Hooper Brothers Saga

Greg Frauenhoff

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This watch has been bumping around in my collection for a couple of decades (or more) and just today I got around to putting it into a good display case (it came to me in an awful 1930-60s era base metal case). 415404, F. J. Hooper, Aspen, Colo., Adjusted, Breguet hairspring, 16 jewels (verified).

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Bila

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F. J. Hooper moved to Cripple Creek in the mid 1890s.
Just another tidbit for all who are interested in this firm, "F. J. Hooper & Co" was the name of the firm in 1889-90, then it changed to Hooper Bros., in 1891 & 1892, possibly could be longer time-frames for both of their trading names, but have not found other adverts as yet:)
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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The Hooper Bros. ad (which appears as early at 1889) shows a train wreck (sorry about the poor quality) and avers that the accident would have been prevented if a Rockford watch was in use. Recall that old Webb C. Ball claimed to have gotten his idea for RR watch inspection from a wreck in 1891 near Kipton, Ohio. So, Rockford, at least in its advertising, was connecting watch quality (or lack thereof) and train wrecks before 1891.
 
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Bila

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Have the F. J. Hooper & Co ads with the same picture for 1889 also, so interesting, I wonder why the use of 2 names:???:

They also were running ads for them selling Waltham Appleton Tracy & Co Grades as well as Rockfords for the lowest price anywhere.
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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Bila,

Find a Grave has some biographical info on F. J. Hooper.

As for the Co., my guess is that it started as Hooper Bros. in Aspen, the brothers parted (c. 1892) and F. J. Hooper carried on, then F. J. moved to Cripple Creek.

Greg
 

Bila

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Here is a more short detailed version of some of the Firm's history;

The Hooper Bros., appear to have started in late1885 in Aspen after purchasing J. H. Bixby's Jewelry Store, I have gone through my research pages and it looks like there were three brothers that I know of. These being F. J. Hooper (Frank), Charles Hooper (joins the firm from Arkansas in 1886, and N. R. Hooper (Nick). Nick brought into the business in late 1890 after leaving California, when it was still on Cooper's Avenue and Mill Street, Aspen. In 1888 they moved to 408 Hyman Avenue, at the end of 1888 they took on another associate, a Mr. Knickerbocker, supposedly a Manufacturing Jeweler & Optician.

In 1889 the business partnership (Hooper Bros.) was supposedly dissolved (notice from the Aspen Daily Chronicle mid 1889) and the firm now was going to trade under the name F. J. Hooper & Co with any outstanding payments owing to the old Hooper. Bros,. firm to be paid to F. J. Hooper & Co and a Walter D. Jacoway as "Authorizing Agents". Periodicals after this date also show adverts for new stock being sold by F. J. Hooper & Co., the successors to Hooper Bros.

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In 1890 with periodicals of the day showing rumours were abound, of Frank selling his interest and that Nick had purchased a full-half share and was going to run the "Watch Repairing Mechanical Department" of the business as well as aspects of Jewelry manufacture, although Frank was still to continue as a senior member of the new firm "F. J. Hooper & Co.

When 1892 comes around periodicals of the day show them dissolving the Hooper Bros., firm, (Aspen Daily Times mid to late 1892) with Nick too head back to California to embark on a similar venture (Jewelry & Watches) that they had in Aspen. Was the later report talking about the brothers business partnership and not the firms?

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They also were advertising toward Railroad men during this time with movements costing between $15 and $20 dollars, these consisted of the following brands, "Waltham, Rockford and Illinois" and for $26 you could buy yourself a B. W. Raymond (Elgin). The earliest use of the Train Wreck ad talking about "Rockford's" that I have seen from the firm was in late 1889, (there could have been earlier ones, but I have not seen them). It appears that Frank J. Hooper pops up in Cripple Creek around 1894-95 and as Greg's advert plate-cut shows still a Jeweler there in 1898.
 
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Greg Frauenhoff

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FWIW, there are private label Hampdens and Hamiltons known for F. J. Hooper, Cripple Creek.

This link has a couple of pictures of F. J. Hooper:

 

Greg Frauenhoff

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This watch belonged to my wife's great-grandfather and was given to me by her parents as a wedding gift. It is in a 14K Keller & Untermeyer open-face box-hinge case. It's not especially heavy (and I don't have it handy to weigh...it's at the bank) but it belonged to D. A. Mills, who was a mine owner and speculator in Colorado. The movement is a private label Rockford for Hooper Bros. of Aspen, Colorado, and dates to 1888/89. D. A. was living in Aspen at the time but he later went to Red Cliff, Colo..

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A comment on dials. The F. J. Hooper #414505 and the Hooper Bros. #307116 both have dials signed "Rockford" (on #307116 it is a multi-color fancy dial). I have seen a Rockford with multi-color fancy dial signed "F. J. Hooper, Aspen", but don't remember whether the mvt was marked with his name or not.

Anyone have other Hooper Rockfords to share?
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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Apparently the Hooper Bros. were a significant seller of watches and should have their own thread.
Works for me. Maybe Rob can pull the Hooper posts and create such. That way we can expand from Rockford and on to other Hooper private labels such as Hamilton and Hampden.
 
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Bila

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Apparently the Hooper Bros. were a significant seller of watches and should have their own thread.
Works for me. Maybe Rob can pull the Hooper posts and create such. That way we can expand from Rockford and on to other Hooper private labels such as Hamilton and Hampden.
I have no problem if any of the Moderating team would like to break off the Hooper Bros. & F. J. Hooper Cripple Creek posts into a separate thread, as both of you have alluded to probably deserves to have its own:)
 

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Apparently the Hooper Bros. were a significant seller of watches and should have their own thread.
This is their own thread. :)


Rob
 

Bila

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I can not believe I missed it, there was another Brother who actual started the firm of Hooper Bros., he was J. D. Hooper. It looks like the Firm of F. J. Hooper & Co started to wind up proceedings in Aspen Colorado in late 1893 as the ad (December 1893, Aspen Daily Times) below shows them trying to move the last stock on "cash sales" until January 1st 1894.

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So it appears that they arrived in early January 1894 in Cripple Creek, a Gold-Town/Camp at that time. The following ad shows F. J. Hooper taking a visit from Cripple Creek to Aspen (Aspen Daily Times, April 1894), so he was definitely a resident by then.

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Later in that year disaster strikes the Establishment, with a fire wiping-out his Store, this was reported in the Aspen Daily Times in the December of 1894 (see notice below). Less than 2 weeks after the fire F. J. Hooper is taken down with pneumonia and is taken to Denver for hospitalisation and treatment, He soon returns to Cripple Creek after a short stay and he gets back to business in Cripple Creek.

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Within a month of the start of 1895 he issues a notice for all Clients that have jobs (watches to be repaired) to call and pick them up. Another month following and a notice appears in the Aspen Daily Times of Friday 1st February 1895 mentioning him closing the business one week from this Saturday. A week after that another notice appears (ad below Aspen Daily Times dated 6th February 1895) , this states that all goods not collect must be now be collect from Edgar Stallard's office on Galena Street, Cripple Creek.

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Now when I was looking at these sequence of events I thought that would be the last piece of the puzzle regarding his business operations, but alas I found another entry some 4 months later in June. At this time the business is still surviving in some operational capacity and he has issued another notice. This time stating that he and his Manager could no longer cope with the volume of work.

He states that he intends to send work to a Jeweler in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He then goes on to recommend that Jeweler's abilities to his Clients and then says, "all work entrusted to their care will receive their prompt attention, will be delivered promptly and in perfect order".

Was the thoughts of the closing of the store in early 1895 related to his earlier health scare a few months before? Then after trying to struggle on for another 4 months before succumbing to the work-load also related to the same health scare? I do not think will ever be sure, but it looks a little like that could have been the case in my opinion. As there seems to be a long time between the last report that I have been able to find and the next one which appears in an edition of the "The Morning Times" in the later months of 1897 (but there could be others somewhere), this is below. So it appears that he has regained a zest for life and the Jewelry trade again. Also this is the first time I have seen Elgin referred to in any of their ads.

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In the 2nd quarter of 1898 one of the founders J. D. Hooper aged 48 years of the Firm "Hooper Bros' and also brother of F. J. Hooper passes away in Colorado Springs after stomach surgery on a tumor. At the end of 1898 he is still advertising as Greg's ad shows clearly and trading from 244 Bennet Avenue, Cripple Creek. Further periodicals of the day show him still in Cripple Creek in 1901, sometime after this he retires to Denver with his Family.

While perusing all the material I have on the firm, its business partners and adverts from periodicals of the day I have only seen references to Waltham, Illinois & Rockford's watches mentioned and later as the last ad shows Elgin appears. This by no means says that is the only brands they carried. As in some of the earlier notices during the Hooper Bros., and F. J. Hooper & Co eras they mention that they were at first carrying 150 types of watches in stock and then a year later stocked 500 different types. So as you see there must be many others out in the collecting world from this Jeweler & Watchmaker as well as other brands other then those already spoke about. I look forward to seeing what else is out there as Greg has mentioned:)
 
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Greg Frauenhoff

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Here is a terrible pic of an 18s 21 jewel Hampden signed F. J. Hooper Special, Cripple Creek, Colo.:

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I recall that it is the same watch (mvt #1436354) shown on pg. 145 of Ehrhardt's American Pocket Watches Vol. 1.
 

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