Future NAWCC Museum Exhibit on Watches of the American Civil War

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Clint Geller, Mar 3, 2017.

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  1. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    #1 Clint Geller, Mar 3, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017
    Nothing is chiseled in stone yet, but it appears I will be guest curating a temporary exhibit at the NAWCC HQ Museum on Watches of the American Civil War. I am trying to design an exhibit that will be as rewarding for watch collectors as for the general public. (The exact title, like everything else, is still TBD.) We are looking at some time in 2019, and I am hoping to get approval to open the exhibit with a one-day on-site mini-seminar on Saturday, June 29, 2019, just two days before the 156'th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place just about 43 miles away. (There is usually a lot of activity around Gettysburg on battle anniversaries, and I'm hoping to attract a few of the more horologically inclined Civil War relic collectors to the museum, as well as some horologists who are also interested in the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg.) The exhibit likely will run from six to eight months (again, details TBD.) In addition to the museum staff, I am looking to the NAWCC membership and beyond for participation, support and additional ideas.

    I wish to exhibit a representative sampling of the kinds of watches that were carried by combatants during the Civil War, focusing, but not exclusively, on watches with documented Civil War provenances. There is adequate space to exhibit some non-horological items as well, to enhance the context of the watches on display. The curator at Soldiers and Sailors Hall in my home town of Pittsburgh expressed a willingness to a loan of such items, as well as one watch (their only one), to our museum.

    I have been in touch with several collectors who have appropriate watches for the display, several of which have been shown on this board in various threads. (I am also in talks with the Smithsonian about reeling in a big prize. No commitments yet, but no stiff arms either.) I am looking for several more examples, however, and if you have same and might be willing to lend one or more, please send me a PM here. In particular, the ones with provenances I have likely or tentative commitments for so far are almost entirely from the federal side. So I am especially (but by no means only!) seeking examples with Confederate provenances. (Watches carried by Confederate combatants would overwhelmingly be of foreign make, so I will post on the foreign watches forum as well). I am in touch with the curator of the American Civil War Museum, who is amenable to loaning one or two of their watches with Confederate provenances, but other than those, I am currently light on the grey side. (This is understandable, in that watches were a good deal less common in the southern armies than in the northern armies. Still, at very least I expect that Confederate field officers carried watches.) I may contact Heritage Auction Galleries and ask if they would convey a message to the purchasers of some of the Civil War watches in their past auctions, requesting their support. (They auctioned JEB Stuart's watch there a few years ago for a six-figure price, and several other terrific pieces with Civil War provenances have passed through their hands.)
     
  2. PatH

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    Exciting news! Good luck with the exhibit - sounds like you are well on your way. Please keep us updated.
     
  3. Clint Geller

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    I certainly will.
     
  4. Accutronica

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    Is the "big prize" Abraham Lincoln's pocket watch?
     
  5. ben_hutcherson

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    Clint,

    Have you been in contact with the Kentucky Historical Society?

    They have a Lincoln watch(Jules Jurgensen-Copenhagen) with a rock-solid provenance and might be a bit more ammenable to loaning it. Give me a call if you'd be interested for the exhibit-I can't promise anything but do have some contacts in the historical society.
     
  6. Clint Geller

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    I'll do that, Ben. Thank you. We may have two Jurgensen watches in the exhibit then, and perhaps even two Lincoln watches as well (though not the same exact two)!
     
  7. Tom Huber

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    sounds great Clint. All my best to you.

    Tom
     
  8. Clint Geller

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    Thank you, Tom.
     
  9. Fred Hansen

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    Great topic and look forward to seeing it.
     
  10. Clint Geller

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    Thanks, Fred.
     
  11. Maximus Man

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    Clint
    I may be able to help you out with a couple of blue watches if you are interested (including the Remington Howard).
     
  12. Clint Geller

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    That's very kind of you to offer, Vince. Please shoot me a PM with your contact information, if you wouldn't mind, and we can talk.

    Clint
     
  13. Robert McCabe

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    Hi Clint, Would you be interested in my "1863" Waltham #67581, the first Wm.Ellery in Lincoln's series? 307875.jpg 307876.jpg 307877.jpg Waltham #67581, the first Wm.Ellery in Lincoln's series?
     

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  14. Robert McCabe

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    Clint, can I ask you which Lincoln watch they have at the "Smithsonian?"
     
  15. Clint Geller

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  16. Clint Geller

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    #16 Clint Geller, Jun 17, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2017
    Potentially yes, Robert. It is kind of you to offer. Did that picture fob come with the watch, or is that something you found separately?
     
  17. Robert McCabe

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    Hi Clint, It was separate, but I have other items that were with the watch.
     
  18. Ethan Lipsig

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    #18 Ethan Lipsig, Jun 20, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2017
    Clint, I would be happy to lend my 18k Charles Frodsham pictured below. What gives it a civil war connection is its inscriptions, which state that it was given in 1865 to the Honorable C. W. Toser, Speaker of the state's first Legislative Assembly. Nevada was given statehood in 1864 to deliver an extra three electoral votes to Lincoln. The On-Line Nevada Encyclopedia explains that:

    [FONT=&amp]There were reasons for both the rush to have a Nevada state, and for the irregular procedure. First, it was at a time when the nation was fighting a desperately fought Civil War, and Nevada Territory was universally and correctly perceived to be both pro-Unionist and strongly Republican. Thus, despite other territories having considerably more population, Nevada was pushed to the head of the line for statehood. As the 1864 Presidential election approached, there were certain perceived advantages in having an additional Republican state. For one thing, a Republican congressional delegation could provide additional votes for the Passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery, which earlier had narrowly failed to garner the necessary two thirds support of both houses of Congress. More overriding, however, at least in the spring of 1864 was the real fear that there might be three major candidates running for President that year, and that no party would achieve a majority of electoral votes. Then, as required by the United States constitution, the election would go into the House of Representatives, where each state would have only one vote, and where a Republican Nevada would have voting rights equal to those of populous New York or Pennsylvania. This made the admission of an additional safe Republican state seem quite necessary.
    [/FONT]

    [FONT=&amp]A second convention to write a state constitution therefore met from July 4-27, 1864. The defeated 1863 constitution was used as the basis for the new document. The requirements of the congressional enabling act were duly incorporated at the beginning of the constitution in a section called "The Ordinance." This included the outlawing of slavery, and the statement that all undistributed public lands would be retained by the federal government and could never be taxed by the state. These provisions would be "irrevocable" without the consent of Congress and of the people of Nevada. The new constitution also included a "paramount allegiance" clause, proclaiming the supremacy of the United States government over the states and that no state had the right to secede, both very much Republican party doctrine, and voluntarily inserted into the document by its makers. The 1864 constitution also espoused democratic principles, popular in the West, with popular elections demanded for many state offices, including the state judiciary. Possible opposition from mine owners was headed off by a provision stating that only the net proceeds of mines could be taxed.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&amp]
    This state constitution was overwhelmingly approved by Nevada voters on September 7, 1864, with 10,375 votes supporting it, and a mere 1,184 against. The constitution was telegraphed to Washington, D.C. at a cost of $3,416.77, supposedly the longest and most expensive telegram ever sent up to that time. Lincoln proclaimed Nevada a state on October 31, 1864, and, eight days later, Nevada voted strongly Republican in the Presidential, congressional, and legislative elections. The state surely was "Battle Born" (one of its several state mottoes). The Civil War had been indispensable for giving statehood to one of the least populated and economically viable of all the territories.

    [/FONT]
    308145.jpg 308146.jpg 308147.jpg 308148.jpg 308149.jpg

    308145.jpg 308146.jpg 308147.jpg 308148.jpg 308149.jpg
     
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  19. Clint Geller

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    #19 Clint Geller, Jun 21, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2017
    Thank you, Ethan. That is a very kind offer. Please understand that I won't be making any final decisions for a while until I have a better idea what all the options are. But that said, it will be important to have some contemporary English watches in the display, and yours looks like a strong candidate. It is a quality piece by a famous maker in superb condition. Do we have any more information about exactly when in 1865 the presentation was made? Also, is that an English case, or is it American? From the pictures you provided, it has the general look of an American case, except that it is a swing-out, which makes me think that it could be English. If it is English, can you tell me the date mark, please? If we know none of this, can we at least establish the date on which Toser became the Nevada House Speaker? That information would at least fix the earliest possible date of the presentation.

    By the way, I just learned today that the 2019 NAWCC National Convention is scheduled for June 28-30 in St. Louis, so I will need to move the start date of the exhibit and the opening seminar, but hopefully, not by much. Stay tuned.
     
  20. Clint Geller

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    In consultation with Kim Jovinelli at HQ, in order to avoid a conflict with the 2019 NAWCC National Convention in St. Louis, the date of the Civil War Time exhibit opening and seminar is moved to July 6, 2019, the Saturday after the convention, and just three days after the anniversary of the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place nearby.
     
  21. Ethan Lipsig

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  22. Clint Geller

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    #22 Clint Geller, Jun 21, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2017
    Great. Thanks, Ethan. So since the case is engraved "1865," and he was already speaker at that time, he could have received the watch as early as January, 1865, before the war ended in April. But Tozer would have remained speaker at least until the next state election, and if his term of office had begun in December of 1864, or thereabouts, he was likely still in office until at least December, 1865 and likely beyond. So the watch could have been presented anytime in 1865. Perhaps the movement serial number carries some information. Can you access the production records for the Chas. Frodsham firm? (The dial carries a coded date. "AD Fmsz" stands for 1859, but I think that is actually more of a grade designation than an actual date of production.)
     
  23. Ethan Lipsig

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    #23 Ethan Lipsig, Jun 21, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017
    I tried to contact Charles Frodsham, but its website -- http://www.frodsham.com/-- seems defunct (it's still there, but isn't functional). Has it gone out of business?
     
  24. Tom McIntyre

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    I could not find a link that is current either. Philip Whyte who purchased the Frodsham good will and records has been an NAWCC Member since 1988. I do not know what is currently going on with the business.
     
  25. Clint Geller

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    Yep. I had tried too.
     
  26. Clint Geller

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    #26 Clint Geller, Jun 22, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
    I was in touch yesterday and today with the Virginia Historical Society, and have requested a loan of General Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson's watch, which is in their possession. They seem very amenable to the loan. I also contacted the Texas Civil War Museum and spoke to one of their collections people. The museum combines the collections of three private individuals, at least two of whom, if not all three, are from the same family. The Ritchie family supposedly has the largest Civil War artifact collection in the world, including a group of items identified to Robert E. Lee. I'm hoping there's a watch or two in there - especially of Lee's! - that they might be willing to loan.

    I will be contacting Heritage Auction galleries to see if they wish to help sponsor the exhibit and/or the seminar, as they have auctioned several important Civil War - related watches before. I'll also ask them to send a note to the buyer who purchased J.E.B. Stewart's watch a few years ago for six figures, to ask if he'll contact me about participating. Of course, I'll be asking my good friends at Jones & Horan for some support too.

    Finally, I've been in touch with our BULLETIN editor. I am writing what will either be one very long article, or two medium long articles for the BULLETIN on the subject of Collecting Civil War Watches, and I'll time them to appear shortly before the seminar.
     
  27. neighmond

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    Dear Dr. Geller,

    I have three watches I know to have been carried in the state's war, one is an Appleton Tracy serial number 12300 in a silver case, the other two are bar eubache movements cased in coin silver and 18 karat gold, respectively. The coin one is some 20 lignes and the 18k one about 15-16 lignes, both are hunting cased.

    Would any of them do you any good in your presentation?

    Cheers!

    Chaz James
     
  28. Clint Geller

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    Yes, Sir. Definitely. All of these watches would be of interest. I know you attempted to send me a PM, but my In Box is full. As soon as my PC is done updating, which is taking forever, I'll PM you and let you know.
     
  29. Clint Geller

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    The latest developments:

    As previously stated, the exhibit will open on Saturday, July 6, at the NAWCC Museum in Columbia. I will be lending a total of twelve watches out of my own collection to the exhibit, ten of which have specific Civil War provenances, and I have watches promised from eight other NAWCC members so far. In addition, the Soldiers & Sailors Hall & Museum in Pittsburgh will be lending one very interesting provenance watch and a few other non-horological items to lend atmosphere to the exhibit space; the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum in Gettysburg will be lending us up to as many as three watches (two provenance watches, and one picked off the ground after the Battle of Gettysburg); the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA has offered us one provenance watch, and the curator has invited me to tour their storerooms to pick out a few other items to enhance our exhibit space with; and the American Civil War Museum in Richmond (which merged a while back with the Museum of the Confederacy), will be lending us one very interesting Confederate provenance watch. Today, I just reached out to three other NAWCC members who have expressed willingness on this thread to lend watches.

    The Stonewall Jackson "watch" did not materialize, as it turned out to be only an unmarked empty case. Similarly, the Smithsonian was ultimately unwilling to part with its crown jewel, the Lincoln watch, for our exhibit, which is disappointing but understandable. However, we have all the makings of a fabulous exhibit lined up.

    Right now, I am composing the exhibit signage, both print and electronic. My instructions from our NAWCC Museum curator, Kim Jovinelli, is to write the print signage at a "fith grade" level, given the wide range of visitors we get to the museum. That is a hard constraint to manage, but I will do my best. However, that is where the electronic signage comes in. I have just purchased a new touch screen computer that I will be lending to the museum for the duration of the exhibit, on which the intent is to place a set of nested slide shows with narration. There, I will be able to provide the detailed information that serious horologists and Civil War history buffs and artifact collectors crave. Tom McIntyre has graciously agreed to assist with the creation of the electronics display.

    I will be looking to put together a brochure for the exhibit, and possibly a mini-seminar on opening day. Jones & Horan has already offered to be a sponsor to help defray the expenses of the brochure and seminar, and I am looking for others. Meanwhile, my book, The Appreciation and Authentication of Civil War Timepieces, is on track for publication by the NAWCC this Spring. In the NAWCC BULLETIN issue immediately preceding the opening of the exhibit, I will also have an article touting the exhibit. The article features the watch presented to Brigadier General William Jackson Palmer, Medal of Honor recipient, railroad pioneer, and the founder of Colorado Springs, by the officers of the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry (a.k.a., the "Anderson Cavalry.") This watch will be one of at least four in the exhibit that were carried by or presented to Civil War generals.
     
  30. PatH

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    Great progress, Clint. Thanks for the update. How long will the exhibit be in place?
     
  31. Clint Geller

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    Six months, Pat.
     
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  32. richiec

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    Great to hear, Clint, being a Civil War buff I look forward to going.
     
  33. Omexa

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    Hi, the site works for me in Australia. Regards Ray
     
  34. Lee Passarella

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    Hear, hear! Should be a great exhibit. Be sure to contact state and city historical societies, Clint.
     
  35. Clint Geller

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    I am excited to report that the special exhibit, "Timeless Testaments: Civil War Watches and the Men Who Carried Them" will open at the NAWCC Museum on Saturday, July 6, 2019, and will run through mid-January, 2020. The exhibit will feature 17 examples of watches carried by, or presented to soldiers of the American Civil War, together with the stories of the men, their units and their deeds. Self-guided, narrated touchscreen presentations will enhance the viewing experiences of serious horologists and Civil War history buffs alike. Every rank of soldier from private to major general will be represented in the exhibit. These unique provenance watches will be complemented by a representative group of other kinds of watches, both common and scarce, from the Civil War period. The exhibit will open with a four-speaker seminar and book signing on Saturday, July 6, 2019, just after the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place only about 40 miles from the museum. There I will be delighted to sign copies of my new NAWCC book, The Appreciation and Authentication of Civil War Timepieces, which should be available in May.

    The book cover is shown here. [​IMG]

    The seminar registration information and program details will be posted here in the coming weeks, if not sooner.
     

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  36. Lee Passarella

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    Your excitement is understandable, Clint. I look forward to being there on July 6. Congratulations.
     
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  37. Rick Hufnagel

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    I am excited to see it, and will definitely make the trip to the other side of pa to get a chance of viewing your awesome exhibit! Thank you for all the hard work! I've been wanting to come see the museum, and this is surely a must see!
     
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  38. Clint Geller

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    The NAWCC special 6-month exhibit on Civil War timepieces will kick off with a seminar at the museum on opening day, July 6. A draft program is attached. (A more produced version with registration information and sponsor ads is in the works. Persons interested in being sponsors can PM me here.)
     

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  39. Clint Geller

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    I've been reading an excellent book: Thunder at the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments That Redeemed America, by Douglas R. Egerton (Basic Books, 2016) and early on I have already come across two interesting references to pocket watches:

    - After the Battle of Ball's Bluff on October 31, 1861, which was a disaster for the Union, First Lt. Norwood Penrose (Pen) Hallowell of the 20th Massachusetts Infantry was forced to swim across the Potomac River at night to avoid capture by Confederates. As Egerton relates, Hallowell stripped off his clothes and swam the river "with his sword in one hand and his watch around his neck." Obviously, that watch was important to him.

    - During the Battle of Cedar Mountain, on August 9, 1862, another Confederate victory, Lt. Robert Gould Shaw of the 2nd MA Infantry and the future colonel of the celebrated 54th MA Infantry, narrowly avoided serious injury and possible death when his pocket watch absorbed the impact of a Confederate musket ball. Bullet-struck watches have always both fascinated and appalled me. The Civil War Museum of Philadelphia has in its collection another bullet-struck watch that belonged to Sgt. John O. Foering of the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry.
     
  40. LloydB

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    #40 LloydB, Jun 30, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
    (Below:)) Rare CW image of a Suttler's wagon converted
    to Mobile Pocket Watch Repair Station. Telegraph line
    proved helpful in ordering parts and replacement stock.

    The customer outside is awaiting 11th crystal replacement.

    Sutter's Wagon.jpg


    [Addendum:] This may be a fanciful interpretation of the image. ;-)
     
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  41. Clint Geller

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    Please tell me more, Lloyd. If you are right about that image, it is a terrific find. What is the origin of the image and what do we actually know about it?

    As reviewed in my book, there was an active trade in watch repair and selling of refurbished watches, certainly within the Union army, but very likely within both armies. (If anything, the Confederate armies would have had an even greater need to keep existing watches running, as the supply of new watches in rebel held territory would have slowed to a trickle after 1861.) The letters of Sergeant James Beitel, 153rd PA Infantry, describe his brisk business selling and repairing watches in camp. He documents the strong demand for watches and watch repair within the Army of the Potomac, including some typical prices for reworked watches: $4 for French watches, which were not considered desirable, and up to $15 for somewhat better watches, probably also Swiss or English, which were “strong runners.” Similarly, historian Alexis McCrossen wrote, “over the course of two months, the soldier [Luman A. Ballou, Co. G, 7th VT Infantry] ‘bought a watch,’ went ‘up to the new regiments to trade watches,’ ‘sold a watch chain,’ ‘traded watches,’ traded his watch for a fiddle, and bought a watch for five dollars (which he sold a few days later for twelve dollars). … Another officer [Sergeant William H. Johnson, Co. E, 7th CT Infantry] also earned extra money by speculating in watches. He wrote to his family, ‘I am glad the watches are acoming, as I think I can dispose of them to good advantage. ’ ”
     
  42. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    Clint's newly issued book The Appreciation and Authentication of Civil War Timepieces showed up on my front porch this morning. I've only had a chance to thumb through it at this juncture, but let me say that I'm quite impressed with his handiwork. Combining my addiction to watches with my passion for history, I look forward to some quality easy-chair time with this book.

    Hopefully some if not all of the watches in the book, will be showcased on our site so that I could download full-color photos of them inclusive of their different views. That would make for an interesting supplement to the hard copy volume.

    Thanks for your contribution Clint!
     
  43. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    Thank you for your kind words, viclip. Many of the watches in the book, as well as my recent Bulletin article, will be in exhibit.
     
  44. Dave Coatsworth

    Dave Coatsworth Forums Administrator
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    Spent today at the opening of the exhibit. I just have to say “Great job, Clint!” Excellent speakers and a very well designed exhibit. Had a great time.
     
  45. PatH

    PatH National Program Chair
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    #45 PatH, Jul 6, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
    Thanks so much for posting, Dave. I had been thinking about this event today. So glad to hear it went well.

    Thank you, Clint, for the countless hours you have put into this project, and your willingness to share your findings.
     
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  46. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    Thank you both very much, gentlemen.
     
  47. Dano4734

    Dano4734 Registered User

    Sounds absolutely wonderful. I am going to pack up my rv and check it out
     
  48. John Cote

    John Cote Director
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    Wish I could have managed the trip but I will have to make it up to see the exhibit in a few weeks.
     
  49. Diana Kelly

    Diana Kelly Registered User
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    I could not attend the event, but I was thinking about it, and I hope it was well attended!! I did purchase Clint's book at the NAWCC show in Springfield, and I've been enjoying it very much. Once home, my 16-year-old picked it up and spent about 15 minutes reading through parts of it, too. Thank you, Clint!
     
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  50. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    Thank you, Diana, for your organization's generous support. I'd say we had between 25 and 30 people in attendance, and we taped the whole seminar, so this should become a permanent resource for the NAWCC shortly.
     

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