Info on a Burlington Special

S

Stephen Woods

I was wondering if anyone could give me some information to help date a pocket watch which has been in my family for some time. It was sent back to Ireland as a gift to my grandfather by a great uncle of mine sometime after he had emmigrated to the U.S.

It is a 'Burlington Special' with 19 jewels. It has two serial numbers: one on the inside of the dial case - 3048601 and another on the workings - 2711380

The case is quite elaborate with a dragon? or phoenix type bird engraved on the rear casing and has great grandfathers initials on the front.

Can anyone help me date this watch and also tell me if the phoenix style engraving represents anything particular or was it just a standard design.

many thanks.
 
S

Stephen Woods

I have found some other information which might help identify and date it. On the workings I can read: Adjusted to temperature and positions & double roller. I believe its a hunting case with a Montgomery dial.

thanks.
 

StanJS

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Assuming it is a Burlington Special made by Illinois, the 2711380 S/N would date it to 1915 or so. If you can post a picture, we'll nail it down for you.

Cheers,
Stan
 

Jerry Matthews

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Hello Stephen - As Stan said, most Burlington Specials were made by Illinois Watch Co, Springfield Illinois, and the serial number on the movement would date it to 1914-1915.

The case could be something special that your great uncle had engraved for your great-grandfather. In those days, watch movements (the works) were sold separately from the case. The customer would go to the local jeweller, choose a movement, and then select a case to fit and the jeweller would "marry" them together. It was then possible to have the case hand-engraved to order. Since great grandfather's initials are on the front, the rear case could also have been engraved to order.

Since there is a front cover, it is a hunter case.

A close-up photo is always helpful.

Regards, Jerry
 

rrwatch

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Burlington (along with the Santa Fe Watch Co.) were the exception to the rule that movements and cases were sold as individual units and "married" together by the selling jeweler before the mid 1920s.
Burlington Watch Co. was a mail order marketing organization that offered a wide vareity of watch cases with many, many styles of decoration and design. They offered, directly to the buying public, a large illustrated catalog, showing all of their different movements, all (except for a few Swiss made ones sold in Canada) made by Illinois. The consumer selected the size, movement quality, case style, and the case decoration he wanted from the catalog. He could even get a facsimilie of his signature engraved across the case back, filled in with the enamel color of his choice. All of these cases were engraved with the Burlington name on the inside of the case back, and all were of gold filled composition. Burlington did not sell either the movements or the cases separatly.
The movement in your watch is an Illinois, Model 8, Grade 106, made about 1915. This was a grade reserved exclusively for Burlington production, all 12,700 made were private labeled for them.
 

Kent

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Hi Stephen:

Welcome to the NAWCC Pocket Watch Message Board!

To add to the good information the others have posted, the Burlington Watch Co., of Chicago, IL, was a mail-order sales operation. Almost all of the watches were made by the Illinois Watch Co. and privately-labeled for Burlington. A very small few were made by Henry Moser of Switzerland.

Since the vast majority of Burlington watches were made by the Illinois Watch Co., information about them is contained in "American Pocket Watches Vol. 2, Illinois Watch Co., Encyclopedia and Price Guide," William Meggers, Jr. & Roy Ehrhardt, Heart of America Press, Kansas City, MO, 1985. In seeking information about a watch, it is the serial number on the movement (the "works") that is important.

In addition to printed references, and Russell W Snyder's Data Base CD on Illinois there are Oldwatch.com's Illinois Production Date Chart and the PocketWatchSite's Illinois Date Table which are an online means for determining the very approximate production date of Illinois pocket watches (use the serial number on the movement, not the case). In general, we think of serial number lists (not just for Illinois, but for other watch manufacturers as well) to only be accurate within a year or two at best, and recognize that there are numerous exceptions wherein which the dates may be off as much as 3 years or more.

Burlington seems to have started up around 1908-1910 and lasted until about 1923-1924. For about the first ten years, Burlington sold mostly 19-jewel watches, a lot of which were marketed as the "Burlington Special." The 1912 ad at the first link shows the classic open-face "Burlington Special" while the hunting-case model is shown in the second link:
elginwatches.org/scans/non_elgin_ads/1912/m_05_burlington_special.html

elginwatches.org/scans/non_elgin_ads/1911/m_12_burlington_special_hc.html

To view, go to the Elgin Watch Collectors Site Home Page at elginwatches.org, then copy and paste the address in your browser's address bar and click on 'Go'.

Its difficult to know whether to call these watches Burlington Special's or just plain Burlington's. Burlington marketed their 19-jewel watch as the Burlington Special watch, but the only place that the "Burlington Special" marking appeared was on the dial. Thus the question arises, is a "Burlington Special" fitted with a different dial still a "Burlington Special"?

There were several models of 16-size "Burlington Special" made by the Illinois Watch Co.:
19-Jewel Model 5
19-Jewel Model 9 (Please note that the movement in the Model 9's picture is missing its regulator whipspring with its associated mounting and adjusting screws.)

Good luck,
 

Jerry Matthews

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Ed, thanks for putting me right on that one. I knew Burlington was a mail-order outfit, so common sense should have told me that the movements and cases were not sold separately. I think this pretty much answers Stephen's question. The watch was chosen by his great uncle, and the case style and engraving selected especially for his great grandfather back in Ireland.

Jerry
 
S

Stephen Woods

thanks for all the information. In or Around 1915 sounds about right for when it was sent to Ireland. I'll try and get a few pictures posted.
 

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