Independent Watch Fredonia New York

GD1

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I have an 18 size KWKS pocket watch marked Independent Watch Co. Fredonia, New York. Did Independent have Swiss companies make any of their watches. I was told that the watch in question is a Swiss fake. My definition of a fake is a watch intnded to deceive the buyer. Would a watch that was made for a company with their name put on it be considered a fake? Thanks for any input.
 

GD1

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I have an 18 size KWKS pocket watch marked Independent Watch Co. Fredonia, New York. Did Independent have Swiss companies make any of their watches. I was told that the watch in question is a Swiss fake. My definition of a fake is a watch intnded to deceive the buyer. Would a watch that was made for a company with their name put on it be considered a fake? Thanks for any input.
 

Bill B

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The Independent Watch Co. Fredonia did not make their own watches. Companies like Hampden, Illinois, U S Watch company and Cornell Watch Co made them and put the Fredonia name on movements and dials. These were sold by mail order between 1880 and 1885 in 1885 it became the Peoria Watch company. So your watch is not a Swiss fake as it was not Swiss made but made in USA.
 

Bill B

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I got info from an old 9th edition Cooksey price guide. Now that I have looked at Cornell info they became the California Watch company and went out of business in 1876. The Howard brothers purchased the California Watch company in 1878 and marked their watches Independent Watch Co. So yes some of the Cornell movements were marked Independent Watch Co or Howard Brothers.
 

GD1

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So, to your knowledge, have you ever seen a Swiss fake with the Independent Watch Comany Fredonia New York marking?
 

Kent

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How about posting pictures of it?
 

Jeff Hess

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Three different compnaies.

Independant used other people movements and sold the watches mail order. The Howard Brothers were Patenet medicine salesmen and knew how to make a buck. They even talked Samuel Clemens into investing and made a watch called the "Mark Twain"!

Fredonia Watch company made thier own movements from machinery purshcaed elsewehere. (I have heard OTAY and/or Cornell).

The Howard Brothers moved to Peoria when the company was sold to the Greenhut/Bradley group and assumedly kept an interst. Peoria famed fuller avenue was renamed (and remains named today) Fredonia Avenue in their honor. They used movements that had been made in Fredonia and finsished them up in Peoria. They then became the NONmagnetic Watch Company and when they went out of business about 1891, Lydia Bradley bought them out and also bought Parson Horological School out of Indiana and started Bradley University on the Fredonia avenue site.

IT was briefly called PArson Scholor horolgy at Peoria for a scant few months before becoming Bradley. Around 1960 the horology school closed and became Gem City College in Quincy Ilinois but Bradley University remained.

Now the above is all from memory. My notes are tucked away and I am sure Doc Ron or someone can poke a few holes in the above but the gist of what I have written is correct. I have doing research on these companies for years.

Jeff Hess (spent many ours in Peoria Public Libray, Bradly Library and Fredonia New Yokr Library....)
 

ron schneider

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more confusion and incorrect information cornell 1870 otay 1889 fredonia 1883 yeah fredonia used otay machinery

where do you guys come up with this stuff
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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FWIW and without bothering to double check anything by looking it up, the early Howard Bros. products (i. e. Independent Watch Co. mvts) were based on left over Marion material. Some had modified butterfly cutouts, and some had no cutouts. The Mark Twain mvts were made from such old Marion material (as I recall...this should be covered in the Muir-Kraus book and also an old Bulletin article...so if your interested you may have to do a little work of your own to find out for sure). Concurrently or perhaps subsequently, they started selling mvts made for them by Companies such as Illinois and Hampden (these would be private labels mvts). Concurrently or perhaps subsequently, they began making their own mvts under the name of Fredonia Watch Co. using old Marion machinery (Muir wrote an article about the adventures of the Marion machinery in a very long ago Bulletin article). Eventually they found new investors (dupes?) for their concern in Peoria and moved the works there and thus began the Peoria Watch Co.

The Cornell Co. was an outgrowth of Newark. Newark's stuff was moved first to Chicago where it became Cornell. Then Cornell moved to California. Then the remains came back east again when Troeller finished up a small number of mvts as Western Watch Co. I'm not aware of a connection between Cornell and Fredonia/Independent.

Anyway, hope this helps and thank you to Jeff and Bill for taking the time and effort to reply.
 

Jeff Hess

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Ron,

My post was accurate. I said that this was from memory and I also said that I "heard" of a connection between OTay and Cornell.

This is a conversation Ron. A friendly conversation. I also correctly predicted in my post that you would try to poke holes in things. Try to poke holes in the rest of my post.

Have a good day and try smiling for a change..
:)
Jeff
 

ron schneider

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just trying to be accurate and not spread a bunch on nonsense and wrong information you might research some of this before commenting
 

Jeff Hess

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As always Ron, thanks for your terrfic and most positive conribution.


Jeff
 

GD1

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I compared the movement of this watch to Illinois, Hampden, etc. and it looks nothing like them. It does look really close to a Cornell movement. Serial number on the watch is 18443. Will try to post pics.
 

Jeff Hess

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a rarity..looks like a Swiss fake...the first SWiss fake Independat I have ever seen.

Any other opinions?

JEff
 

Michael Harrold

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Have not heard of fake Indpenedents either. I am stuck on vacation, with no reference material. Engraving looks a bit funky (maybe Swiss), and cannot tell about the gilding, but plates look very similar to Newark and later Peoria, so maybe falls in line.

Mike
 

ron schneider

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no way does it resemble either a newark or a peoria which was not made in kw some of you people need to look more closely at pictures or compare movements
 

Jeff Hess

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Ron,

It is a Swiss fake for sure.

I am glad you are voicing your opinion as well.

But it does kind of reseble a Peoria or Newark in plate design.

The font is VERY Swiss and the gilding is just awful.

Feel free to blast away, sir.

Jeff
 

Michael Harrold

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I do not question that the watch is Swiss. It was merely the plate shapes and general screw locations I had commented on, as the color I am looking at is not reliable. The inverted balance and sprung-under balance spring are very Swiss looking. The surprising American touch are the banking screws, which are rarely faked.

Mike
 

GD1

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Is there any possibility that Independent actually had any Swiss companies make watches for them?
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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"Is there any possibility that Independent actually had any Swiss companies make watches for them?"

I can't see why not. The Howard Bros. didn't seem to be too picky about the quality of some of the stuff that they sold.
 

Jeff Hess

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Heh. yes The Howard Bros. were quick to capitalize on just about every nuance (if cheap) in the watch biz that they could.

They were, again, first known for their hokey "patent medicine" business and collectors around Fredonia New york prize the old Howard Bros. PAtnet medicine bottles almost as much as they do the watches!

I turned over all of my research to Gene Fuller when he was doing his book (his book, revered by many and maligned by some as well is a good one to have.

In a sense, though, all watch companies of that day were a bit self aggrandizing with a tendancy to "puff" a little too much right?

Anyway, nice watch sir. A fake, but interesting nonetheless. While I have learned to "never say never" when research is involved, I would venture to guess that this is NOT a Howard Brother creation at all, just a Swiss fake. A cool one but a Swiss fake nonetheless.

Jeff Hess
 
B

Bob Weinstein

Absolutely a Swiss movement and fake signature. Nothing in the literature even suggests that this type of movement was imported by the Howard Bros.
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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FWIW, the Muir-Kraus book on Marion states that the Howard Bros. "originally purchased Swiss movements, upon which they engraved their own names, and sold them as if they were the manufacturers."
 
B

Bob Weinstein

Jeff,
Again, where is the proof, anyone can say anything just like on these message boards.

Show some hard copy.
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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Bob writes:

Nothing in the literature even suggests that this type of movement was imported by the Howard Bros.
So I answer his assertion by posting something from the "literature" and Bob switches to demanding "proof".

Muir-Kraus clearly are paraphrasing Crossman. Crossman writes that the Swiss mvts they (Howard Bros.) imported were marked "Howard Bros." Although the watch in this thread isn't so marked, it seems entirely reasonable that, given the Howard Bros. also sold mvts under the Independent Watch Co. name, some of the Swiss mvts that Crossman says they imported might also have been marked "Independent Watch Co., Fredonia, NY".

No, this isn't absolute "proof". Oh well.
 
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Greg Frauenhoff

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GD1,

Before I forget, no matter what your watch is it is much more interesting than many of the millions of 7, 11, 15 and 17 jewel Elgins and Walthams out there. In my opinion anyway.
 

GD1

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Thanks to everyone for their input. I really did'nt know if this was a Swiss fake or a Howard imported movement or whatever, just wanted to learn more about what I had. All of the comments have been interesting.
 
B

Bob Weinstein

"Before I forget, no matter what your watch is it is much more interesting than many of the millions of 7, 11, 15 and 17 jewel Elgins and Walthams out there."

But only if one collects cheap Swiss watches or fakes. American watches are infinitely more desirable and of vastly superior quality to Swiss fakes.
 

Jeff Hess

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Is there any possibility that Independent actually had any Swiss companies make watches for them?
Greg, Bob, et al,

I just ferreted out someof my research that is still around and found this interesting passage fron the Fredonia Censor, March 2, 1881 newspaper..

The Howard Bros "have already considerable machinery and skilled workmen from Switzerland and have for some time been making watches at their factory on main street"

And a later passage, undated, that sheds some light on a model or two you may have not heard of..(remember, these guys were hustlers and might have fibbed...ya never know)

'The following styles of watches are already out or nearly completed at the factory. Fine gilded key winder, es gate, mark twain and E. D. Howard, Fine Nickel Keywinders, O R. Burchard, D. R. Barker and T. S. Hubbard. The above grades will also be made in Stem winders. The company also have out an elegant ladies watch the "Little Jewel" which will be both key and stem wind"

Jeff Hess

(Maybe Ron can share some of his research as well.....) :)
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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Jeff,

Cool item! Keep 'em coming.

Period newspapers are terrific sources of info; although you sometimes have to cut through a bit of hometown boosterism or hype to get at the truth.

When researching the Aurora Watch Co. I spent countless hours going over microfilm of various local papers and probably located several hundred news items (great and small) relating to this concern.
 

Tom Huber

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About 15 years ago, I spent a Sunday afternoon at the Fredonia Historical society and museum. I ask a lady there about the Fredonia/Independent Watch Company. She brought me out 5 manila folders stuffed with all kinds of info. I know I learned a lot that day about the Howard Bros and their watches. Sadly, I can't remember most of the minutia. The one thing that was loud and clear--As Jeff said. The Howard Bros were snake oil salesman. They were successful in selling Peoria, Ill a real bill of goods convincing them to buy the factory, when they knew the design was not good and ultimately it would go bellyup

Anyone interested should make a trip to Fredonia and go through the records there. It makes for interesting reading.

Tom
 

Jeff Hess

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Tom, I have spent many hours at that Library and they are indeed very helpful!

Jeff Hess

BTW, I have been on the quest of Peoria serial number one for many many years. It has been in the hands of a dealer/collector and it was owned orignally by JB Greenhut, the President of Peoria.

I am such a Peoria watch nut that I picked as one of my first apartments an apartment in the former mansion of Mr. Greenhuts on thw corner of High and Moss in Peoria and a few blocks from Fredonia Street ((once called Fuller street but renamed when Greenhut bought Peoria Watch Co).

I have been interviewed in the Peoria Paper trying to get investors to buy the NUMBER ONE Peoria and I have heard just this week that the watch will indeed be going to a Peoria Museum! I hope this is true. Can anyone shed any light on this?

Jeff Hess, Peoria/Fredonia
Geek
 

Rick Hufnagel

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This is a neat thread. Super advertisement, Rodney.


I have to say that even though the original watch in this thread is Swiss, the font and style of engraving is dead on with the American movements signed the same way.

I wouldn't have any problem calling it real, and would probably take a shot at one if I had the chance. The coolness factor is high.

One problem I can nit-pick is the little dot above the first "e". Almost like a back up plan if someone got busted selling a fraud, they can claim it's "indipendent" instead of "independent". It is an old, lower quality picture, however, so it could be an illusion.

Have any other of these imitation American movements been spotted with the independent signature since 2006??

Sure it could be a Swiss fake, but there are allot of nicer, higher quality, more expensive, and better known things to clone.
Swiss.. absolutely, I have that same movement private labeled for a Pittsburgh jeweler.

Swiss fake:???: I don't think so. Why fake an already low grade mail order business. If you were so inclined as to sell faux watches, slap B.S. Bartlest on it and sell it faster.

Why couldn't Howards purchase these movements? They would have been cheap and plentiful. Bob says it's not in the literature. I don't agree with his feelings, however. (Sorry Bob, I know your probably long gone from the forums board)

I agree proof would be great, but absence of proof is not proof.

One of the more interesting and movements I've seen in a little while, that's for sure. I hope others will share their opinions.
 

watchbob

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I'd also say it's a swiss made - who engraved buy swiss - Howard Bros ?? I had a lot of Howard Bros - Fredonia watches & have kept quite a few .
I've seen Everything from their Superior grade - 18k hunter case fredonia - modified Marion movements - lots of Hampden's - Illinois
I haven't seen this style before either. But an interesting item!
 

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