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Elgin National Watch Company stock certificates

Luis Casillas

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As part of my ongoing obsession with Elgin, I've started to put together a modest collection of stock certificates for the company, and I thought I'd share these for comment.

It's not difficult at all to find green-colored Elgin common stock certificates from the 1920s on eBay, similar to this one:

xyzzytom_210964​

However, those who know a bit about Elgin watches will recognize the "Hulburd" family name on this certificate, from the C.H. Hulburd watches—Elgin's prestige 12-size presentation watch, named after Charles Henry Hulburd (1850-1924), President of Elgin from 1899 until his passing in 1924. Charles Henry was succeeded in the presidency by his son De Forest Hulburd (1886-1981). Marie H. Hulburd (*née* Hessert, 1894-1979) was De Forest's wife.

By the 1925 date of this certificate, I have a hypothesis that these shares may have been left to her by father-in-law Charles Henry's will, but I don't have any concrete evidence of this. Also, 252 shares is a much larger amount than the typical Elgin certificate you find from this period.

The following 1908 certificate, however, certainly was part of an inheritance, as revealed by the name on it: "The Merchant's Loan and Trust Company as Guardian of the Estate of Lloyd Alan Laflin."

xyzzytom_202071​

Those familiar with early Elgin full plate watches (c. 1867-1875) may recognize the name "Laflin" from Elgin's Mat. Laflin watch grade:

xyzzytom_195023​

This grade was named after Matthew Laflin (1803-1897), , who provided Elgin with an important capital influx in 1867 and was thereafter one of the major shareholders and members of the board. Matthew's son was George Hinman Laflin (1828-1904), father of Louis Ellsworth Laflin (1861-1922), who was in turn father of Lloyd Alan Laflin (1903-1990)—which makes Lloyd Alan the great-grandson of Matthew Laflin from the early Elgin name.

Lloyd Alan was 4 or 5 years old at the date of this certificate, which appears to have been left to him by his grandfather George Hinman—whose will was notable enough to receive mention in the New York Times (August 5, 1904). Lloyd Alan, according to his obituary, was later to work at Elgin as director of sales. But in addition to this he was an aviation enthusiast and seaplane pioneer. Evidence of this is that he was the inventor in US Patent
1,634,785 (July 5, 1927), for "improvements in movement converting devices and indicators whereby angular movements are converted into rectilinear movement," with airplanes cited as an example. This patent was assigned to the Elgin National Watch Company, and thus it appears to relate to Elgin's Aircraft Instrument Division, of which Alft & Briska's book on this history of Elgin gives a brief account (p. 73):

Early in 1923 the Elgin National Watch Company introduced a tachometer, an instrument that measures the revolutions per minute of a revolving shaft under different conditions. The U.S. Navy dirigible "Shenandoah" was equipped with twelve Elgin tachometers, and they were also installed on the U.S. Army planes flown around the world in 1924. When Charles S. Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris in 1927, his "Spirit of St. Louis" had an Elgin tachometer in the cockpit.

Elgin organized an Aircraft Instrument Division in 1928 and adopted "Avigo" as the trademark name and winged emblem for its products. The division occupied the entire second floor of the factory's east wing and had facilities for radium painting dials and hands that glowed in the dark. The Avigo barometric-type altimeter was responsive to changes in atmospheric pressures at various altitudes. It measures a raise or fall in altidude of twenty-five feet. The Avigo speed indicator was accurate to within two miles per hour. Like Elgin watches, both instruments were jeweled movements. Other Elgin aircraft products included a magnetic compass; a watch that could be worn over the pilot's clothing on the forearm; oil and pressure gauges; clocks; and ball bank indicators.
Next! Alft & Briska's book also reports on Elgin employee stock program of the early 1920s (p. 66):

Employees received a ten percent increase in wages effective April 1, 1920, and later that year the board of directors announced a profit sharing plan devised by President [Charles H.] Hulburd. The company's capital stock was increased from $5 million (50,000 shares of $100 par each) to $7 million (280,000 shares of $25 par each). Of the $2 million increase, $1 million was distributed as a dividend to current stockholders and $1 million (40,000 shares) was set aside for purchase by employees. To help employees pay for their stock purchases, the company paid a bonus of ten percent on their entire earnings for the year 1920. More than half the work force, 1,997, accepted the offer and purchased a total of $385,700 of the Employees Common stock.
One such employee stockholder was Matilda McLaughlin, who purchased four shares, issued May 18, 1921:



xyzzytom_202086​

These shares were subject to heavy restrictions, as evidenced by the copious small text on the certificate. Alft & Briska's book details these (pp. 66-67):

Employees Common, although eligible for dividends, could not be sold on the open market as the stock rose in value. Instead, it had to be turned in at par, plus its increase in market value, when the employee left the firm. These restrictions ended in 1923, when employees were given the opportunity to exchange Employees Common for a like amount of the regular common, the holders paying a premium of $10 per share for the exchange. Since the market price had advanced well beyond the $25 per share the employees had originall paid, there was a substantial capital gain. In 1924, for example, the stock reached a high of $72, more than twice the employee investment per share.
The back of the certificate shows that Ms. McLaughlin exchanged these shares for the common stock on August 2, 1923.

Last, and perhaps least, this is just an older Elgin stock certificate, dated March 23, 1903, three shares for Amanda Farlin:

xyzzytom_202087​

Three shares, but note that the par value is $1,000 per share, compared to $100/share in Lloyd Alan Laflin's 1908 certificate, and $25/share in Mrs. Hulburd's and Ms. MacLaughlin's; from my reading of Alft & Briska's book, this was the par value of Elgin's original shares from 1865.
 
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richiec

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Luis, thanks for the information, love the history especially the people and how they related to the actual company.
 

musicguy

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This is a very nice Elgin stock certificate and has some great graphics
I tried to capture some close up shots of father time and the Bald Eagle
clutching an Elgin Pocket watch. You can make the photos very large.

img20180405_17441255 (3).jpg

img20180405_17441255.jpg

last.jpg
 
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Nathan Moore

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I started a new thread for Elgin Stock Certificates because they didn't fit in the Hamilton thread. If anyone else who posted theirs in the other thread and would like to repost they will be consolidated in one thread with the correct title(for future people to find.....if they so choose to)
Excellent idea, Rob. I really appreciate the aesthetics of these stock certificates.

I recently acquired an Elgin stock certificate with connections to the early company history, representing ownership by Hester N. Laflin for 1,232 shares of the Elgin National Watch Company.

Elgin enthusiasts will recognize the Laflin surname. Matthew Laflin was one of the largest investors in the National Watch Company, and an early grade was named the “Mat Laflin” in honor of him. The Laflin family continued as major shareholders throughout the life of the company.

Mat Laflin’s grandson, Albert S. Laflin, married Hester N. Noll on December 30, 1896. Upon Albert’s death in 1907, $100,000 in stock holdings were given to his wife:

“I give and bequeath to my wife, Hester N. Laflin, the sum of One hundred thousand dollars $100,000 in stocks owned by me at the time of my death at their then market value, such stocks to be selected by my wife from those belonging to my estate.” [Illinois, Wills and Probate Records, Record of Wills, Book 56, 1907; Book 57, 1907]



Elgin-Stock-Certificate-Laflin-Front.jpg Elgin-Stock-Certificate-Laflin-Back.jpg HesterNLaflin.jpg
 

Brad Maisto

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F0683602-3793-40F3-A8F3-20FD412E9E89.jpeg 9D6728AD-227B-48B9-A053-BD15CCB0443C.jpeg 4288E214-163E-4D66-B448-E3A2D1B51D75.jpeg 005D6E97-B261-448C-8454-0459678C09A4.jpeg 4AB82B19-6B37-45FD-A408-EBE89F0EC524.jpeg I am not sure when I acquired this “Elgin Employe’s Stock” certificate for 4 shares to employee Arthur Tornquist on 18-May-1921 but it is signed by vice-president D. Forest Hulburd. This stock certificate was cashed in on May, 5, 1923 and has attorney R E AGEE stamped on the backside along with Arthur’s signature in the presence of Jennie E Abbott. I graduated from Abbott Junior High school in 1969, and I wonder if this Jennie was related to the founder of this school? I also am including three old B & O railroad stock certificates that are distantly related to the railroad watches used back in the day! Brad Maisto, Secretary KY Floral #44, Owensboro
 
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4thdimension

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I haven’t seen Luis post for some time now but this thread seemed like a logical place to add this stock certificate a friend found today. I noticed the stock was owned by Miss Ellen P. Laflin whom I assume was kin to Mat Laflin. I couldn’t establish a firm relationship but seems probable.-Cort

97A3CDEA-116D-46BA-9F22-FC0DB7959CEE.jpeg
 

Rick Hufnagel

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Well... It's her great grandfather.

Ellen Philbrick Laflin 12/27/1892 - 11/29/1982

Father
John Philbrick Laflin 10/15/1857 - 2/24/1903

Grandfather
Lycurgus Laflin 6/2/1832 - 2/25/1900

Great Grandfather
Matthew Laflin 12/16/1803 - 5/21/1897 (retired capitalist in death notice)

If you have Ancestry you can follow the line here
 

musicguy

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Nathan Moore

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I haven’t seen Luis post for some time now but this thread seemed like a logical place to add this stock certificate a friend found today. I noticed the stock was owned by Miss Ellen P. Laflin whom I assume was kin to Mat Laflin. I couldn’t establish a firm relationship but seems probable.-Cort

View attachment 676823
Excellent find! This one would pair nicely with my "Hester N. Laflin" certificate. She was the wife of Mat Laflin's grandson, Albert.
 

4thdimension

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Well... It's her great grandfather.

Ellen Philbrick Laflin 12/27/1892 - 11/29/1982

Father
John Philbrick Laflin 10/15/1857 - 2/24/1903

Grandfather
Lycurgus Laflin 6/2/1832 - 2/25/1900

Great Grandfather
Matthew Laflin 12/16/1803 - 5/21/1897 (retired capitalist in death notice)

If you have Ancestry you can follow the line here
Great work Rick! I got pretty far down the path of Philbricks and Lycurgus but couldn’t quite tie it all together. I’d like to try Ancestry sometime. Ellen P. Laflin was a poet with more than one book published.-Cort
 

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