E. Howard & Co. Boston Pocket Watch

Svaha

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My father had a small collection of watches. I am trying to track down information on one of those watches. The information I have been able to find so far includes:

Works are marked with E. Howard & Co. Boston 217275 with a running or leaping deer and the letter N (which I think means size 18)
The Hunter Case is marked R&F 14K Warranted 8240 and maybe a wreath. I think the R&F stands for Robert and Foster.
My research would indicate that this is a series VII watch with a 3/4 plate made sometime between 1883-1889.
Stem wound and pendant set.
It is a working watch but does not keep accurate time.

What does the running or leaping deer signify?
Is the wreath a mark for R&F?
I understand that it is often impossible to track down numbers for cases. Would anyone have info on this case with number 8240?
The case is beautiful and in wonderful condition. I don't think it is gold filled. Would this type of case/watch likely be 14K?

Would appreciate any information! Thanks

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musicguy

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Hi Svaha and welcome to the NAWCC Forum


Rob
 

Jerry Treiman

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Yes, the wreath is the trademark symbol for Robert & Foster. Yours is the earliest case/lowest number that I have recorded so far in my small database. (The next number I have is 9044). As far as I know R&F only made solid gold cases, and they are usually quite heavy.

Records that I have seen indicate your Howard movement dates from 1888-1889. The Deer grade was their most highly adjusted movement. The case was probably made around the same time or within a year of that.
 

Svaha

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Thank you so very much for all the information!!
I will try to attach a few photos. I am new here, so please forgive the blurry photos.
This is the E. Howard I was speaking about.
( I clearly do not know how to place the photos beneath my message! I will work on it...)
 

Jim M.

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Greetings Saha,
You have a very nice E. Howard and Co. watch and members here have provided helpful information, in addition to the initial research you made. Your father’s watch is of high quality and you should consider keeping it within your family. FYI -- I have found these additional reference sources particularly useful, and I keep printed versions for enjoyable historical reading and for specific information about the watches produced over the years:

1. Townsend, George E. author, ‘E. Howard & Co. Watches 1858-1903’. Heart of America Press, Kansas City, MO, 1985.
2. Nijssen, Gerrit A. author, ‘The Watches of E. Howard & Co. by Percy Livingston Small’. NAWCC Bulletin, October 1994, p. 563.
3. NAWCC online Encyclopedia Article ‘E. Howard & Company Pocket Watches’.
4. Geller, Clint B. author, ‘A Guide to Cases for E. Howard & Company Watches’. NAWCC Bulletin, April 1995, p.147.
5. Geller, Clint B. author, ‘E. Howard & Co. Watch Dials’. NAWCC Bulletin, August 1993, p.387.

Probably, the most difficult or interesting task to sort out for your watch is to identify and order the engraved personalized initials on the watchcase :). The fine engraving is Victorian era, having three initials of super imposed, interlocking style. Experience engravers have told me “no set engraving rules were utilized over time, and sometimes they sequence initials according to letter size (largest size for last name), (mid size for first name), and (smallest size for middle initial); or sometimes they place the first name initial (in the foreground), last name initial (in the middle ground), and middle initial (in the background)”. Maybe other NAWCC members are able to offer more experience on this.

In any event, the number of sequence possibilities for three initials is by formula: 3! (three factorial) or 3x2x1= 6 possibilities
My best guess is the initials are ‘AHT’.

Enjoy your fine Howard and with best regards,
Jim M
 
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Clint Geller

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Hello, and welcome to the forum. I am late to the discussion so I can add little to the excellent information you have already received, except to say that the case of your watch gives every indication of being original to your Howard movement, and that it is definitely solid gold. Not only the markings on the case indicate that it is solid 14K gold, but there is enough wear on the bow that if it were gold filled, that would be obvious. Indeed, most original Howard cases from that period were solid gold. Oh, and the Howard "N Size" refers to a dial plate that is one and thirteen sixteenths of an inch in diameter, which is just a hair larger than a Lanchashire Gauge 19 Size.
 

Clint Geller

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One other thing, your movement is a Howard Grade 7, which was the company's highest grade when your movement was made. The Grade 7 is defined by nickel plates, stemwinding and setting, a Reed's micrometer regulator, 15 jewels in gold settings, and adjustment to temperature, isochronism, and six positions. In the 1890s, Howard added three more grades to encompass movements with 17 jewels, Breguet overcoil hairsprings, split plates, and double sunk dials. Much of this has already been said, but I thought you might like to know the grade number of your movement, and how that grade was defined.
 
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Lee Passarella

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Good information from all sources here. And Clint, I skimmed your encyclopedia article on Howard watches and will delve into it more deeply at my leisure. But since the PW Database is fairly worthless about identifying Howard models and such by serial number, I wonder if anyone, besides me, would like to post pix of their Howards for identification? I have a few that I prize, but maybe I shouldn't! I'd like to know such information as you supply in this thread. If anybody would be interested, I'd be glad to start a thread on Howard identification. If not, that's OK too. Life should include some mystery.
 

Clint Geller

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Good information from all sources here. And Clint, I skimmed your encyclopedia article on Howard watches and will delve into it more deeply at my leisure. But since the PW Database is fairly worthless about identifying Howard models and such by serial number, I wonder if anyone, besides me, would like to post pix of their Howards for identification? I have a few that I prize, but maybe I shouldn't! I'd like to know such information as you supply in this thread. If anybody would be interested, I'd be glad to start a thread on Howard identification. If not, that's OK too. Life should include some mystery.
Lee, here are some additional resources on Howard watches that you may find helpful:

This link is to the old Pocket Horology (NAWCC Chapter 174) website. There are ten research articles linked there, including five on E. Howard & Co. The fourth article in the list provides serial number information about the different watch models, or "series.":

http://ph.nawcc.org/

Note that the divided plate keywinds, which are known as "Series I" and "Series II" in the Small-Hackett-Townsend nomenclature, are not defined strictly by serial number ranges. This range, from SN 101 up to SN 2,999, includes a fair number of special movements with significantly different construction than Howard's normal production watches of the period, and ought not to be considered as part of a series at all. These would include movements with helical hairsprings and an even smaller number with Breguet overcoil hairsprings (which were the first American watches to be marked "Adjusted"), as well as at least one pocket chronometer movement (likely also finished by G. P. Reed), among other oddballs. I provide an in-depth look at these movements in my 2002 NAWCC Bulletin article, which is repeated, with some minor revisions, in my 2005 book (which is available from the NAWCC lending library).

This next link is to the on-line catalog of the exhibit that was staged as part of the 2002 "Boston: Cradle of Industrial Watchmaking" NAWCC National Seminar that I chaired in Boxboro MA. It shows examples of watches from the first six "series," as well as of numerous special watches. It also shows a great selection of rare and one-of-a-kind Moorhouse dials.

E. Howard & Company

You can access an on-line compendium of the known surviving Howard factory watch movement production information put together by Dave Chaplain with information provided by Bob Rolfe, here:

E. Howard Factory Records

And finally, you can find a complete list of my own publications on Howard watches on the "Pocket Horology" page of my own website, here:

Pocket Horology

All of my Howard publications with the exception of my 2005 book, which is out of print, are available on this website at the Publications/Bulletin/Past Issues link:

https://nawcc.org/index.php/watch-a-clock-bulletin/past-issues-

By the way, it is worth noting that the so called "Series VII" N Size 3/4 plate movements are just a continuation of the "Series IV" Model 1871 movements in a different serial number range. There is no single movement feature nor combination of movement features, except serial number, that distinguishes all "Series IV" movements from all "Series VII" movements. In fact, the factory records show that the last Series IV's were finished after the first Series VII's. (All stemwind examples of either series were designed for hunting cases.)
 
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Lee Passarella

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Lee, here are some additional resources on Howard watches that you may find helpful:
Thanks a lot, Clint. I will certainly check out these resources.

In the meantime, and the PW database being fairly worthless for identifying the pictured watch, can you tell me what model it represents and when it might have been produced? It's one of my favorite watches (too bad the movement is scratched), and I especially like the case, which is just about pristine, but maybe I'm placing my affection wrongly and it ain't so fine an exemplar. Any info you could provide would be great.

IMG_0793.JPG IMG_0796.JPG IMG_0791.JPG IMG_0795.JPG
 
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Clint Geller

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Thanks a lot, Clint. I will certainly check out these resources.

In the meantime, and the PW database being fairly worthless for identifying the pictured watch, can you tell me what model it represents and when it might have been produced? It's one of my favorite watches (too bad the movement is scratched), and I especially like the case, which is just about pristine, but maybe I'm placing my affection wrongly and it ain't so fine an exemplar. Any info you could provide would be great.

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Lee, the Model 1871 N Size 3/4 plate (a.k.a., "Series IV") production began at SN 30,001, and ran until SN 49,999. So your movement is the 70th of 20,000 movements of that model (as nearly all serial numbers in that range actually were produced), which would have been made in 1871. In 1883, the same basic model, though now all stemwind, the "Series VII" or Model 1883, continued to be made in a new serial number range beginning at SN 200,001.
 
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Clint Geller

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Clint Geller

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I never did a count on nickel vs. gilt production except for the rare nickel keywinds, Keith.
That said, all Howard movements from SN 500,001 on are nickel. All Howard N Size Series VII and VIII split plates are nickel as well, as, I believe, are all the latest 3/4 plate V, VI, VII and VIII 3/4 plate movements. I'm guessing the last gilt Howard movements were finished some time in the middle 1880's, but I am not 1000% certain of that. Fully adjusted movements also grew increasingly more predominant as time went on.
 
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