Aurora Private Label Watches

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Dave Coatsworth, Jan 23, 2018.

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  1. Dave Coatsworth

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    Please post your Aurora private label watches in this thread. When posting, please include photos whenever possible (obeying copyright law, of course). For the description, please provide the serial number, model and grade information, and any information you have obtained about the retailer who's name appears on the watch. The more information, the better. We would like to make this more than just a list. It will, hopefully, become a prime resource for private label research. Thanks in advance to all who contribute!
     
  2. Greg Frauenhoff

    Greg Frauenhoff Registered User
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    Cool! I will try to post some of mine in the near future along with pictures and any interesting info that I have about the jeweler in question. There are, generally, two types of private label Auroras: (1) ones with PL markings on both the mvt and dial and (2) ones that have PL markings only on the dial. Also, I intend to restrict my posts to examples that, in my opinion, are likely to be original dial/mvt combinations.
     
  3. luvsthetick

    luvsthetick Registered User

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    #3 luvsthetick, Jan 24, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
    I have 2 Aurora private labels and both are marked on the movement and the dial.

    No 1
    A private label made for the U.S. Jewelers Guild. A 15 jewel movement and so marked.

    DSC_0001x.jpg DSC_0008xc.jpg

    No 2
    A private label marked Minneapolis Watch Co. This is a 15 jewel movement even though it is not marked.This is a new model Aurora, notice the difference in the shape of the barrel bridges and balance cocks of the two watches I posted.

    DSC_0007s.jpg DSC_0017s.jpg
     
  4. Greg Frauenhoff

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  5. Greg Frauenhoff

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    18s "New Model", grade No. 66, mvt #140999, marked "Eclipse, Chicago" with correct dial marked "The J. J. Co.", finished 9/28/89. Made for the Justice Jobbing Co. of Chicago. ETP for this variant is 100.

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  6. Greg Frauenhoff

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    18s, #73372 made for Nevin & Lysaght, St. Joseph, Mo., railroad grade 7-Htg, finished 12/18/88, sold 12/19/88. ETP for this variant is 83.

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  7. Greg Frauenhoff

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    18s "New Model, mvt #55849, made for Charles Stark of Toronto, railroad grade No. 77. Finished 3/20/89, sold 8/28/89. Approx. 1790 mvts were made by Aurora for Stark in 15 different grades. ETP of this variant is 90. 1887 Stark catalog page (Univ. of Toronto digitized collection) shows description of No. 77 at bottom center.

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  8. Greg Frauenhoff

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    18s, grade no. 22-Htg, Goodman King, St. Louis, Mo. with correct dial signed Mermod Jaccard & Co., St. Louis, Mo. Mvt #45598. MJ&Co. also ordered an Aurora grade marked "D. C. Jaccard". Goodman King was an employee of the firm.

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  9. Greg Frauenhoff

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    18s mvt #46092, grade no. 48 (ETP = 370), Made Expressly for the USJ Guild, dial signed I. V. Sherman, Cassopolis, Mich. Most Guild mvts have dials signed with the USJG monogram, however a few have the original purchasing jeweler on them instead. This is one such example. Finished 10/23/88, sold 10/31/88 to I. V. Sherman.

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  10. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Some info on the 18s New Model Aurora mvts made for H. R. Caulfield of San Francisco and signed Caulfield Watch for Railway Service. All are grade no. 66 and marked "Adjusted". (Note: my example is at the bank and I don't have a pic handy. I'll try to dig it out next week.)

    ETP = 255

    Runs (known or suspected)

    140601-700
    142001-010
    142011-050
    142056-060
    142301-400

    Important note on correct dials:

    Because the Co. failed in late Oct. of 1889, methinks that most Caulfield watches finished after this date by the new owners (Rood & Cain who turned the Aurora Co. into Hamilton) were actually sold (or perhaps given to employees to settle their wage claims against the old Co.) to someone other than H. R. Caulfield. Thus, the reason that many known examples have dials marked Aurora Watch Co. rather than Caulfield.

    FWIW, it is very uncommon indeed for a private label Aurora to have a contract name on the movement but not on the dial. The Caulfield watches (some of them anyway) are one of the few Aurora private labels known where a significant number of such mvts have been reported. Another example is the "Chronometer" mvts which were originally intended for the Justice Jobbing Co. of Chicago (and to have dials signed "The J. J. Co."), but which for the same reason as some of the Caulfield mvts some have dials signed "Aurora Watch Co." instead.

    Below is a table of data showing the dial markings on Caulfield mvts along with whether the mvt was finished before 11/89 or not.

    s/n---name on dial---sold before 11/1889 or not

    140639---"For Railway Time Service"---yes
    140648---Caulfield---yes
    140653---Caulfield---yes
    140663---Caulfield---yes
    142009---Caulfield---yes
    14200x---Caulfiled---yes
    142011---Aurora Watch Co.---probably after
    142013---Aurora Watch Co.---probably after
    142028---Aurora Watch Co.---probably after
    142031---?---probably after
    142034---Caulfield---probably after
    142035---?---probably after
    142036---?---probably after
    142044---?---probably after
    142060---Aurora Watch Co.---probably after
    142313---?---probably after
    142321---Aurora Watch Co.---probably after
    142371---?---probably after
    142376---Aurora Watch Co.---probably after
    142398---?---probably after

    Final note on correct dials: a couple have been switched in recent years. Some good mvts with dials signed Aurora watch Co. have had Caulfield marked dials put on them as an "improvement". I don't know the serial numbers of these mvts (some may be in the table above, possibly #142034).

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  11. Greg Frauenhoff

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    18s grade no. 18 (ETP = 310) made for S. D. Crane, Indianapolis, Ind. (matching signed dial). Mvt #80475 from a run of seven mvts finished and sold to Crane. #80475 finished 9/13/87 and sold 10/29/88. It has a marvelous two-tone checkerboard finish.

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  12. Greg Frauenhoff

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    18s grade no. 1-htg for O. L. Rosenkrans and Thatcher, Milwaukee, Wis.

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  13. Greg Frauenhoff

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    The original business plan of the Aurora watch Co. was to restrict the sales of mvts to stockholder jewelers, with only one per town allowed an agency. Perhaps because of this, a great many private label Auroras were made (it is estimated that around 20% of all 18s Auroras have PL markings). Many PL mvts have markings on the dial only and it helps to know what style of dial is expected for a particular grade when considering originality or not. Of course, if the factory records show that a particular jeweler bought a specific mvt then a better dial than expected can be original. The later is particularly true for some 15j unadjusted nickel mvts which have been found with double sunk dials rather than the expected (based on mvt grade) single sunk variety (see below for an example).

    Here are some PL dials which have been found on mvts with regular factory markings:

    img504.jpg img511.jpg
    Grout & Bacon, Port Huron, Mich., mvt #40396 (grade no. 4-htg). The style of dial on this one (single sunk, red five minute numbers, etc.) is a type that is often found on early grade no. 4 mvts, so it doesn't raise any red flags as regards its possible originality.

    img505.jpg img506.jpg

    Two different M. Huffman, Quincy, Ill., dials. Huffman was an officer of the Company, at one time VP and later President. He also had a jewelry store in Quincy.

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    W. E. Counter, Three Rivers, Mich.

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    Harvey B. Locke, Amesbury, Mass. DS dial on mvt #44786 (grade no. 14). Normally, grade no. 14 would have a single sunk dial. This one, being double sunk, is almost certainly original as the factory records show that mvt #44786 was sold to Locke (interestingly there is a "typo" in the sales record as it shows that Locke was in Iowa rather than Mass. There is an Amesbury, Mass., but no such in Iowa that I found after a quick check. If I'm wrong please let me know.
     
  14. Tom Huber

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    I have one Aurora PL. Dial is SS Roman dial marked M Davis & Son
    London Ont. Movement is gilt, 15J, 5th pinion model, lever set, SN 29,470. Movement is not PL marked.

    Tom
     
  15. Greg Frauenhoff

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    The vast majority of Aurora PLs were made for jewelers and have the names and locations of such on the dial. Far less common are dials which have only a name on them, with no city/state given. Here is a dial marked only "C. E. Lawrence" (and in really fancy
    img514.jpg img515.jpg img516.jpg

    lettering). It was found on mvt #80639 (a grade no. 18) which has the regular factory markings. The partial factory records show this mvt as having been sold 11/12/87 to Hart & Miller, Kirksville, Mo. However, there is also a notation that the mvt was returned on 11/18/? (probably 87). Unfortunately, my copy of the page with this info is cutoff at the far end so I don't know if or to whom this mvt was later resold. So is this the original dial? A modern switch? A dial specially ordered with the final purchaser's name (rather than the intermediary jeweler) on it? I don't know. It's a way cool signature in any case.
     
  16. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Here's an Aurora dial made for one of their employees: Frank Balcom. He worked for the Aurora Watch Co. and later Rockford. It turned up several years ago on that famous internet auction site. It was found as a dial only so I placed it on an appropriate mvt. Probably unique and definitely superb.

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  17. Greg Frauenhoff

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    I'm having great fun going through my old pictures. Here's an 18s Aurora fancy dial signed J. C. Gray, Cortland, NY. I bought it eons ago as a loose dial. I can't say who made it, but stylistically it reminds me of some early Hamilton fancy dials. And as all good collectors should know, Hamilton was a direct outgrowth of the combining of Aurora and Keystone by Charles Rood and Henry Cain. So maybe the same guy worked for Aurora and then on to Hamilton (btw Hamilton was still selling Aurora mvts in 1893). Or maybe it was made by an outside dial firm such as O'Hara (there is no name marked on the back). As regards Gray, there are a fair number of PL Auroras with his name on the dial, though these are of the garden variety.

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  18. Greg Frauenhoff

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    18s mvt #141787, J. Kendall Smith, Newark, N. J. The dial is unsigned, however there was originally a name on it that has been rubbed off (e. g., in pic see the faint remains of the inner circle line between X and XI). This mvt is probably a grade 109-htg, which is essentially a grade no 22-htg that was "improved" to an adjusted grade by the addition of the word adjusted to the barrel bridge. Whether any other changes were made is unclear, although this particular example does have a Breguet, rather than the expected flat, hairspring (most of the suspected grade 109s have flat hairsprings as do the grade 22s). The earliest documentary evidence for the grade 109 is from 1891, which is after the original Co. had failed; the machinery and stuff having then been purchased at auction by Rood and Cain. In 1891 the new owners were primarily finishing stuff on hand to sell in preparation for launching a new watch venture in Lancaster, Pa.

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  19. Greg Frauenhoff

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    An organization similar to the USJ Guild for which Aurora made a fair number of mvts was a group of New York and Jersey City jewelers known as the RJA or Retail Jewelers Assoc. Based on the partial surviving records (wherein some runs for RJA mvts are identified with a margin notation of NY Assoca.) and sighted examples, about 430 RJA mvts were made in a number of different grades. Unlike the USJG mvts, where a USJG monogram normally appears on the dial, the RJA mvts always (so far) have the name of the purchasing jewelers instead. Probably the highest grade Aurora with an RJA marking on is the grade no. 7-htg (and its open-face pendant setting equivalent no. 16), but it is estimated that only 6 such grade 7-htg RJA mvts were made.

    Run of grade 5-htg mvts 54641-648, all of which were sold to jewelers in either New York, Brooklyn or Jersey City, with the notation N. Y. Assoca. at the left.

    img527.jpg

    Mvt #73624 one of the 6 grade 7-htg RJA mvts believed to have been made. Dial is marked M. D. Gallagher, etc. (see pic). Followed by info from factory records showing it was sold to Gallagher on 10/13/88.

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  20. Greg Frauenhoff

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    18s mvt #46303, grade no. 22-htg, J. Kendall Smith, Newark, N. J. Most PLs for Smith (he ordered a fair number, as PLs go) are like the one below and have marked dials, in contrast to the grade no. 109 seen above.

    img529.jpg img530.jpg
     
  21. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Tom,

    Is the dial a 24 hr type?

    Greg
     
  22. Tom Huber

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    No Greg. A regular Roman dial

    Tom
     
  23. Greg Frauenhoff

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    18s mvt #75187, L. C. Garwood. Found without a dial. There was an L. C. Garwood in Champaign, Ill., about the time this mvt dates to. Given the s/n and location of the word "Adjusted" (on the barrel bridge) this is probably a relatively late Aurora (i. e. after the fall of 1889).

    img531.jpg
     
  24. Greg Frauenhoff

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    T
    Thanks. Many Aurora PLs for the Canadian market have 24 hr dials, but not all.
     
  25. Greg Frauenhoff

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    18s, mvt #80197 (grade 8-htg). Mvt signed Critzer Bros., San Antonio, Tex., as found (many years ago) with dial signed Made by Aurora Watch Co. for E. Richter. A modern switch? Was Richter the retail customer? I don't know, but I've never seen another Aurora dial like it. Other PLs for Critzer Bros. are known and they have matching Critzer Bros. dials.

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  26. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Two other J. C. Gray marked dials. Both were found on mvts with regular Aurora markings. The plainer one is on a 7 jewel key winder (grade 1-KW). Aurora dials with Arabic hour numerals (like the second dial) are uncommon.

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  27. Greg Frauenhoff

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  28. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Aurora made approx. 10000 18s key wind mvts, which represents approx. 10% of their total 18s production. A number of these have been found with PL markings on the dial and standard factory markings on the mvt. Below is an example of the rather uncommon (scarce?) PL marked KW mvt.

    18s, grade 6-KW, #62205, mvt marked N. A. Terrell, Charlottesville, Va. This one was found with an Aurora Watch Co. marked dial of a style not expected for a grade 6 (e. g. it is single sunk rather than DS as would be more likely) and came from a less than reliable dealer, as regards originality. But it is probably a rather late production piece (Rood and Cain era 1890-1892) when almost anything was possible. So who knows. The mvt is still neat and the gilding is still superb.

    img534.jpg
     
  29. Greg Frauenhoff

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    The plainest dials are on the plainest mvts (note the absence of decorative features such as 5 minute numbers and an inner circle). These 3 were found on 7 jewel grades with the regular factory markings.

    Charles Richards, El Dorado, Kan. (mvt #11487, grade no. 1-Htg). The somewhat longer Roman numerals is a feature usually seen only on early mvts (1884-early 1885).

    E. P. Sondberg, Fargo, D. T. (mvt #14427, grade no. 1-OF).

    C. F. Von Kanel, Massillon, O. (mvt #17210, grade no. 1-KW).

    img539.jpg img540.jpg img541.jpg
     
  30. Greg Frauenhoff

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    18 size mvt #81462 (grade 8-Htg, finished 10/15/88, ETP of this variant = 20), D. C. Jaccard, St. Louis, Mo., with correct Mermod, Jaccard & Co., St. Louis, Mo., dial. Higher grade and scarcer than the Goodman King grade. There are rumors of PL MJ&Co. in the 15 Ruby Jewels grade but I've not yet seen such.

    img542.jpg img543.jpg img544.jpg
     
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  31. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Neat watches. I'm still looking for a pic of the sister watch (marked Laurel) to your Minneapolis Watch Co. Arcade mvt. There is also a KW Arcade known that has some very unusual features. The later is at the bank and I will dig it out soon.
     
  32. luvsthetick

    luvsthetick Registered User

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    Thanks Greg.
    Anxious to see your KW Arcade. Hope you find the picture of the Laurel.
     
  33. Greg Frauenhoff

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    #33 Greg Frauenhoff, Jan 28, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
    Nothing yet on the Laurel, but I did come across pics of my stem-wind Arcade #38107. Like your #38103 it was finished on 1/25/88 and sold on 4/13/88 (see pic below). As I'm sure you know, Aurora made a very small number of New Model mvts for the Minneapolis Watch Co. From the factory records (which are nearly complete for the New Model grades) here are the following MWCo. grade nos. with their production totals: No. 61 (ETP =10), No. 65 (ETP = 20), No. 67 (ETP = 10), No. 73 (ETP = 20) and No. 75 (ETP = 10). Thus, ETP of all Minneapolis (New Model) mvts = 70. Of course, my KW Arcade (which is not a New Model) would increase the total slightly. Grade no. 65s and 67s are marked Laurel and no. 73s Arcade. I don't know about the markings on the other grades (I suspect no. 75s are marked Arcade).

    Known MWCo. New Model mvts (I need to add a couple more #s when I find them):
    Grade no. 73 (marked Arcade): 38103, 38107
    Grade no. 65 (marked Laurel): 120814, 120816
    Grade no. 67 (marked Laurel): 120614

    In the past several years 3 major Aurora collections have been dispersed at auction making this a fantastic time to pick up some very rare Auroras.

    18s, New Model mvt #38107, grade no. 73 (ETP = 20 for this variant).

    img545.jpg img546.jpg img547.jpg
     
  34. luvsthetick

    luvsthetick Registered User

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    Greg,

    Your PL Auroras are great, love the pictures.

    I got my Minneapolis Watch Co. Arcade quite by accident in Sept. of last year. At the time I posted about it in this forum (see thread posting below). Since it can never be in its original case I am fortunate it survived complete with its original dial and possibly original hands.

    Are you aware of any of its previous owners or did you record #38103 after I acquired it?


     
  35. Greg Frauenhoff

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    I recorded info on #38103 over 20 years ago and know the name of the person who reported it (they almost certainly owned it at the time).
     
  36. Greg Frauenhoff

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    More New Model mvts for Charles Stark. #55922, grade no. 79 (ETP = 150 for the Stark variant), #55503, grade no. 77 (ETP =90 for the Stark variant), and #120602, grade no. 67 (ETP = 190 for the Stark variant).

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  37. Greg Frauenhoff

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    2 different PL grades for L. D. Merrill, Sparta, Wis.

    18s, mvt #17928, grade no. 1-KW, w/ dial monogrammed "SWCo." (I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest it stands for Sparta Watch Co.). Note that the dial is very plain and lacks an inner circle.

    18s, mvt #121200, grade no. 2-KW, same dial except there is an inner circle (it's very faint). In general, dials on 7 jewel Auroras are plain with no 5 minute numbers or inner circle, and dials on grade no. 2 11 jewel mvts also have no 5 minute numbers but they do have an inner circle.

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  38. John Pavlik

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    I only have 1 nice example of an Aurora... Appears Greg has quite a few :).

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  39. John Pavlik

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    A higher grade... numbered 73328... private label dial & movement.. Alas missing the complete balance and cock...

    A200BAC2-C065-4FF3-AFAE-581D356C9884.jpeg
     
  40. John Pavlik

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    A new model # 126208 for the Canadian Charles Stark.. Arabic Dial, what a mess, with 24 her markings ..

    B90B1CE0-C7A4-4A21-90CD-EE7D4B9A7318.jpeg AA3D33F8-E287-465F-A2EA-84BB5AFFE182.jpeg
     
  41. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Super cool grade 113-htg. The red gold trim on these is often badly worn off, whereas yours looks quite good.
     
  42. Greg Frauenhoff

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    As I recall, this jeweler was in Milwaukee.
     
  43. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Mvt #93563, Made Expressly for the RJA, Lambert Bros. (etc.) on dial.

    img560.jpg img559.jpg
     
  44. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Here's another PL grade 113-htg near in number to yours, mvt #75119, James B. Hayden, Topeka, Kas.

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  45. johnbscott

    johnbscott Registered User
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    Feb 25, 2007
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    Having enjoyed this thread I thought I would try to make a contribution to it.

    Recently, I found Aurora 45877 18s HC complete running movement, fitted with Hurd's regulator and marked "Made Expressly for Maier & Woltmann". The dial seems unmarked, at first but, after reading the thread, I held the dial in oblique daylight and I could clearly see the remains of an almost obliterated inscription, in block letters, reading "MAIER & WOLTMAN AVOCA IA" (yes, just one N on the dial).

    The dial inscription is invisible to anyone who does not know to look for it and there are no signs of dial enamel abrasion that might have resulted from removal of the dial inscription. I had been looking for a nice replacement dial, perhaps marked for Aurora, but now that I know that the present dial is original, it will stay in place.

    The movement is of good quality, with gold jewel settings, gilt (at least) or gold balance screws and a double sunk dial. It appears to be an entirely original horological gem from the mid 1880s.

    Aurora 18s 45877 movtR.jpg Aurora 18s 45877 dialR.jpg
     
  46. Greg Frauenhoff

    Greg Frauenhoff Registered User
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    Aug 25, 2000
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    John,

    Wonderful Aurora and special kudos for discovering the faint remains of the misspelled (?) name on the dial.

    Your #45877 is from a run of grade no. 46 mvts, a grade number that was set aside for USJ Guild mvts. Perhaps Maier & Woltmann were Guild members who preferred their name on the mvt rather than the Guild trademark. In any event, the factory records (see below) show that they ordered 3 (at least) mvts and that these were sold to them on 7/19/89. The records also show Woltman (one N).

    img562.jpg
     
  47. Greg Frauenhoff

    Greg Frauenhoff Registered User
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    Aug 25, 2000
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    #47 Greg Frauenhoff, Jan 29, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
    This private label "New Model" Aurora was ordered by the Justice
    Jobbing Co. of Chicago and is marked Chronometer, Chicago. However, it was finished after Aurora's
    failure in late in 1889 and subsequent purchase by Rood and Cain.
    So it was probably sold to another party, or used to settle obligations
    to various creditors or former employees.

    Only 40 (in nickel) are estimated to have been made of which
    4 are known (to me anyway).

    182542-9585cc15b180684359e491cc43127fac.jpg

    It has a double sunk dial signed Aurora Watch Co. If it had been finished and sold prior to the late 1889 failure it should have left the factory with a dial marked The J. J. Co. There is also a gilt version of this movement (ETP of only 90) and most of these were finished prior to the failure and so some of these have The J. J. Co. dials on them. However, the nickel version wasn't finished until after the failure, hence none of these have JJCo. dials on them.

    A similar "dial problem" is known for the mvts marked "Caulfield for Railway Service" (see post above).

    Here is the gilt version with The J. J. Co. dial:

    182827-3cc77a78e80e050b04b2eec3b7c88022.jpg 182828-12ead297f71952956439bc091ac532c8.jpg

    S/ns of Chronometer mvts with info on dials:
    Gilt:
    64103---DS Aurora Watch Co.
    64113---DS R. H. Ayer
    64120---DS The J. J. Co.
    64133---?
    64138---?
    64139---?
    64156---DS The J. J. Co.
    64169---DS Aurora Watch Co.
    Nickel:
    82573---DS W. E. Cawood, Toledo, O.
    82586---DS Aurora Watch Co.
    82591---DS Aurora Watch Co.
    142489 (this one is NOT a New Model)---?
     
  48. Greg Frauenhoff

    Greg Frauenhoff Registered User
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    Aug 25, 2000
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  49. Greg Frauenhoff

    Greg Frauenhoff Registered User
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    Updated w/ another number.
     
  50. Greg Frauenhoff

    Greg Frauenhoff Registered User
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    Aug 25, 2000
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    J. P. Stevens & Bro., Atlanta, Ga., was a major buyer of Aurora mvts. In all this firm ordered nearly 1200 New Model mvts (in 12 different grades) with their name and, almost always, the Stevens' patent disc regulator on them.

    18s, mvt #141904, grade no. 66 (ETP for the Stevens' variant of this grade = 545).
    img569.jpg
    18s, mvt #213175, grade no. 63 (ETP for the Stevens' variant of this grade = 115), with Stevens' regulator.
    img567.jpg
    18s, mvt #212128, grade no. 63, note absence of Stevens' regulator.
    img568.jpg
     

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