a picture right now and I need to run some errands, but I will try to photograph it later this evening. I bought a "full set" of Illini's from a collector several years ago that included my other example. He did not have the 528 and the Illini had been assembled over a period of several years while he looked for a "correct" case and dial for it.

My enamel dial that I think is original has a crack that curves into the number eleven between 10:30 and 11:30. It is visible when you tilt the dial but not obtrusive otherwise.
 

Jerry Treiman

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Determining the "correct" dial for these watches has always been a bit difficult because such a great variety have been seen on existing examples. The 23j "Illini" is a factory-cased 12-size movement, i.e. it takes a special case and a dial that extends to the edge of the pillar plate. (standard 12-size Illinois movements fit a standard case and have a dial that measures about 10-size and drops into a recess in the pillar plate). These dials, whether metal or enamel, have dial feet at the same locations.

Of the 17 "Illini" examples that I have recorded, twelve have metal dials, three have enamel dials and two are unknown. At least three dials are probably not original. The attached image shows those dials that may be original. The only known surviving certificate accompanying an "Illini" states that it has a "wide spread glass enamel dial" and this matches information in a 1918 ad that featured this watch. In the cut from that ad, shown below, it looks like the watch has the same enamel dial that has been seen on two known examples. The preponderance of metal dials, though, suggests that Illinois must have switched to a metal dial or replaced them later, perhaps due to the propensity for the enamel dials to crack.

The case shown in the first image (upper left) is typical of the solid gold Solidarity cases that are seen on most examples.

alldials.jpg
 
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Jerry Treiman

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I am saddened to report that one of only 11 known 23-jewel Illini watches in their original gold cases has recently lost its case. A movement now on the market was in its original fine case just this past October. I am afraid that scrapping is still a big problem.
 

musicguy

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In November I asked here on the forum, "How hard is it to find a case for a 538 Illini" because I found
one that was recently scrapped but in the end didn't buy the reasonably priced movement.
Scrapping is and will always be a problem. I am grateful
that some of you own some of these "rare", "scarce", or "very few" watches and have
kept them out of the scrappers hands. Thank you.



Rob
 
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Brad Maisto

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Not to detract from this interesting conversation, but I am a proud “Illini” graduate from the University of Illinois Medical Center Campus in Chicago, IL in 1976. Spent my first three years in Champaign/Urbana. My suspicion is that these “Illini” marked Illinois watches were targeted towards college graduates, since watches were popular graduation gifts? I am sure others know that metal dials were pushed pretty hard during the early part of the 1900’s as being more stylish and “trendy” if I can use this description! I cannot really make out too much from Jerry’s advertisement on the Illini from the 1918 publication, but I do appreciate seeing this listed.
Thanks, Brad Maisto, KY Floral #44 Secretary
 

Nathan Moore

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Not to detract from this interesting conversation, but I am a proud “Illini” graduate from the University of Illinois Medical Center Campus in Chicago, IL in 1976. Spent my first three years in Champaign/Urbana. My suspicion is that these “Illini” marked Illinois watches were targeted towards college graduates, since watches were popular graduation gifts? I am sure others know that metal dials were pushed pretty hard during the early part of the 1900’s as being more stylish and “trendy” if I can use this description! I cannot really make out too much from Jerry’s advertisement on the Illini from the 1918 publication, but I do appreciate seeing this listed.
You may find this beneficial. The c.1920 promotional booklet distributed by the Illinois Watch Company, Illinois Watches and Their Makers, alludes to the origin of the Illini name:

We'll start with "Illinois," the name these watches bear. Centuries ago Hennepin said it came from the Indian word "Illini" which signifies a complete, finished and perfect man, imbued with the spirit and bravery of the men of every nation that ever lived.


35.jpg 36.jpg 37.jpg
 

RLVan

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Here is one I picked up about six months ago and it was a mess. Bad dial, missing case screws, and the dust ring was bent. I had a dial redone like the one in the top left of the picture above, new hands and the best case I could fid close to the date. SN 2933909

Illinois Illini 23j-sm1.jpg Illinois Illini 23j-sm-2.jpg Illinois Illini 23j-sm-3.jpg Illinois Illini 23j-sm-4.jpg Illinois Illini 23j-sm5.jpg Illinois Illini 23j-sm--6.jpg
 

Tom McIntyre

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You may find this beneficial. The c.1920 promotional booklet distributed by the Illinois Watch Company, Illinois Watches and Their Makers, alludes to the origin of the Illini name:

We'll start with "Illinois," the name these watches bear. Centuries ago Hennepin said it came from the Indian word "Illini" which signifies a complete, finished and perfect man, imbued with the spirit and bravery of the men of every nation that ever lived.


View attachment 564223 View attachment 564224 View attachment 564226
Nathan, the pamphlet stops abruptly. Is there a missing 4th page?
 

Nathan Moore

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Nathan, the pamphlet stops abruptly. Is there a missing 4th page?
Yes, indeed. It continues on. I just posted excerpts from the promotional booklet immediately relevant to this thread. The full booklet has been digitized and is available online. Here is where it continues from the pages above. Hope this helps. If you need anything else, please let me know.

 

Brad Maisto

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Nathan,
Is there some “trick” to print this Illinois information? I asked my wife to print it and she thinks it is some how “locked”?
Thanks, Brad Maisto
 

Jerry Treiman

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Since this thread has been resurrected I thought I would add a few interesting comparisons. The 23-jewel "Illini" has been considered very special because of finish differences and scarcity when compared with the other 23-jewel 12-size grade - the 410.
Illini-410.jpg

The Illini, uncharacteristically, does not have a grade number. It also has top bridge jewels that are burnished in rather than being in gold chatons. The pallet bridge also appears to be polished steel rather than nickel. I wonder if the burnished jewels may have been a cost-cutting feature since the Illini in a gold case was priced at only $100. (I can't find a comparable factory casing for the 410, but based on movement price I suspect it would have been more).

The Illini can also be compared with the private-label 23-jewel "Hallmark" (grade 510) and we see many similarities, the main difference being that the grade 510 has a 14-size pillar plate.
Illini-Hallmark.jpg 510Hallmark_23jIllini_bb_u.jpg 510Hallmark_23jIllini_pp.jpg
[Some sharp-eyed observers may note that my last image features a different example of the Hallmark 510, with red lettering)
 

Nathan Moore

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Nathan,
Is there some “trick” to print this Illinois information? I asked my wife to print it and she thinks it is some how “locked”?
Thanks, Brad Maisto
Brad -

In order to discourage wasting paper, the online viewer intentionally does not offer a "printable" version (some of the resources are hundreds of pages). However, I would be happy to provide the full PDF file to use how you see fit. It does not look like the forum will allow me to upload it since it is such a large file, but here is a download link that I believe should do the job:


Thanks!
 
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Tom McIntyre

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Since this thread has been resurrected I thought I would add a few interesting comparisons. The 23-jewel "Illini" has been considered very special because of finish differences and scarcity when compared with the other 23-jewel 12-size grade - the 410.
View attachment 720686

The Illini, uncharacteristically, does not have a grade number. It also has top bridge jewels that are burnished in rather than being in gold chatons. The pallet bridge also appears to be polished steel rather than nickel. I wonder if the burnished jewels may have been a cost-cutting feature since the Illini in a gold case was priced at only $100. (I can't find a comparable factory casing for the 410, but based on movement price I suspect it would have been more).

The Illini can also be compared with the private-label 23-jewel "Hallmark" (grade 510) and we see many similarities, the main difference being that the grade 510 has a 14-size pillar plate.
View attachment 720685 View attachment 720689 View attachment 720688
[Some sharp-eyed observers may note that my last image features a different example of the Hallmark 510, with red lettering)
Jerry I have not taken down any of my examples, but I was struck by the engraving in the barrel recess that says Jeweled Barrel on both the Illini and the 510. I have a Hallmark 510 with a little later serial number and identical marking. I suppose that indication is there for the repairman to remind him that the barrel is jeweled since there is no visible jewel.
 

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