Collecting Question

breyfogle

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About two years ago now, I found myself hopelessly addicted to acquiring and carrying old pocket watches after inheriting a family heirloom PW. Everyone I know thinks I'm crazy when a $10 plastic quartz watch is far more accurate, more reliable and much cheaper. BUT, my small collection now totals 5, including a Waltham, a Hampden, an Illinois, a no-name swiss bar movement watch (the family piece), and even a new Chinese knockoff skeleton watch.

I would like to expand my search for interesting new acquisitions beyond ebay auctions. Where does everyone else look for their next prized addition ?

Other websites ?
Brick & mortar jewelers? antique stores ?
NAMCC events ?
Something else ?
 

richiec

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I troll antique shops, NAWCC marts, ebay, once in a while an estate sale and flea markets. Don't get a lot of bargains at marts or antique shops. The good thing about marts is you get to see the seller and hope he is bound by a good rule of ethics. Used to get some good deals on ebay but lately with the fees going up and the price of precious metals rising daily it is getting harder and harder.
 

Dr. Jon

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I troll Ebay but I get most of my goodies from a fw dealers who know mw and what I like.

I aso buy at auction. I spend a lot of time preparing for these and try not to be confused by the crowd. I know a lot of bidders at the auctions and I'll raise my estimate if a dealer I know is bidding against me. Other times I make a deal with them

Once I was bidding against the person sitting next to me. I knew the next item was the same model and about the same condition. I offered to drop out if he would let me get the next one and that is what we did.

Bottom line is know your watches and who you are buying from and with.

I have found with rare exception NAWCC marts are a waste of time for pocket watches but good for tools and parts.. For watches, it is largely the same old stuff no one has wanted for the last ten years, at ridiculous prices. It has been this way for the thirty of so years I have been going. Exception is Chapter 1 Marts in Philadelphia area. Every one I have attended has been great. National and regionals are much better, more professional dealers. Also people who travel that far usually are serious about moving stuff.
 

Clint Geller

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I must respectfully disagree with my knowledgable collecting colleague Dr. Weber concerning the value of attending NAWCC Marts. He is certainly correct that Marts are no longer the feeding frenzies they used to be, but I heard the same complaint 27+ years ago when I started in this hobby. Nevertheless, at the most recent national convention I purchased a Dennison Howard & Davis Model 1857, a highly desirabe and historically important watch, in the only gold "BWCo." case I have seen in the past 20 years, and at a very favorable price. It had been sitting out on a dealer's table for a day and a half with any number of Waltham experts streaming past it (and directly opposite a knowledgable friend's table), but they all had missed it, because they obviously hadn't really looked.

This was not a fluke. At a previous national in Atlanta I purchased an extremely rare Howard in the first 5 minutes after the Mart opened. The last time it sold, it fetched more than twelve times my purchase price. I have purchased many other bargains at NAWCC shows through the years. And as your knowledge grows, the more your opportunities for good purchases will expand. The more you know, the more you see!

But the most valuable aspect of attending NAWCC shows is not the watches you buy that day, but the people you meet and establish relationships with. To be a successful collector you need to know a lot of things which you can't learn from books alone, if at all: Who owns the kinds of watches you want to buy; who is buying them, who is selling them, who makes the market for them, who is an expert in the field whose information and advice you can trust, where to find parts, where to get work done, who is good to do business with and whom to avoid, and so much more. If you're a begignner who is serious about the hobby, you would be foolish not to attend NAWCC events.
 

Kevin W.

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I guess Bryan you have to be invited to that website as i tried in the past and my emails were never answered.
 

ben_hutcherson

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A lot of what I buy anymore comes from the Ch.149 E-mart. Not to incessantly plug it, but I've been able to buy a lot of good and reasonably priced items there.

My luck has also been good at regional Marts, but primarily buying from trusted sellers. At the last one I attended, I bought a couple of 1859 model movements from two different sellers-one turned out decent(not great), but the other wasn't such a good buy. So, caution is definitely warranted in that area, although in my experience the good often outweighs the bad.

115.jpg

I've had good luck also with local flea markets and antique dealers. One, in particular, has turned up some very nice watches(like my Illinois C&O Special), and I get the first crack at them since I also do the repairs for him.
 

Kevin W.

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I have had good luck buying from people i know.Fred Hansen has a good web site and i have bought from him often.The restored Illinois i posted a while back came from him.Knowledge and honesty and trust are all important.I rarely buy and pocket watches from Ebay.
I can,t over stress the more contacts you have the better to find watches.And joining the NAWCC can help as well.
 

Dr. Jon

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I don't think Clint and I disagree as much as he wrote. His examples were from national events and I wrote that regional and national events are much better than local ones, and his examples were from nationals.

I too got great buys at national and regional events and long after the opening "feeding frenzy". I have occasionally gotten good buys at local NAWCC marts, but rarely. Around here, I usually go to the local flea markets when there is a local NAWCC mart. It reduces my competition.

I am in the New England area. Marts here are rarely worth the trip. As I wrote, the Philadelphia chapter 1 mart has been great when I have attended, and that spans many years. Perhaps Clint's area does better also.

I still recommend joining NAWCC and meeting members, but the most productive dealers for me don't usually go to local meetings any more. In that sense, a local mart is a good thing to do because it shows what to avoid.

My point is that most good buys come from long association with people who know each other.
 

Snide

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In the end, you can't just close the door on any potential source. I bought a 19 Jewel Model 99 Crescent St on ebay from a BIG watch dealer in a bin for $250. Over the past 6 months I have gotten 2 great buys at antique shows. Antique shops are tough and my luck has not been good there but I know someone who has done very well with them. I don't think Marts are quite what they use to be but the National is always great and I have managed to do OK most times at most of the Regionals I have attented.

You can't learn enough about what you are looking for. When I start looking at Illinois watches my head starts to swim 'cause I just can't keep them all straight. Fortunately for us lesser mortals, more and more databases are available on line and then it's great to own a smartphone. Repairs and parts are certainly a consideration but much of what you see is sold as is and if there is a problem, it could get costly if the seller does not back up his merchandise. And sometimes, you'll just make a mistake. I bought an 18 size 19 jewel Illinois-don't remember the grade or model (although I should)-at an auction. Only a few hundered of them made. Got it for a great price and then realized the barrel bridge did not match the train bridge. Sold it for less than I paid for it. As my father use to say, "it costs money to learn how to play pool".

Good luck and happy hunting.
 
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Clint Geller

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I do agree with Jon's assessment that the time and expense of attending most local NAWCC chapter marts may not be justified based upon immediate purchasing opportunities available there alone. At such meetings the lucky find is a rare event. Although even in my sleepy little, mostly clock oriented chapter (#37, Allegheny) it occasionally does happen. A friend of mine purchased a signed Charles Jacot tourbillion pivoted detent chronomenter movement there once for $800. On another occasion, I purchased a Civil War era Model 1857 Waltham, a P.S. Bartlett, from the same seller. Upon later inspection in better light, it revealed an 11-line diary meticulously scratched into the inside of the rear lid with a pin or knife point by a soldier in US Grant's Army of the Potomac during the Wilderness Campaign of May, 1864. Needless to say, I was both stunned and delighted by the discovery.

Thus while there is less merchandise to choose from at small, local shows, there is also less knowledgable competition to snap up what shows up. This said, I will admit, to Jon's point, that I don't attend local chapter meetings anymore. However, if I were a novice looking to make the acquaintance of other collectors, that would change my calculus considerably. Furthermore, local meetings not infrequently have worthwhile speakers.
 

CZHACK

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eBay is a great source if the listing 1) has good quality photos, 2) seller has close to 100% rating, 3) no false or puffed description, and 4) seller is not focused on antiques and not from watch/clock "experts" (as these are usually over priced). You cant beat eBay for its selection across various makers, type, price range, country, year etc, etc. Mike
 

Clint Geller

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Pardon my typos on my previous post. That should have been "tourbillon chronometer," not "tourbillion chronomenter."
 

breyfogle

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Mar 25, 2009
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Interesting: I just checked the Chapter149 MB and found that JonH cross posted my original question on their MB, without attribution. I'm not sure if I'm pleased to gain the wider dissemination of my simple original question or if I've been insulted by being called a "greenie bored" (whatever that is...)
 

Jeff Hess

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Mr. Geller nailed it. Great thread overall and terrific post below.

Jeff

I must respectfully disagree with my knowledgable collecting colleague Dr. Weber concerning the value of attending NAWCC Marts. He is certainly correct that Marts are no longer the feeding frenzies they used to be, but I heard the same complaint 27+ years ago when I started in this hobby. Nevertheless, at the most recent national convention I purchased a Dennison Howard & Davis Model 1857, a highly desirabe and historically important watch, in the only gold "BWCo." case I have seen in the past 20 years, and at a very favorable price. It had been sitting out on a dealer's table for a day and a half with any number of Waltham experts streaming past it (and directly opposite a knowledgable friend's table), but they all had missed it, because they obviously hadn't really looked.

This was not a fluke. At a previous national in Atlanta I purchased an extremely rare Howard in the first 5 minutes after the Mart opened. The last time it sold, it fetched more than twelve times my purchase price. I have purchased many other bargains at NAWCC shows through the years. And as your knowledge grows, the more your opportunities for good purchases will expand. The more you know, the more you see!

But the most valuable aspect of attending NAWCC shows is not the watches you buy that day, but the people you meet and establish relationships with. To be a successful collector you need to know a lot of things which you can't learn from books alone, if at all: Who owns the kinds of watches you want to buy; who is buying them, who is selling them, who makes the market for them, who is an expert in the field whose information and advice you can trust, where to find parts, where to get work done, who is good to do business with and whom to avoid, and so much more. If you're a begignner who is serious about the hobby, you would be foolish not to attend NAWCC events.
 

Bratdaddy@mac.com

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I guess Bryan you have to be invited to that website as i tried in the past and my emails were never answered.

Nothing like that at all, just knock on the door. We'll let you in. Please email Henry Burgell hburgell@satx.rr.com

If he doesn't get to the door right away its only because he's working on one of the databases that the rest of Horology relies upon.
 

Larry Treiman

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Interesting: I just checked the Chapter149 MB and found that JonH cross posted my original question on their MB, without attribution. I'm not sure if I'm pleased to gain the wider dissemination of my simple original question or if I've been insulted by being called a "greenie bored" (whatever that is...)
Yes, it is just that supercilious attitude on the part of some of the people on the 149 MB that speaks volumes about them. Their attitude toward the NAWCC and this message board makes me wonder why they don't simply disassociate themselves from the NAWCC if they find it as distasteful as many of their posts seem to suggest. If you don't take it seriously, it CAN be good for some laughs, though hurtful attacks clearly directed at individuals are nothing to laugh at.

Larry
 

Bryan Eyring

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Yes, it is just that supercilious attitude on the part of some of the people on the 149 MB that speaks volumes about them. Their attitude toward the NAWCC and this message board makes me wonder why they don't simply disassociate themselves from the NAWCC if they find it as distasteful as many of their posts seem to suggest. If you don't take it seriously, it CAN be good for some laughs, though hurtful attacks clearly directed at individuals are nothing to laugh at.

Larry
Laughable. This is coming from a non-member who doesn't even want to pay/can't afford $70 per annum to further the association!

This is a total personal attack against the chapter. 149 has done more to try to assist and enjoin other people to join the NAWCC and retain membership for the association thru our eMart site, Auction site, and mentors programs. And need I mention our chapter perks:???: What other chapters go to the lengths we do to perpetuate the horological inspiration sir?

Respectfully,
Bryan
-> posts merged by system <-
Interesting: I just checked the Chapter149 MB and found that JonH cross posted my original question on their MB, without attribution. I'm not sure if I'm pleased to gain the wider dissemination of my simple original question or if I've been insulted by being called a "greenie bored" (whatever that is...)
This was not an insult, rather a throwback term to when the NAWCC message board was primarily of a green color and coined the "green board back in the good ole' days :D

Regards,
Bryan
-> posts merged by system <-
That's my experience also. What are the requirements for getting an invitation ?
No requirements, just an earnest interest in furthering horology and preserving timepieces from switching and destruction!
 
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HenryB

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One requirement Bryan did not mention is that for Access to the Chapter 149 Emart is you must be a current NAWCC member in good standing.
 

Larry Treiman

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Laughable. This is coming from a non-member who doesn't even want to pay/can't afford $70 per annum to further the association!

[The above quote is excerpted from Bryan's post]

Bryan, I hope you enjoyed a good laugh. I was a member of the NAWCC for over 40 years, and a Fellow. I contributed several articles to the BULLETIN, and as a member of the Answer Box Committee, starting by serving under the late Henry Fried and subsequent chairpersons, I contributed many answers to questions submitted by members, quite a few of which of which were published in the BULLETIN. So I don't think I owe anybody an apology!

Over the forty years I was a member, I gained considerable knowledge and enjoyed the felloiwship of many. I'm sorry that the fact that my collecting activities were limited at times by economic factors does not meet with your approval, but I tried to make up for it in other ways, as outlined in the previous paragraph. I think I have earned the "right" to retire from the NAWCC, and have stuck around on this MB to share bits and pieces of the knowledge that others so generously shared with me in the past. I could have afforded the dues, but watch collecting has become too expensive and unappealing for me, so I decided to spend the money on other hobbies that are more affordable for someone living on a "fixed out-go" in the current economy. My decision to resign was certainly pushed along by the type of supercilious attitudes and ad hominem attacks on the part of some people (who shall remain anonymous but who know who they are). At times I do regret my decision to drop out, but overall I am happy with it. Please resume your laughing; I certainly will!

My apologies to breyfogle for temporarily diverting this interesting thread. Keep in mind that the vast majority of the members are not at all supercilious and want to help rather than be derisive. And now that I have had a chance to read the 149 MB comments in context about your post, I have to admit that it was really rather innocuous....not at all what I expected!

Larry
 
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