Knapp watch cases

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Jerry Treiman, Oct 14, 2009.

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  1. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Does anyone have any information on cases marked "Knapp"? I have seen these mostly on high-grade Illinois thin-model dress watches from the late 'teens or early '20s. I have looked in all of my sources and can find nothing about a casemaker using the Knapp name. The closest possibility I have found yet is a Charles F. Knapp who was a manufacturing jeweler on Maiden Lane around 1900, but that was almost 20 years earlier. Here is an image of the case mark seen in Knapp cases. Any info on Knapp cases will be appreciated for my case research.
     

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  2. Tom McIntyre

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    W. G. Knapp was in partnership with Fred McIntyre during this period. They associated following the collapse of the McIntyre Watch Co. and stayed partners until 1919. Charles DeLong was chief designer at Illinois during the same period and was instrumental in the design of the thin watches.

    There is still a lot of information to be dug out about this. I would love to see some pictures of the Knapp cased watches.

    Family oral history says that Knapp and McIntyre never got along well and Knapp eventually bought out McIntyre's interest with McIntyre using the money to found Lincoln Products, his first non-watch venture.
     
  3. Ethan Lipsig

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    #3 Ethan Lipsig, Oct 15, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2009
    I have several Knapp-cased watches. The first watch shown below is an Illinois Extra Thin Grade 439. The case and movement are great. The dial is in poor condition. If anyone has an appropriate dial in great condition for sale, please let me know.

    The second watch is an E. Koehn.
     

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  4. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    #4 Jerry Treiman, Jan 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
    I still have not learned much about the maker of these Knapp cases. In this other thread - http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?66861-Enameled-American-Watch-Cases&highlight=knapp - it came out that the maker may have been W.G. Knapp who, Tom tells us had earlier been associated with Fred McIntyre.

    Another Knapp - G.J. Knapp - is listed in the 1927 "Jewelers' Index" as an importer and wholesaler of watches, but that description does not sound too promising for the Knapp I am seeking.

    [edited to add that I just found reference to a W.G.Knapp Watch Case Co." in the Directory of Directors for New York (1921), so I think this is the source of many of these fine cases used by Illinois Watch Co.]

    I would love to hear from anyone who may have ads or other information relating to Knapp as a case maker.
     
  5. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    Jerry, I don't have any information about Knapp, but I am going to post photos of other Knapp-cased watches I have besides the two shown above. First, here is an Illinois 439 in an unsigned case I think is by Knapp, #3,869.
     

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  6. Ethan Lipsig

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    Here is an Illinois 438 in an unsigned case, #4,199, again I believe by Knapp.
     

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  7. Ethan Lipsig

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    Here is an Illinois 435 in an unsigned case I believe to be by Knapp, #9,686.
     

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  8. Ethan Lipsig

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    Here is an Illinois 438 in a signed Knapp case, #11,918.
     

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  9. Ethan Lipsig

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    Illinois 409 recased in Knapp case #52,169 and Illini 23j recased in Knapp #52,991 taken from an Autocrat.

    - -
     

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  10. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Ethan - you have some lovely examples.

    Knapp really made some classy, high-quality cases. Unfortunately, too many collectors do not value the cases as much as the movements and many of these have been melted down. As a result we are losing a big piece of the history of American watches. I think these Knapp-cased watches (as well as those cased by Depollier, Cressarrow, Matalene, Wadsworth, to name a few) are definitely worth a premium. Knapp seems to have provided special size cases primarily to Illinois in the early to mid '20s. Here are a couple more unsigned cases that I believe came from Knapp --

    3482458f.jpg 439f2.jpg

    (These contain Illinois Extra-thin first-model movements).
     
  11. richiec

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    #11 richiec, Jan 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
    I did find mention in a 1919 issue of Iron Industry and Trade publication Volume 65 about the incorporating of the W G Knapp Watch Case Co by F H Etches, G W Geiling 52 Broadway and T Hartigen.
     
  12. Steven661

    Steven661 Registered User

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    I am brand new to watch collecting. I say collecting because I bought my first pocket watch two days ago and started trying to look into it's history and came up with nothing when searching the model number on the case. That was until I came across this thread. From my novice understanding not many gold cases survived because the movements were more valuable than say the gold to the collector. So I guess I am asking how to determine if it is the first model movement or I might be using the wrong terminology, but Basically I paid almost nothing for the piece and I'm trying to figure out if someone at some point would say put a later model movement in it. Either way it feels like I found a gem that professionals hardly ever hit. I should probably take this as a win fall before I spend money on a lot of bad buys. The same guy has three individual movements without cases for sale as well.








    View attachment 353250 View attachment 353251
     
  13. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    You got it exactly backwards when you said "not many gold cases survived because the movements were more valuable than . . . the gold." Gold cases were scrapped because the gold was more valuable than the watch to the owner, who likely wasn't a collector and likely viewed the watch as obsolete, old-fashioned, broken, or battered, and did not value it as an heirloom.

    I really don't understand the rest of your post. You have purchased what seems like a very nice, enameled Knapp case. I am guessing it originally held an Illinois Grade 435, 437, 438, or 439 movement, and it perhaps still does. Please post photos of the movement and the back of the case. If the watch has one of these movements or another likely original high grade movement and the movement still works, you may have a very worthwhile example, but it needs restoration. The crystal looks like it needs to be replaced. The hands look corroded. The dial is poor (portions of the applied numbers are missing, etc.). Some might disagree with me, but the case looks like it would benefit from a very light polishing.




     
  14. Steven661

    Steven661 Registered User

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    Picture is hard to see. Marked Knapp 14k 11410
     
  15. Steven661

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  16. Ethan Lipsig

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    I said "I am guessing [that your case] originally held an Illinois Grade 435, 437, 438, or 439 movement, and it perhaps still does." It's got an Illinois Grade 437 movement, very likely original to the case. The winding gears are badly corroded.

    Grade 437 is a high grade movement and relatively scarce (about 2000 were made). I doubt that you would ever recover the cost of restoring the watch to excellent condition, but it ought to be restored.
     
  17. Steven661

    Steven661 Registered User

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    From my research I would say this is a Illinois Grade 437 with a production date of 1920 based on it being 19 jewels adjusted and with a serial number 0f 3761524. Any feedback would be appreciated.
     
  18. Steven661

    Steven661 Registered User

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    Restoration

    My computer is lagging so I didn't see your post. Thank you for your help you are obviously very good at what you do. After I read your response I looked closely at it and you were spot on with your assessment on it's condition. Except for the the crystal I believe. Once I got it apart it turns out to be a plastic replacement but the rest was spot on. You mentioned full restoration and the high cost but I do appreciate history. I obviously know nothing about the restoration process. Basically if nothing is broken just gummed up are we talking a good cleaning at a relative low cost until you have to start replacing components with the cost skyrocketing? Your advise is greatly appreciated.
     
  19. Steven661

    Steven661 Registered User

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    Re: Restoration

    I just thought about it and it is probably pricey regardless because of the man hours involved in taking it apart to clean it.
     
  20. Tom McIntyre

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  21. MrRoundel

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    I am not the expert that Jerry and Ethan are, but I can say that yes, the movement is just what Ethan expected to see. It is the 19J grade 437 (Tom beat me to the draw.) of the extra-thin models. The movement looks intact, with the exception of a missing regulator. That may not be easy to find unless you find someone selling a parts movement. The case looks like it is very nice but has suffered some discoloration due to exposure to some element(s). The one winding wheel also shows evidence of exposure to moisture, or? Still, all in all, a nice example of the watch, and what might be a very nice example of a Knapp case, with a little sprucing up.

    That's a very nice first watch to have picked up for a song. Congratulations, and enjoy.
     
  22. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    I have two very clean Illinois 438 movements that I believe are in good running order if you, Steven661, want to restore your watch.
     
  23. musicguy

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    #23 musicguy, Aug 12, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
    Nice first watch. I really like the jeweled barrel movements
    (even though it is in rough shape)

    Rob
     
  24. Steven661

    Steven661 Registered User

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    Thank you MrRoundel. You may have been beaten to the punch, but I wasn't aware it was missing the regulator (or any other pieces for that matter?) which is a BIG help to me. As for the 438 I will keep you in mind, but the same guy has three more individual movements for sale I would like to look at.
     
  25. Steven661

    Steven661 Registered User

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    Thank you MrRoundel. You may have been beaten to the punch, but i wasn't aware it was missing the regulator (or any other pieces?). That's a big help.
     
  26. Steven661

    Steven661 Registered User

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    438s

    Your collection is beautiful and if I am in the market for a new movement I will keep you in mind. I would be lucky to own one of your 438s Ethan.
     
  27. Steven661

    Steven661 Registered User

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    Re: 438s

    Knapp 14k triple signed case. What does it mean in layman's terms to rarity or value if a case is triple signed. Initially when I asked for your folks help I was told that I needed to take a picture of either the movement or the back of the case. My case is marked on two different components with Knapp 14k 11410. The back has what I believe to be a persons' initials. Are the initials on the back good or bad and does it only make a difference if it is a signed case?
     
  28. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Re: 438s

    There are various ways the Knapp cases are marked over their years of production, including many suspected Knapp cases that are unsigned. I don't think the signature, or number of signatures relates to the rarity of the case -- these cases are uncommon enough (and getting scarcer). More important (I think) is condition and the type of enamel detailing or carving. Yours appears to have very nice enameling, making it a rather desireable case, for those of us who value men's dress watches of this era.

    Initials or monograms (or other inscriptions) are a matter of taste. Some collectors do not want a case with any engraving. However, many of us have no problem with well-executed, period engraving. For some of us we even find enhanced value in the history and context that personalization can provide.
     
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