Aurora Private Label Watches

James J Nicholson

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I am curious about the Balcom connection with Rockford. I have a private label Rockford with WC Balcom on the dial. Was this a relative of Frank?
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.

View attachment 459487
 

Rick Hufnagel

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39941 - 'W. J. Kemler, Pittsburgh, Pa.'

View attachment 553977 View attachment 553978
There are two Kemlers. John William, the father and William John the son.

I can't begin to tell you how much these two names convoluted the search untill It came to light that it was separate people.

This is from 1879 book:
Industries of Pittsburgh, null.
https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=691PAQAAMAAJ


JOHN W. KEMLER,-Watches, Clocks, etc., 1823 Carson St. Mr. Kemler, who is located at No. 1823 Carson st., near 19th st., commenced business in 1861, without capital. He has succeeded in building up a trade which now reaches about $5,000 per annum, and carries a stock of Watches, Clocks, Spectacles, Jewelry and especially Opera Glasses in large variety. His store occupies a building 20x filled with neat and desirable goods. He was born in Germany, in 1837, and came to this city in 1844. represented his ward in the city council, and has a large influence in that part of the city.

As you can see, this is not the person on the watch, but his father. Below is what I've found on W.J.


William John Kemler is our person of interest.

Born Dec 5, 1855
Died March 5, 1924 of pneumonia
(Only three months after his father)

In 1880 he still lived with his Father, and is listed as a watchmaker.

He, his father who started the business, and his sister all lived and worked at the jewelery store. I can't find anything about it after 1924 when he passed.
He was never married, no children, just the three of them and a jewelery shop. The business ran from 1861 to 1924, that's a pretty good stretch!

In 1899, his father left the jewelery store and moved to Knoxville and opened a new store on Arlington Ave. (It's not all that far from the original location). Leaving William and his sister Anna on their own in the original store.
(This was making research hard as well because this random address kept popping up that didn't match). Thankfully this jewelers circular cleared things up with the information on John W. Moving and starting another store.

The Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review



I took a drive down to East Carson st a while back (it's only a few miles) There is a boarded up, beat up old building with the adress 1823 East Carson. I actually didn't take a picture of it, but this one is from Google maps.

Screenshot_20200626-222516~2.png

If you look at these shots below from an 1872 map, this is how I confirmed the building.
Borough of Birmingham, East Birmingham | Historic Pittsburgh

Here is the Birmingham section of Southside. It's one of the older sections and there are still some buildings from way back in the 1850s and 60s, although the historical site says the facades have been heavily remodeled over the years.

Screenshot_20200627-000244~3.png

Here is a close up of 1823 Carson st just above the red dot. J.W. Kemler's name on the lot.
Screenshot_20200627-000233~3.png

So the map, and the building shown above match. Could it be the original building?? I suppose the bones of the structure could be.

The pictures are above in Dave's post, bought it a little while back. It now lives in a glass back and is a great part of my private label collection. Allot of fun to research as well.

Thanks for reading my madness and have a good day!
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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Estimated total production of Aurora mvts Made Expressly for the RJA is 430. Below are the known or suspected runs (which only account for 381 of the estimate) along with info on known examples. Correct dials are invariably marked with the name of the original purchasing jeweler with location being in either New York or Jersey City.

38911-9000 (38921 dial "M. L. Sheehan, 785 Eighth Ave. N. Y.", 38984 dial "C. L. Nicholson, Brooklyn N. Y.", 38986 dial "August Kost, Jersey City", 38989 dial "Aurora Watch Co." is likely incorrect)
45651-655 (45654 dial "Adolph Hank, New York")
45731-740
46201-210 (46208 dial "F. Schaub, Jersey City")
46221-230
46241-250
46331-340
46371-380
46391-394
46793-796
46800
48481-483
54641-648 (54643 dial "A. Walter, Jersey City")
54694-695 (54695 dial "H. P. Donnelly, 497 Sixth Ave. N. Y.")
55231
71894-896
73529 (73529 dial "August Kost, Jersey City")
73621-625 (73624 dial "M. D. Gallagher, 649 Sixtx Ave. N. Y.")
73890
91821-830 (91822 dial "Aurora" is likely incorrect)
91871-880 (91872 dial "Henry Kayton, 547 Third Ave. N. Y.", 91878 dial "Geo. W. Wright, 279 W. 125th St. N. Y.")
93561-570 (93563 dial "Lambert Bros., 58th & Third Ave. N. Y.")
113021-030 (113022 dial "S. H. Ebenstein, New York")
121264-266
121281-290 (121288 dial ?)
122801-805
123292-300
123311-320
123341-350 (123344 dial "L. Koloseus, New York")
123351-380
123381-390
123801-810
123811-820
123831-840
123841-850
125681-690 (125686 dial ?)
126271-276
126471-480
 
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Greg Frauenhoff

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Updated list:

Estimated total production of Aurora mvts Made Expressly for the RJA is 430. Below are the known or suspected runs (which only account for 381 of the estimate) along with info on known examples. Correct dials are invariably marked with the name of the original purchasing jeweler with location being in either New York or Jersey City.

38911-9000 (38921 dial "M. L. Sheehan, 785 Eighth Ave. N. Y.", 38984 dial "C. L. Nicholson, Brooklyn N. Y.",
38986 dial "August Kost, Jersey City", 38989 dial "Aurora Watch Co." is likely incorrect, 3995 dial ?)
45651-655 (45654 dial "Adolph Hank, New York")
45731-740
46201-210 (46208 dial "F. Schaub, Jersey City")
46221-230
46241-250
46331-340
46371-380
46391-394
46793-796
46800
48481-483
54641-648 (54643 dial "A. Walter, Jersey City")
54694-695 (54695 dial "H. P. Donnelly, 497 Sixth Ave. N. Y.")
55231
71894-896
73529 (73529 dial "August Kost, Jersey City")
73621-625 (73624 dial "M. D. Gallagher, 649 Sixtx Ave. N. Y.")
73890
91821-830 (91822 dial "Aurora" is likely incorrect)
91871-880 (91872 dial "Henry Kayton, 547 Third Ave. N. Y.", 91878 dial "Geo. W. Wright, 279 W. 125th St. N. Y.")
93561-570 (93563 dial "Lambert Bros., 58th & Third Ave. N. Y.")
113021-030 (113022 dial "S. H. Ebenstein, New York")
121264-266
121281-290 (121288 dial ?)
122801-805
123292-300
123311-320
123341-350 (123344 dial "L. Koloseus, New York")
123351-380
123381-390
123801-810
123811-820
123831-840
123841-850
125681-690 (125686 dial ?)
126271-276
126471-480
 

Greg Frauenhoff

NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Aug 25, 2000
4,890
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113
Updated list:

Estimated total production of Aurora mvts Made Expressly for the RJA is 430. Below are the known or suspected runs (which only account for 381 of the estimate) along with info on known examples. Correct dials are invariably marked with the name of the original purchasing jeweler with location being in either New York or Jersey City.

38911-9000 (38921 dial "M. L. Sheehan, 785 Eighth Ave. N. Y.", 38983 dial Lambert Bros., etc., 38984 dial "C. L. Nicholson, Brooklyn N. Y.",
38986 dial "August Kost, Jersey City", 38989 dial "Aurora Watch Co." is likely incorrect, 38995 dial ?)
45651-655 (45654 dial "Adolph Hank, New York")
45731-740
46201-210 (46208 dial "F. Schaub, Jersey City")
46221-230
46241-250
46331-340
46371-380
46391-394
46793-796
46800
48481-483
54641-648 (54643 dial "A. Walter, Jersey City")
54694-695 (54695 dial "H. P. Donnelly, 497 Sixth Ave. N. Y.")
55231
71894-896
73529 (73529 dial "August Kost, Jersey City")
73621-625 (73624 dial "M. D. Gallagher, 649 Sixtx Ave. N. Y.")
73890
91821-830 (91822 dial "Aurora" is likely incorrect)
91871-880 (91872 dial "Henry Kayton, 547 Third Ave. N. Y.", 91878 dial "Geo. W. Wright, 279 W. 125th St. N. Y.")
93561-570 (93563 dial "Lambert Bros., 58th & Third Ave. N. Y.")
113021-030 (113022 dial "S. H. Ebenstein, New York")
121264-266
121281-290 (121288 dial ?)
122801-805
123292-300
123311-320
123341-350 (123344 dial "L. Koloseus, New York")
123351-380
123381-390
123801-810
123811-820
123831-840
123841-850
125681-690 (125686 dial ?)
126271-276
126471-480
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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Frank L. Nuse, Titusville, Pa. (on mvt) with dial signed Frank L. Nuse

A & E Meyer (dial only marked)

L. Lechenger, Eagle Pass, Tex. (dial only marked)
 

Old rookie

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Another Aurora PL for Caulfield 140667 marked for Railway Service. It fits neatly into Greg Frauenhoff's listings in posts 10,95, 135, and 140 of this thread. It appears it was sold prior to 11/89. Here's the puzzle: It also has a dedication from father to son dated 10/24/17 at Omaha, Nebr.
Could this watch have made it to San Francisco and somehow made its way back to Omaha:???: Is there a possible connection to the Union Pacific Railroad since San Francisco and Omaha are important points for the UP? Caul1.jpg Caul2.jpg Caul3.jpg Caul4.jpg
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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Another Aurora PL for Caulfield 140667 marked for Railway Service. It fits neatly into Greg Frauenhoff's listings in posts 10,95, 135, and 140 of this thread. It appears it was sold prior to 11/89. Here's the puzzle: It also has a dedication from father to son dated 10/24/17 at Omaha, Nebr.
Could this watch have made it to San Francisco and somehow made its way back to Omaha:???: Is there a possible connection to the Union Pacific Railroad since San Francisco and Omaha are important points for the UP? View attachment 655515 View attachment 655516 View attachment 655517 View attachment 655518
Always good to see one of these. Congrats!

As for the inscription, there look to be extra screws marks in the case which suggests a re-case is possible.
 
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Steven Thornberry

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Always good to see one of these. Congrats!

As for the inscription, there look to be extra screws marks in the case which suggests a re-case is possible.
Perhaps the inscription was done at the time of the recase, a Father recasing his own watch to make a gift to his son?
 
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musicguy

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Perhaps the inscription was done at the time of the recase, a Father recasing his own watch to make a gift to his son?
It's truly wishful thinking and totally conjecture, but could be true :) . I would
just assume that anytime that we have a re-case we really should assume that the inscription
does not go with the movement unless we have some family history. I have myself
re cased movements into cases with inscriptions.


Rob
 
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Greg Frauenhoff

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Just a general thought on Aurora watches. Aurora made far fewer watches than the industry giants Waltham and Elgin and considerably fewer than Hamilton and Illinois. As a consequence, when an interesting loose Aurora mvt is found it is much more likely to be recased in a case having obvious extra screw marks than the aforementioned. In my own collection I highly treasure the Auroras that have come to me in what is likely their original cases. But I don't pooh-pooh the others.

Which reminds me of an Aurora in my collection (in a likely original mvt/case combination) that has an inscription from father to son dated around 1905. Since Aurora was by that time long out of business I've always suspected that this represents a gift from father to son.
 
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Old rookie

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Just a general thought on Aurora watches. Aurora made far fewer watches than the industry giants Waltham and Elgin and considerably fewer than Hamilton and Illinois. As a consequence, when an interesting loose Aurora mvt is found it is much more likely to be recased in a case having obvious extra screw marks than the aforementioned. In my own collection I highly treasure the Auroras that have come to me in what is likely their original cases. But I don't pooh-pooh the others.

Which reminds me of an Aurora in my collection (in a likely original mvt/case combination) that has an inscription from father to son dated around 1905. Since Aurora was by that time long out of business I've always suspected that this represents a gift from father to son.
Please post some photos of that watch.
 

Old rookie

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Another contribution to this very interesting thread is another Aurora grade 7 Htg PL for the D.C.Jaccard Watch Co., St. Louis, Mo. marked Jaccard Railway Watch, Kansas City, Mo. These watches were previously discussed and described by Greg Frauenhoff in posts 101,102, and 143 of this thread.
All I can add is a serial number 73340 which is one number beyond a watch in G jrw1.jpg jrw2.jpg jrw3.jpg reg's collection. jrw4.jpg
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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Another contribution to this very interesting thread is another Aurora grade 7 Htg PL for the D.C.Jaccard Watch Co., St. Louis, Mo. marked Jaccard Railway Watch, Kansas City, Mo. These watches were previously discussed and described by Greg Frauenhoff in posts 101,102, and 143 of this thread.
All I can add is a serial number 73340 which is one number beyond a watch in G View attachment 662016 View attachment 662017 View attachment 662018 reg's collection. View attachment 662019
Nice find! Congrats. Adjusted, nickel, DS dial, Breguet hairspring, patent regulator, open morning glory hands...what's not to like? A true 1880s era railroad grade watch.
 

Old rookie

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Greg, based on your Aurora research do you have an ETP for these watches?
 
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Greg Frauenhoff

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I showed this Indianapolis jeweler's mvt above but only as an old black-and-white picture. Here is a color one. This mvt was finished in Sept. 1887 and is, therefore, one of Aurora's earliest two-tone products. In fact, Aurora got into the two-tone finish game very early compared with most other American makers.

P1050297.JPG P1050298.JPG
 

musicguy

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A fine looking movement and dial.


Rob
 

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