Illinois Capital 21j questions

Vic Kuring

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May 12, 2005
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I am no expert on Illinois and request some info on this one.

Currently on my bench I have a 16s 21j Illinois "Capital" ser # 3980361. This pendant set movement is adjusted to only 3 positions, however, the train is gold w/steel excape wheel, screws are gilded and it sports a factory montgomery dial with plum colored hands. The jewel settings appear to be plain brass.


Is the movement Franken? It seems to me that alot of these attributes would be reserved for their RR grades.


How commom or uncommon are these? I see only 17j capitals listed in my 1999 copy of the Complete Guide to Watches.

Thanks in advance for your responses.
 

Squite

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The 2012 edition of the Complete Guide lists both 17J and 19J versions of the "Capitol", with the 19J versions listed as being adjusted to 3 positions, and having one star rarity (<2500), whilst the 17J version has no mention of rarity and is just listed as 'adjusted'. Both have nearly identical values listed, with the 19J version being listed around 20% higher only in the mint condition column. No mention at all of a 21J version though. Yet another example of the necessity in using more than one source. The Complete Guide is certainly not complete...it would probably have to be 10x its size if it were.
 

Kent

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Capitol is a Private Label Watch made from a number of Illinois grades. Checking the references listed in the Illinois Watch Company Encyclopedia article, this particular one, serial number 3980361, can be seen to be from a run of grade number 606 movements of which over 7,600 were made in the, 21-jewel, open-face version. As with most private label watches, the number that were marked "Capitol" is indeterminate. Ed Ueberall and I have a few of these "Capitol" marked examples listed in our data base, but we don't usually bother to record them. These usually have the full gilt trim, that is, the regulator and whipspring are gilded as well as the screws.

Despite the gilding, which adds more glitz than substance, these are only a middle grade watch. If you look carefully at the edges, especially those on the regulator and whipspring, you'll probably see that they are crudely finished, not at all like those on the higher grade Illinois watches such as the Bunn, A. Lincoln, Bunn Special and Sangamo Special grades.
 

CentreKeystone

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Erhardt and Meggers' Railroad Watch Guide lists a Waltham Premier 21 Jewel watch marked "Capitol Transit." Would this be a Premier Transit marked with the private label "Capitol" rather than a watch marked for "Capitol Transit" in Washington DC?
 

Larry Treiman

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Once again the old "Capitol vs. capital " conundrum is rearing its ugly head and it is getting annoying. Abouit a week ago, on November 20th there was a thread started here by James G. about an Illinois 16-size, 21-jewel watch marked "Capitol". Now this old (2012) thread about an Illinois 21-jewel watch supposedly marked "Capital".

Are there actually two different watches, some marked "Capitol" and some marked "Capital" or is one of these an erroneous reading or reporting of the actual marking:???:? When responding to the earlier query, I tried unsuccessfully to find a photo of a watch with either marking so that I could read the marking for myself. Can anyone post a photo in this thread?

The two words are often mixed up or misused. "Capitol" refers only to the building itself, either Federal or state, where legislators convene to do whatever it is that they do. "Capital" on the other hand refers to (among other things) the city where the government (federal or state) is headquartered. You can look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls or "Google" it if still unsure.

If the Waltham watch that Ehrhardt and Meggers reported was actually marked "Capitol", then I doubt that it was marked for "Capital Transit" [Company], which was for some time the name of the the public transit company serving D.C., succeeding the earlier "Capital Traction", and later renamed D.C. Transit, maybe to avoid the Capitol vs. Capital" conundrum once and for all! Actually, "Capital Transit" makes more sense than "Capitol Transit", because the company served the entire D.C. area, not just the one building!


Larry Treiman
 
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CentreKeystone

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I had to put my glasses on to confirm it but the original post was correct. The watch supposedly is marked capitOl transit. Since it was CapitAL Transit I agree it was probably a coincidence.
 

Tom McIntyre

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What do they call the subway in the basement of the capitol building? :)
 

Larry Treiman

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What do they call the subway in the basement of the capitol building? :)
I think I have seen it referred to as the "Senate Subway" but if it ever breaks down, I imagine it gets called worse things!


CentreKeystone:

I don't follow your last post!

Are you referring to the original post in this thread, or maybe to the reference in Ehrhardt and Meggers (Am. P/W Id. & P/G, B>E, called the Little Golden Book "for short" by those frustrated by the terribly long title). I don't have their railroad book. I wouldn't rely too much on one, perhaps anecdotal, report on a dial only.

Here is what the listing says in The Little Golden Book:

Capitol Transit - Waltham Premier-21 Jewels
(On 16S Montgomery SS-GE-RR-dial only

That's All Folks!

I might have further comments* if and when I see a photo of an actual watch, Illinois or Waltham, Capitol or Capital, with the word "Transit" or not.

*...or maybe NOT (have further comments)!!


(A very frustrated and disgusted) Larry
 

CentreKeystone

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Larry:
Their railroad book has the same listing in a slightly different word order. No pictures unfortunately.

For the past month a watch has been on Ebay with its dial marked "Waltham Premier Transit Special 21 Jewels."

Sorry for any confusion but it a confusing subject. I do appreciate your insight.
 

Larry Treiman

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Here's a pic of an Illinois Capitol ... 16s 17j open face model 7 grade 305 to the best of my knowledge ...

287632.jpg

Thanks, Dave, for posting the photo. The Illinois serial number-grade list and "...the best of [your] knowledge..." are in total agreement! Maybe "some day" we will find out what "CAPITOL" is supposed to refer to......or not! <];>)

Larry
 

Larry Treiman

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[EXCERPTED] For the past month a watch has been on Ebay with its dial marked "Waltham Premier Transit Special 21 Jewels."

Hi, CentreKeystone,

During the late 1930s and perhaps into the early 1940s Waltham marked their entire line of watches, from 9 jewels to 23 jewels, "Waltham Premier.

As we know, in earlier times the use of the word "Premier" was used by Waltham to designate watches that were something special, such as the 18-size, 1892-model "Appleton, Tracy & Co. Premier" grade (adjusted to 5 positions instead of 3), and of course the "Premier Maximus". The practice of applying a prestige brand to items of lesser prestige in the hope that some of the prestige would transfer to the more ordinary product was likely done out of desperation. This was during the Depression era, and desperate times called for desperate measures!.

I am familiar with those 16-size, 21-jewel watches of the late-1930s. They usually show up in the "Gray Book" as grade 1621. They were not marketed as railroad watches. Sometimes they were called "Transportation" watches. I have seen some marked Riverside, but they were nowhere near the quality of the earlier, true Riversides (caveat emptor). The grade 1621 was made in lever-setting and pendant-setting versions. Some of the pendant-set versions were "positive-set" with a detent stem as part of the movement. They did NOT have micrometer regulators, just plain old pointers! As for adjustments, some were adjusted to temperature only, and others were adjusted to 3 positions.

Back in the 1970s I had one (lever-set) that came in a nice Keystone YGF case marked Waltham, IIRC, maybe even Waltham Premier. It was a good "carry" watch, but I found the lack of the micro regulator to be a nuisance and later in the '70s I sold it at a local chapter mart, probably to help pay for something I bought that night. The YGF case, which had the lever cut-out at 11 o'clock, was probably the main attraction. I suspect that the case probably ended up on a Vanguard, some of which came in cheap, chrome railroad-style cases at that time.

As for "Capitol Transit", I believe that might have been the name of the bus line in Little Rock, Arkansas, but there may have been others as well. I did look up "Capitol Transit" on Google (it asked if perhaps I wanted "Capital Transit" instead), but I didn't have time to look through the listings. Dinner (and my stomach) were calling!

Larry
 
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