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American Watch Co. Metal Detecting Find

Tom McIntyre

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musicguy

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Sorry for any confusion in this thread. It should be good from here.


Rob
 

topspin

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So. What do we reckon this fine collectors piece was doing hidden in (a) stone wall, and how long do we suppose it had been there for?
 

Rick Hufnagel

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It is a nice find. It was the best watch that American Watch Co. made at the time. Here is the basic sn lookup http://nawccinfo.nawcc.org/LookupSN.php?serial=40119&sernumin=

This is the list of all the runs except one tht was entered as "thin model" http://nawccinfo.nawcc.org/LookupSN.php?serial=40119&sernumin=

So this is a 17 jewel, model 1859 made in November of 1860. Only 260 of this grade produced? Seems like an important find. A quick internet search revealed one sold a while back that is a few serial numbers away from this one. Only one observation on Tom's database.

I can't imagine many American manufacturers putting out a 17 jewel watch at this time. Looking at one of Tom's pictures I don't see any cap jewels, so assuming the center is jeweled to make 17? Edit: nevermind sorry, I see the caps on the escape wheel.
 
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Super-Painter001

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So. What do we reckon this fine collectors piece was doing hidden in (a) stone wall, and how long do we suppose it had been there for?
Don't know, probably dropped or thrown there, junk pile at base of wall, kids also sometimes take items from houses and drop or throw them around, so I wouldn't think it was hidden there, found with front cover open, no glass or bezel ring. Dial was covered in looks like spider juice. I am an avid metal detectorist, and find all kinds of artifacts. I'm not really commenting on this thread, as I don't know all the rules, and compassion for the item, is just to let people view it. Hoping to have restored one day, parts free moving. The discovery was all just in a days adventure, and hopeful people will enjoy just looking at the piece , and the best way is just to admire.
 

Clint Geller

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So this is a 17 jewel, model 1859 made in November of 1860. Only 260 of this grade produced? Seems like an important find. A quick internet search revealed one sold a while back that is a few serial numbers away from this one. Only one observation on Tom's database.

I can't imagine many American manufacturers putting out a 17 jewel watch at this time. Looking at one of Tom's pictures I don't see any cap jewels, so assuming the center is jeweled to make 17?
Rick, there may be a very few 17 jewel AWCo grade Model 1859 movements around, but the great majority have 19 jewels, not 17. Many of the jewel counts in the hand-transcribed AWCo records are in error [based on subsequent discussion, it might have been better to say "misleading," rather than "in error"], and this is one of those errors [i.e., misleading entries]. AWCo grade Model 1872s are similarly described as 17 jewel in these records, but almost all have either 18 or 21 jewels. Various Internet websites simply propagate these old mistakes.

Here are four examples of 19 jewel AWCo grade Model 1859 movements in complete, correct cases of which I have images, one of which is mine. You will note that three of the four are in gold cases, one of which has an interesting Civil War provenance. I know of several other examples that I don't happen to have images of, including one in a gold Baldwin reversible case that I examined years ago.

Figure 29 - Chas Fuller M59 AWCo Grade Movement.JPG M59 19J Movement.jpg T McIntyre AWCo M59 movt.jpg T McIntyre AWCo M59 R&A case marking.jpg New Movement image - 1.jpg
 
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musicguy

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but the great majority have 19 jewels, not 17
So it's actually a very scarce watch being 17j and few made.




Rob
 

Clint Geller

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So it's actually a very scarce watch being 17j and few made.




Rob
No, Rob. I think it is safe to assume that all of the AWCo grade Model 1859 movements shown on this thread have 19 jewels, and I would call all of these movements "very scarce." There are hole and cap jewels on both sides of the pallet arbor, and hole jewels on both sides of the center wheel arbor. The upper center hole jewel is just hidden by the dust cup.
 
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musicguy

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All in all I think it was a fantastic Waltham model 1859 Metal Detector find.
If it is a 19j missing some jewels(if I understand Clint's post above)
then it can possibly be repaired. I have seen ton's of watches found similarly
over the years but this is in the best shape of all of them.
Rusted hands and all.


Rob
 

Clint Geller

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All in all I think it was a fantastic Waltham model 1859 Metal Detector find.
If it is a 19j missing some jewels(if I understand Clint's post above)
then it can possibly be repaired. I have seen ton's of watches found similarly
over the years but this is in the best shape of all of them.
Rusted hands and all.


Rob
Rob, I'm sorry I'm not making myself understood. I don't think any of the watches shown here are missing any jewels. I think they all have 19 jewels. The OP was just misled by some inaccurate Internet information.
 

musicguy

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. I don't think any of the watches shown here are missing any jewels. I think they all have 19 jewels. The OP was just misled by some inaccurate Internet information.
Maybe that wrong info was provided by us? This NAWCC
lookup table says 17j


1638826674176.png



Rob
 

Clint Geller

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Maybe that wrong info was provided by us? This NAWCC
lookup table says 17j


View attachment 684414



Rob
Among others, yes. But the watches don't lie. They almost all have 19 jewels. Perhaps I can persuade my watchmaker to disassemble his example, so everyone can see the jeweling.
 
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Tom McIntyre

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At the time the 1859 model was made, it was described as holes jeweled. If you look at the ledger sheets (produced around 1912 from the original job cards) the holes jeweled for the 1859 american Grade movement are 5 pairs. The Appleton Tracy grade are 4 1/2 pairs.

The ledgers and the database we built from them try to be authentic. They do not take into account how collectors have changed their viewpoint of what jewels are. Eventually Waltham decided to count all the jewels but at the time the data was transcribed to the job cards, cap jewels were not counted because they were not jeweled holes, but caps with no hole in them.

When you see something that seems wrong in the data, it is a good idea to read a little more and look at the glossary that explains the meaning of all the terms. http://nawccinfo.nawcc.org/ . There are almost certainly some transcription errors in Walttham database but these different ways of counting jewels are not among them.
 

musicguy

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Tom it is a good and well-thought-out answer but, if on all other watches we count all
jewels someone must have known only counting holes on some older watches
would cause a lot of confusion. We have been counting them all for over 100 years.


Rob
 
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Clint Geller

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It would be interesting to look through trade catalogs to try and pin down exactly when the trade terminology shifted from numbers of pairs to actual jewel counts, and when cap jewels on the train wheels started being included in advertised jewel counts. Certainly they were by 1888, based on what I could find quickly, and likely earlier. These changes were not originated by collectors. In any case, as I believe no one is disputing, AWCo grade Model 1859 movements generally have 19 jewels, as the terminology is understood today.

But let us not lose sight of the fact that the NAWCC's Waltham lookup utility is a very useful tool and we should be grateful to its creators. I use it all the time. Few data sources are perfect, and certainly none of my own.
 
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musicguy

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But let us not lose sight of the fact that the NAWCC's Waltham lookup utility is a very useful tool and we should be grateful to its creators. I use it all the time. Few data sources are perfect, and certainly none of my own.
I would never take anything away from the very hard work that went into
creating the database in the first place but databases can be updated.
The PWD is a fantastic example of this.


Rob
 

Clint Geller

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I would never take anything away from the very hard work that went into
creating the database in the first place but databases can be updated.
The PWD is a fantastic example of this.


Rob
Of course, the PWD has the same error, and without any redeeming period context at all. I was actually thinking of the PWD when I made my original post.
 

musicguy

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and we wonder why this is so confusing to new collectors :)



Rob
 

Tom McIntyre

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The Waltham database is not what you describe. It is a recording of a set of historic documents in searchable form. The page images are a critical part of the data. If the database had values in it that were not from the originals, it would not be faithful to the source.

The unfortunate part is that the thousands of users who have used it have not contributed observations. The observations have provisions for collecting the "current" view of the information

Jerry and I put a lot of work into the Glossary and reading it is an important part of using the tool.

1638845468732.png Many people think that jewel counts are important, but they were rarely mentioned in English watches and they have nowhere near the importance we assign to them. I happen to also collect English watces and attached is a page from the Barraud & Lunds price guide describing their best watch in the late 1800.[/fleft]
 
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Clint Geller

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Tom, If you are going to state an actual jewel count, which was not done in the early factory records, then jewels should be counted in the manner in which they are widely expected to be counted today. Regardless of how jewels may be viewed in English watches, jewel counts are very important to most modern collectors of American watches, as you well know. Even if jewel counts weren't especially important to American watch collectors, which is not the case, that still wouldn't be a reason to invite so likely a misunderstanding. Burying the information in a glossary that the jewel counts stated in the lookup utility do not mean what almost everyone reading them would think them to mean, because cap jewels on train wheel pinions were not counted 150+ years ago, just doesn't make sense.

Why would one consult a glossary when one encounters a common, seemingly familiar term? Do you routinely look up familiar words in a dictionary? The collectors who most need accurate numbers are those who will not realize that something is strange about the information given, and who would therefore see no need to look further. You need a flashing neon warning on those jewel count numbers to warn the reader that they don't mean what they may appear to mean. Better yet, why not give the widely accepted "correct" numbers, and explain in the glossary, if you really feel the need, that jewels might have been counted differently 150 years ago? If total jewel counts supposedly weren't important back then, why base your jewel counting convention on the outdated practice of that period? It's a prescripton for inevitable misunderstanding.
 
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Tom McIntyre

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The reporting function is there to allow actual watches to be reported in current language.

There are two historical documents that were used to get the data. The ledgers and the "Gray Book."

Neither of those fit with our current view although the gray book should have been the same. We knew about those conversion and reporting errors when the project was undertaken. We also knew about the errors in the gray book. However all of that evidence was anecdotal, in the strict sense, unless we wanted to take one of the price guides as authoritative and use it.

The whole point was to avoid what anyone "believed" or had "learned" unless we could catalog that information also. I actually foolishly thought we would have thousands of observations.

I actually thought everyone would read the glossary. It explains the numbers as well as we could do that 23 years ago.
 

musicguy

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Tom McIntyre, there is absolutely no need to defend yourself for all the
hard work, and important decisions, and philosophy of how
you wanted to create your database 23 years ago. It has been an
invaluable source for the community. There are always discussions of procedure
in hindsight, like we are doing now. I never meant to disrespect any of your
hard work. :) :) :)


Rob
 

Clint Geller

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Tom McIntyre, there is absolutely no need to defend yourself for all the
hard work, and important decisions, and philosophy of how
you wanted to create your database 23 years ago. It has been an
invaluable source for the community. There are always discussions of procedure
in hindsight, like we are doing now. I never meant to disrespect any of your
hard work. :) :) :)


Rob
My sentiments as well. Reasonable people may differ over certain choices that were made, but the value of the work speaks louder than any disagreement.
 

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Great watch, for sure. I've been around these little tickers for over 25 years now and I don't recall ever having seen one. And bloody heck anyway, it's really been 23 years since the handwritten ledgers were transcribed?! Makes me feel old. Admittedly, I looked to see if I was the one who entered that one, in case it was transcriber error. :eek:
 

Super-Painter001

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Would anyone know if the Robbins & Appleton Case is american, and is there another movement in existence with this same case, but not english...
 

Clint Geller

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Would anyone know if the Robbins & Appleton Case is american, and is there another movement in existence with this same case, but not english...
Royal E. Robbins was the Treasurer and principal owner of the American Watch Company. His jewelry firm, Robbins & Appleton, which was based in New York City, sold many kinds of watches. I have pictures of an 1850's era 23 jewel English movement by James Hoddell of Coventry. It is in an 18K gold, swing-out R&A case that was carried by Confederate Colonel Lewis Thompson Woodruff, who was the C.O. of the 36th Alabama Infantry. Robbins & Appleton was also the principal sales agency for the AWCo in the period we are discussing. R&A sold both uncased Waltham movements to other retailers, and complete cased Waltham watches to anyone who wanted to buy them. So many early Walthams, but by no means all early Walthams, are to be found in R&A cases. These cases were made in R&A's own case shop in NY City. Many other early Walthams were put in cases that other retailers may have procured from a wide variety of sources.

In post #10 on this thread I showed four 19 jewel AWCo grade Model 1859 movements in correct cases. I say "correct," rather than original, because that is all we usually know for certain. Unlike English watches, American watch movements and cases of a given manufacturer and model were made to be interchangeable. So any Waltham Model 1859 case, regardless of its source, should fit any of Waltham's nearly 23,000 Model 1859 movements. One of the four movements I showed in post #10, SN 40,144, is indeed in a gold R&A case. Those pictures are from Tom's excellent website, AWCo.org, by the way. Movement SN 40,126, which I own, is in a correct gold case marked "T.B.B.", which could have been either a casemaker's mark or a retailer's mark. I don't off-hand remember what the case markings on the other two watches are. The first watch shown, SN 40,134, which belongs to a friend, is pictured on the front cover of my 2019 book, The Appreciation & Authentication of Civil War Timepieces, published by the NAWCC in 2019. The dial is inscribed with the name of the Union army quartermaster captain, Charles E. Fuller, who carried it. The silver watch with movement SN 36,381 belongs to another friend. It was part of the Civil War watch exhibit I guest curated at the NAWCC Museum in Columbia PA, which ran from July 2019 to February 2020.

Here are two more Model 1859 watches from my collection. These examples are of the 15 jewel Appleton, Tracy & Company grade. The silver case, which was made in the AWCo's own case shop in Waltham, is marked "AT&Co.", which was the former name of the AWCo before it was reorganized in early 1859. That timepiece has a distinguished Civil War provenance. According to the Harvard Memorial Biographies, it was in Lt. Colonel John Hodges Jr.s pocket when he was KIA during the Battle of the Crater outside of Petersburg, VA on July 31, 1864. Hodges commanded the 59th MA Infantry throughout Grant's bloody Overland Campaign against Lee in May-June, 1864. The other AT&Co grade watch I show, which has Fitts's patent reversing center pinion, is in an open face gold R&A case.

DSC_0063 cropped.jpg J Hodges Movt cropped.jpg Hodges Watch Cuvette and Inscription.JPG Hodges Watch Front Lid.JPG Lt Col J Hodges Jr M59 Int Case Front - 2.JPG M59 dial side.jpeg M59 movement SN 31,950 - pik #1.jpeg M59 movement SN 31,950 balance closeup.jpeg M59 case rear.jpeg M59 R&A 18K case marking (2).jpeg
 
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Tom McIntyre

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Clint, I noticed in the ledgers that the early 1859 runs alternated between AWCo and ATCo. The ATCo runs are noted 4 1/2 prs jeweled. They would be 16 jewels and might mean that many, most or all of them had jeweled center wheels under the dial. The early 1857 model ATCo also included runs of 4 1/2 prs with the same jeweling.

The jewel in the center under the dial has always been a mystery to me. After this earliest period 4 1/2 prs was used when the top plate was jeweled in the center as in the 1872 American Grade.
 
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Clint Geller

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Clint, I noticed in the ledgers that the early 1859 runs alternated between AWCo and ATCo. The ATCo runs are noted 4 1/2 prs jeweled. They would be 16 jewels and might mean that many, most or all of them had jeweled center wheels under the dial. The early 1857 model ATCo also included runs of 4 1/2 prs with the same jeweling.

The jewel in the center under the dial has always been a mystery to me. After this earliest period 4 1/2 prs was used when the top plate was jeweled in the center as in the 1872 American Grade.
Yes, Tom. I have wondered quite a bit about that, and both my AT&Co grade movements have setting screws around the center arbor, but I bought both of my examples from the same person, a mutual friend of ours, at different times, and he never expressed confidence that the center wheel pinion hole on either watch was jewelled. John Wilson, who has examined quite a few AT&Co grade Model 1859 movements over the years, could not remember ever seeing a 16 jewel AT&Co grade Model 1859 either. So whereas they may well exist, I'm guessing they are likely not very common. Of course, as I recall, you own the only known 17 jewel AWCo grade Model 1859, and I own one of at most two known 21 jewel KW20's, so I've learned to never say never when it comes to these things.

Do you know of any verified examples of a 16 jewel AT&Co grade Model 1859?
 
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Tom McIntyre

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I have not had one I could exmine, but my understanding was that the center jewel was a plain sleeve bearing and, if you looked at it, it was likely to break. If it broke, it was "easily" replaced by a cylinder of metal.

I have no documentation on that, but I thought I heard it from Bill, who can no longer confirm it.

There are a fair number of 1857 model ATCo with 16 jewels. It would be nice if someone could show a picture of the dial side of the pillar plate stripped down to the bearing from one of those.

Does anyone know about the 1859 model with the vibrating hiarspring stud that Peter Isles once had?

One of the wonderful things about the Forums is that you need not own one of these watches to enjoy them, if money gets in your way.
 

Clint Geller

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I have not had one I could exmine, but my understanding was that the center jewel was a plain sleeve bearing and, if you looked at it, it was likely to break. If it broke, it was "easily" replaced by a cylinder of metal.

I have no documentation on that, but I thought I heard it from Bill, who can no longer confirm it.

There are a fair number of 1857 model ATCo with 16 jewels. It would be nice if someone could show a picture of the dial side of the pillar plate stripped down to the bearing from one of those.

Does anyone know about the 1859 model with the vibrating hiarspring stud that Peter Isles once had?

One of the wonderful things about the Forums is that you need not own one of these watches to enjoy them, if money gets in your way.
We definitely need to get to the bottom of this.
 
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Super-Painter001

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Not really just frustrsted...lol
Wondering if clues as to who owned this watch, could be under the dial, and how many jewels are actually in it, being its been a long time since it's been serviced.Just have to wait until I find the right watchmaker that I can be present when serviced.
 

Clint Geller

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Wondering if clues as to who owned this watch, could be under the dial, and how many jewels are actually in it, being its been a long time since it's been serviced.Just have to wait until I find the right watchmaker that I can be present when serviced.
I know of no owners who signed the undersides of their watch dials, Bill. One or two eccentric persons might have done that, but it wasn't a normal thing that people did. There was a dial painter named Josiah Moorhouse who often signed the backs of the dials he painted, and he was at Waltham when your dial was made, but there is no indication that he painted your particular dial. Besides, any watchmaker who worked on your watch could snap a picture of the back of your dial with his cell phone for you. You wouldn't need to be there. As for the jeweling, I'd be very surprised if your watch had anything other than 19 jewels. Probably only one American Watch Company grade Model 1859 movement is known that does not have 19 jewels, and most collectors probably would prefer to have a 19 jewel example, anyway. I know I would.
 

Super-Painter001

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I know of no owners who signed the undersides of their watch dials, Bill. One or two eccentric persons might have done that, but it wasn't a normal thing that people did. There was a dial painter named Josiah Moorhouse who often signed the backs of the dials he painted, and he was at Waltham when your dial was made, but there is no indication that he painted your particular dial. Besides, any watchmaker who worked on your watch could snap a picture of the back of your dial with his cell phone for you. You wouldn't need to be there. As for the jeweling, I'd be very surprised if your watch had anything other than 19 jewels. Probably only one American Watch Company grade Model 1859 movement is known that does not have 19 jewels, and most collectors probably would prefer to have a 19 jewel example, anyway. I know I would.
Ok, Clint...You have a Nice holiday, it all sounds about right, and I'll pick back up on this after Jan 1. Thank You for your knowledge...Bill
 

Clint Geller

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Look either side eagle, I haven't cleaned case, but can see H H either side eagle, not cleaning case as of yet, leaving it as found for now.
Watchmakers often scribed faint marks inside the rear lid of a watch case as a service history record for themselves. Without seeing a picture, it is tough to know what you are looking at.
 

Super-Painter001

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Watchmakers often scribed faint marks inside the rear lid of a watch case as a service history record for themselves. Without seeing a picture, it is tough to know what you are looking at.
Hi Clint...these are stamped, on either side of eagle 2 capital H's. They are hard to see in picture because I haven't cleaned hut can see under a loupe....refer to eagle Casemark Pic on this thread...

IMG_20211011_020930.jpg
 

Clint Geller

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Hi Clint...these are stamped, on either side of eagle 2 capital H's. They are hard to see in picture because I haven't cleaned hut can see under a loupe....refer to eagle Casemark Pic on this thread...

View attachment 685930
Yes, I agree. I don't recall seeing those marks before, but that doesn't mean that I haven't.
 

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