Civil War History?

Keith R...

NAWCC Member
Nov 27, 2012
Ray, I sent you another Tex flag from about 1840 via email. My earliest American case is 1825.
My 1811 verge for American market is 1811 but in an English case.

Folks need to know most MI Tobias watches were for the American market. Josh Johnson is
another early maker for the American market. You have a nice Tobias Ray. Most of the Liverpool
watch trade came to the American market. Here's the American verge 1811 out of Liverpool.

Keith R...

KVERGE (800x600).jpg

Keith R...

NAWCC Member
Nov 27, 2012
I think for the history of watch and clocks, the ports of New York and the city of Philadelphia
were integral links between the US and Liverpool. I have posted a set of Rack levers on the
European side with time lines of early rack levers that includes Ray's MI Tobias (ref),
demonstrating an early time line for Liverpool watches and the US territory.

The following watch makers provided raw movements to the US and many were cased in
the US, either in New York or Philadelphia:

MI Tobias, Morris Tobias, SI Tobias, Joseph Johnson, Lewis Samuel, Litherland & Whitesides.

Many of the London makers arrived in complete hallmarked cases. Rich Newman's site also
has a great deal of information on American colonial watch makers.

A vast number of these examples were handed down father to son and were present
during the Civil war era. Many of these watches were imported through American jewelers
in the US, pre and post civil war.

Keith R...
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Keith R...

NAWCC Member
Nov 27, 2012
Allan reminds me I left out Roskell, which I did. According to the last June 2018 Roskell file,
Hallmarked watch Roskell #7550 is circa 1812. So I felt safe calling this movement #7414
of mine 1812. So add Roskell racks to my list for Liverpool watch makers.

I also excluded Vale & Co., but they are Coventry. Also add Litherland from London,
for rack levers.

Keith R...

JJ357 (800x711).jpg jj399 (800x690).jpg jj402 (800x600).jpg
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Clint Geller

Gibbs Literary Award
NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Jul 12, 2002
Pittsburgh, PA
The majority of watches carried by Civil War soldiers were undoubtedly foreign since, as has already been mentioned, many of them were heirloom pieces predating the American watch industry, and the total output of the American factories (primarily Waltham), which was only about 150,000 mens watches by mid-1865, could not supply the entire demand, and could still not sell watches as cheaply as some foreign competitors. (To the contrary, American watches were being advertised as best buys, as well as patriotic buys, not cheapest buys.) This subject is discussed at greater depth in my upcoming book.

Of course, my own focus is on watches with documented Civil War provenances. The majority of these are presentation pieces, and these skew much more heavily toward American watches than the typical soldier's watch of the period. There are at least a couple of reasons for this:

1. Patriotic pride
2. Most presentation watches are from the Union side, where American watches were both more plentiful and more desired. (There were no American watch factories in the Confederate states.) This is because watches were especially favored for end-of-service presentations when, unlike other common war-time presentation items like swords, they would continue to be useful to the recipient after he transitioned back to civilian life. But since the South lost the war, there wasn't nearly as much back slapping and mutual congratulation at the end of it.

Of the ten Civil War provenance watches currently in my collection, all but one are presentation watches. The other is a watch on which the owner himself had his name engraved. Here's how they break down:

8 American watches
1 unsigned 15 jewel Swiss Lepine Caliber Type V movement in an American case
1 English 7 jewel Liverpudlian 3/4 plate movement in an American case

8 cases are 18K gold. All but one of these were presented to commissioned officers.
2 cases are coin silver. One was professionally engraved at the request of the owner, and the other was presented to a sergeant by his unit.
All are hunting style, key wind and key set (all other winding/setting combinations being very rare at that time)
All have gilded plates (though Swiss watches with nickel plates did exist)

Of the 8 American watches, 7 are Walthams and one is a Howard Model 1861 3/4 plate (a.k.a., "Series III")
Of the 7 Walthams, 3 are Model 1857's, one is a Model 1859, 2 are 16KWs and one is a 20KW
All but the Model 1857s are AT&Co Grade. Of the 3 M57's, 2 are AT&Co Grade, one is PS Bartlett Grade.
All the watches presented to commissioned officers are AT&Co Grade.

1 watch slightly predates the war; 4 were presented either at the beginning of, or during the recipient's war time service; 5 were presented either at the immediate conclusion of the recipient's war-time service, or somewhat thereafter. All 9 presentations were made by the recipients' respective comrades in arms.

The following combat units are either directly or indirectly represented in my collection (some men served in multiple units over the course of the war):

Salem (MA) Zoaves
19th MA Infantry
50th MA Infantry
59th MA Infantry
15th PA Cavalry (a.k.a., the "Anderson Cavalry," named in honor of Maj. General Robert Anderson, who as a major had commanded the Union garrison at Ft. Sumter)
52nd PA Infantry (a.k.a., the "Luzerne Regiment," from Luzerne Cy., PA)
Fuller's Ohio Brigade (27th, 39th, 43rd, and 63rd OH Infantry)
Michigan Cavalry Brigade (the original "Wolverines," including the 1st, 5th, 6th, and 7th MI Cavalry, and Battery M, 2nd US Artillery)
2nd IN Cavalry
12th IN Cavalry
95th IL Infantry
25th MI Infantry (the "Green River Boys")
14th KY Mounted Infantry (who traveled on horseback, but fought on foot with infantry weapons. In a European army, they would have been classified as "dragoons.")

Many of the above units had quite illustrious combat histories.

Most, if not all of these watches will be on display at the NAWCC Museum in Columbia next summer.
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E. Howard & Co. by Clint Geller