Coin Silver Cases

pocket2100

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Several times now I have invested in some silver coins. Never a whole lot, just when I think of it I buy some more and keep stocking up as a safety net type of investment. This has started to spill over into my watch collection now. As I've been collecting watches over the past year, I've found myself highly drawn toward the silver cases, not just for a silver value, but I just love silver in addition to the amazing craftsmanship of these watches. Even if a watch is damaged or a case has a few dings, I still try to collect them at a reasonable price for my enjoyment, potential investment, but also to ensure someone doesn't scrap it. Nothing would sadden me more than to see a silver case survive that long just to be scrapped.

I have seen a few other similar topics spin up on this, and they don't seem to get very far, but I'll try once again with a slight twist. What are the known silver (coin or sterling) case designations that can help in determining how much silver and if it is even solid silver?

For instance, I have some cases that show 3 or 4 to indicate roughly 3 or 4 ounces. But I have seen others with 3A or 3*. What does the A or star mean if anything? There was another thread where the star was believed to be an extra 1/2 oz, but when someone tested that, seems it almost indicates it's 1/2 oz less. Also, is there a way to tell if a case has a base metal under the silver? To date, I am only aware of one of my cases that has this based on feedback I received here. It has a screw-on back cover, so I tend to stay away from any screw-on type silver watches now as I would assume they likely have some base metal to ensure the threads are strong enough.

As for weight, I know you can only be sure after weighing a case without the watch, and I know you likely cannot be sure about a base metal unless you want to destroy the case. I was wondering if there is a book you all would recommend that could shed some light on the different cases out there. I would love to read about how they were made, any special indicators on the cases to look for, details about sizing, weight, quality, etc, and if there's details about serial numbers, that would be amazing.

Thanks for any info you can share.
 
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musicguy

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Rick Hufnagel

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I believe the A refers to the cap being nickel on Fahys cases. It used to be called "Albata" metal.

Dueber "Newport" is the same. Coin Silver with a nickel cap.

Dueber anchor in shield is the better solid silver case.

I don't think there is one reference... But looking through old trade magazines or jobbers catalogs will sometimes get you a description.

Will post examples later on. Good topic. It would be great to gather images or descriptions from period advertisements or catalogs that explain some of the silver cases.
 

pocket2100

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Thanks for the link to the case topics, that will be very useful. Will be on vacation next week, so it will give me something to read when kicking back.

Thanks for the info about the A indicator for Albata. I have often wondered about those machine turned dust caps that just do not look like silver. The question I would have is how were these "Albata" cases weighed? Is the 3 oz indicator inclusive or exclusive of the non-silver Albata dust cover? My guess would be inclusive, but maybe someone has weighed things out and knows for sure.
 

pocket2100

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Also, does anyone know if there an easy indicator of what is solid vs non-solid silver cases? What to look for? I had assumed most US silver cases were solid unless they were the screw-on type.
 

Tom McIntyre

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Since all of the links to the Encyclopedia in the post work for me, I need a little more information on what folks cannot see.
You can see all the existing articles on American Pocket watches at https://mb.nawcc.org/wiki/Encyclopedia-Subjects/American-Pocket-Watches.

Using the sticky threads to refer to Encyclopedia articles seems a little confusing to me. The original idea behind those stickies was to organize some of the better threads on watches from the forums.

The Encyclopedia is primarily a curation activity where someone so inclined and with a bit of skill organizes the topic for ease of understanding. It is roughly the same thing a museum curator does to organize the collection for better understanding. The Encyclopedia itself is collaborative, like Wikipedia, so that some may gather and others may edit and still others create finding aids and topical structure.

We have been trying to persuade someone to manage the Encyclopedia for over 10 years now with little success.
 

musicguy

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pocket2100

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Just for my own clarification, when you say an Albata "cap", are you referring to the dust cover on the back? Not the outer case, but the inner cover that would have a hole for the key?
 

PatH

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Tom McIntyre
In the below encyclopedia article, these two links open a Xenforo log in screen
1892 ad,
fall of 1893.

While this one Case Material takes me to the Forums list page https://mb.nawcc.org/?title=Case+Material

Hope this helps explain what we see when reading many of the encyclopedia articles. Perhaps we should take this to a different thread?

Thanks,
Pat

The Bay State Watch Case Co. Boston, MA, had what seems to be a brief history, from about 1889 to when it was absorbed by Crescent in 1893.
Bay State: A Very Brief History

The Bay State Watch Case Co., Boston, MA, was making cases as early as 1889, according to page 52 of History of the American Watch Case, Warren H. Niebling, Whitmore Publishing, Philadelphia, PA, 1971 (available on loan by mail to members from the NAWCC Lending Library).

According to a 1892 ad, the line consited of gold, gold-filled, and silver cases. The firm also was known to have manufactured nickel cases, under the trade name "Argentine" (see the Case Material Encyclopedia article for an explanation of the terms).

Bay State was taken over by the Crescent Watch Case Co. in the fall of 1893.
 

Tom McIntyre

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I had a chance to track this down enough to know what the error is. Our Encyclopedia does not use the same format for images as the discussions do. The Encyclopedia developer is very good at leading me through what to do or doing it himself.

It appears that something went awry during the last upgrade because clicking on those pictures shows a screen asking for credentials to continue the "upgrade."

I will get in touch with him tomorrow and should have some progress by Monday.
 

grtnev

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Thanks Tom,

I appreciate your time & efforts.

For me, dealing with broken links (and at times searching for information on this forum or the Bulletin archives on the main site) has been very frustrating. I don’t know but would guess at least some of the issues stem from different developers using different platforms without standardization.

Say what you will about PWDB, it is easy to navigate, search, and find the information that you are looking for regarding prominent American manufacturers.

IMHO it would be great if NAWCC information was as readily accessible to the membership.

Thanks again for your time & efforts.

Richard
 
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