Montgomery and marginal or continuous minute dials

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Greg Frauenhoff, Oct 24, 2019.

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  1. Greg Frauenhoff

    Greg Frauenhoff Registered User
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    Since the subject of dates for Montgomery and other marginal or continuous minute dials came up in another thread, I thought it might be informative to use period info to establish when these dials were generally available. Since the info is handy I'll start the thread with Rockford (pics are of originals in my collection).

    1907 Rockford material catalog shows no such dials.
    img246.jpg
    1911 12s material catalog shows Montgomery dials available for 16s and 18s.
    img243.jpg img244.jpg
    Jan. 1913 catalog shows Montgomery dials avaliable for 16s.
    img245.jpg
     
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  2. Rick Hufnagel

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    Elgin 1915 material catalog.

    I posted it in the other thread but seems here is a good place too

    Screenshot_20191024-111953.png
     
  3. Greg Frauenhoff

    Greg Frauenhoff Registered User
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    Regarding Hampden:

    No mention of such dials on Hampden material pages in 1910 E. A. Cowan & Co. catalog.

    Montgomery dials were available in undated (c. 1916) Hampden Material catalog.
    img247.jpg img248.jpg

    And also May 1, 1923 material catalog.
    img249.jpg
     
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  4. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Regarding Illinois:

    No mention of such dials on Illinois material pages in 1910 E. A. Cowan & Co. catalog.

    Montgomery dials were advertised in Feb. 1, 1911, Jewelers' Circular:
    img250.jpg
     
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  5. Nathan Moore

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    Henry S. Montgomery’s “Safety Numerical Dial” was introduced to the broad watch market in February 1910. The dial was already being utilized on standard clocks within the Santa Fe Railroad system as early as 1900.

    Elgin commenced an advertising campaign at the same time, describing the dial as “A Dial That Almost Speaks The Time.”

    Attached are images from the February 12, 1910 issue of The Topeka State Journal. One article describes the dial in detail, and the Elgin advertisement follows a few pages after. Based on the testimony of the traveling representative, it appears the dial was available in limited capacity prior to this time. The article closes by claiming watches produced by Elgin, Hamilton, Waltham, Illinois, Rockford, and Hampden can be purchased "from any first-class dealer" with the dial.

    The Topeka State Journal - 12 Feb 1910 - 1.png The Topeka State Journal - 12 Feb 1910 - 2.png The Topeka State Journal - 12 Feb 1910 - 3.png The Topeka State Journal - 12 Feb 1910 - 4.png
     
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  6. luvsthetick

    luvsthetick Registered User

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    Regarding Seth Thomas:

    Can we make any assumptions for Seth Thomas dials?

    It is known that the factory of Duff and Solace in Thomaston made Seth Thomas dials until sometime in 1898 when their factory burned down. I have always thought this event marked the end of the true double sunk Seth Thomas dial and their dials were then pressed dials, mainly Swiss made.

    Were Seth Thomas true double sunk Montgomery and marginal or continuous minute dials available in 1898?
     
  7. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Neat stuff. And Kent has posted a bunch in the Veritas thread.

    I hope that collectors of these old RR watches will draw the obvious conclusion that prior to 1910 true Montgomery dials were uncommon and that, when such pre-1910 dials are encountered, they will look "different" than the post-1910 mass produced ones. An example that comes to mind are the early Waltham dials signed for the Sante Route (I'm sure someone has a pic of such that they can post...mine is buried somewhere).
     
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  8. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Below is an example of the type of Montgomery dial seen on pre-1910 Walthams (some of which are marked "Sante Fe Route" on the mvt and some of which aren't).

    img257.jpg
     
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  9. Kent

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    Here are some non-Montgomery marginal minute dials:

    Marginal_Minute_Dials.jpg
     
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  10. Robert Sweet

    Robert Sweet Registered User

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    According to this article, the Montgomery dial was introduced in 1899. It's my understanding that the patent for this dial has not been located. A later patent for a different style Montgomery dial was applied for abt. 1920.

    Robert
    31579-621a0ff2cedfe4a21f35a215438135f7.jpg
     
  11. Nathan Moore

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    Thanks for posting, Robert. I have attached a larger version of the clipping on this post for reference.

    As you mentioned, there is no evidence to support a patent for this particular dial was ever granted. The patent application for the later variation of Montgomery's dial was submitted December 23, 1918. However, it was not granted until 1920.

    Larger Version of The Jewelers' Circular article from the November 8, 1899 publication:
    MontgomeryDial-JC-1899-11-08.png

    Patent illustration for Montgomery's later "Safety Dial":
    USD54950-0.png

    Production example of Montgomery's 1920 "Safety Dial":
    D54950.jpg
     
  12. Greg Frauenhoff

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    This Aurora dial is discussed in another thread but it serves to illustrate a type of marginal minute dial that preceded the Montgomery type, that is a dial with marginal 5 minute numbers.

    img263.jpg

    It dates to very early in Aurora's production, possibly late 1884. Around this time most American makers began to introduce such dials and, generally, they were used (at first) on only the higher grades. The reason is the extra time/expense of painting by hand the tiny little 5 minute numbers. Sometimes these are red and sometimes black. When dial transfer techniques were developed marginal 5 minute dials came to be used on many more grades, including the lesser ones.
     
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  13. Greg Frauenhoff

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    More on marginal 5 minute numbers.

    As the dial above shows, Aurora began making such very early in their production. Also, they used the 5 minute feature on all of their grades from 4 (11j nickel) and above (initially nos. 5 through 10). Only grades 1, 2 and 3 had dials without such.

    In contrast, Peoria dials with 5 minute numbers are rather uncommon and usually they appear only on their highest grade mvts. So FWIW (the mvts were handy), here are a couple Peoria dials (of their famous Non-Magnetic Watch Co. of America variety): both double sunk, one without and one with 5 minute numbers.

    img289.jpg
     
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  14. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Another Non-Magnetic Watch Co. (by Peoria) with 5 minute numbers.
    img124.jpg

    It would be interesting to see some early Elgin, Waltham and others makes with marginal 5 minute dials.
     
  15. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Early grade no. 8-Htg Aurora with marginal 5 minute dial:

    img126.jpg img127.jpg
     
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  16. Greg Frauenhoff

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    16s Elgin sweep seconds model. Are they marginal 5 minutes, 5 seconds or both?

    img128.jpg
     
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  17. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Does anyone have a "National Watch Co." dial with 5 minute numbers?
     
  18. Rick Hufnagel

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    I have not.

    I don't think they become more common with "Elgin Nat'l Watch Co" signatures untill you hit the period when they started using the press instead of painting.

    The 16s sweep seconds dial is by far the most expensive Elgin dial of it's time. Over double the cost of the double sunk dial for the BWR. $75 in the 1882 material catalog. I found this a bit shocking!

    Yours is very nice! I didn't think of the marginal 5 minute dials when this post came up.

    I stuck a red dot under the listing so you don't have to search the whole page.

    Screenshot_20201016-180047~2.png
     
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  19. Greg Frauenhoff

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    In considering Elgin dials with marginal 5 minute numbers (and keeping in mind that Elgin mvts and dials are plentiful and thus the opportunity for switching dials is great) it looks, at first glance, that Elgin only began using 5 minute numbers on around 1895 (excluding the sweep second models). This is surprising as my favorite company (Aurora) began using them on their dials in 1884 (both on high grade and medium grade mvts). Or am I way off base? Thoughts? Original examples?
    Rick,

    Leaving aside the sweep seconds mvts, my guess is that didn't Elgin regularly use marginal 5 minute numbers on dials until about 1895. What do you think?

    Greg

    P. S. Aurora was using 5 minute #s on many grades both high and medium in 1884.
     
  20. 179

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    Shocking even when you consider that $ 75 was for a dozen.:)
     
  21. Rick Hufnagel

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    These are 1888-93 (according to estimated dates)
    18s on the left and 16s on right.

    20201016_203154-COLLAGE.jpg
    They do not show up in any sort of pattern, but are not terribly hard to find either. I would have to assume the dials could be ordered by the jeweler, but not standard.

    As far as the consistent use of marginal 5 minute figures... The 16s model 6&7 came around in 1896 (along with the fleur de lis signature) and they typically have it on the better grades.

    Don't know about the 18s. Haven't really looked into the higher jeweled 18s that came around in the mid to late 90s.

    I would have to agree with your date.

    It was just shocking that a flat dial cost over twice as much as a double sunk! Haha. So $3 for a double sunk 18s dial and $6.25 for the 16s sweep seconds.
     
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  22. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Rick,

    I checked the Elgin material pages in an 1888 jobbers catalog and there was no mention made for dials with marginal numbers. The pages for the Waltham material did, however, mention marginal figures. As I mentioned above, Aurora, a small maker trying to grow its business, made dials with marginal 5 minute numbers from the start of production in 1884 and such were used on both high and medium grades. I suspect (but haven't investigated in detail) that other smaller makers, like Columbus, also used this feature both before and more extensively than the bigs guys.

    As for the price of sweep seconds dials, a little context might help show just how expensive they were. In the mid 1880s a typical male watch factory worker made about $2 per day. Females made about $1-1.25. Dial painters, being specialists, were probably paid by the piece and likely averaged more than $2 per day. But $6.25 for a dial is not cheap.

    Cheers,

    Greg
     
  23. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Part of my interest in the features of dials is that they help to determine a reasonable time frame for when a particular one might have been made or used. Marginal 5 minute numbers are just one "clue". Others include (1) are the pieces held together with solder or shellac, (2) is the trademark or logo hand painted or done by a transfer process, (3) if the log is done by transfer then what about the seconds bit (transfer printing of the logo came before such was applied to seconds bits), (4) what color is the BACK of the dial. Anyway, I find this stuff interesting.
     
  24. Rick Hufnagel

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    #24 Rick Hufnagel, Oct 17, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
    The 1896 Elgin Material catalog has a full assortment of marginal dials. Ladies and gents!

    Here is a link (haven't found my own copy, yet)
    Dials, Special - Net Price List of Materials Manufactured by the Elgin National Watch Co. (1896) | PWDB Digital Archive

    There is an 1888 supplement to the Elgin Material, and I do not know what all it includes, but if someone has it to compare, it would be great! It's possibly what you have, Greg.


    On another note, just went through my Hampden in Springfield Observation list and it looks like they upgraded their dials in the latter half of the 100,000s. They consistently show up at 170xxx. So whatever date you want to put on that. I'm calling it 1881-2 but it's really a guess as Hampdens serial numbers are completely bewildering for dates. Prior to this, they are single sunk. Maybe SS and circle. No marginal figures. The 1883 Hampden Material list has double sunk dials, but no mention of marginal 5 min figures. I've only seen one DS Hampden dial without the R5M figures.

    Grades that received marginal 5 min dials: Coincidentally double sunk as well.
    I believe these are in order of their release.

    Railway
    Perry
    40/41/58 (block letter)
    59/60
    42/62 (block letter)

    And by coincidence (again) I have one of my weekend watches hooked onto a chain today, a grade 40. It's one of my favorites because of this dial.

    IMG_20201017_122900253~2.jpg


    Both of my Aurora's have 5 minute figures. Both are what most would call medium to lower grade.

    Grade 2KW which I assure you.... Greg has never seen before ;):D haha

    475858d41ae4ff9c26e431801d5f8273.jpg
     
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  25. Greg Frauenhoff

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    I can't keep them all.
     
  26. Nathan Moore

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    Excellent call, Rick.

    "Marginal Figures" confirmed. Listing only, no illustrations.


    1888-Supplement-Catalog.png
     
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  27. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Cool. So we can pencil in 1888 as a date when Elgin began to regularly provide marginal 5 minute dials.

    Interestingly, the better grade 18s mvts (e. g. BWR) don't generally have them until later, especially ones with Roman hour numerals. At least that's my recollection. Also, some of the first 20j mvts (grades 149 and 150) have dials without such.
     
  28. Rick Hufnagel

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    Greg, it's also the first instance where I've seen Arabic offered.(specifically)

    I've made comments (just from looking at watches) that the big dial changes seem to happen in 1887. Nathan's snip-it, certainly helps that theory. They started making their own enamel for using the transfer process which in turn enabled them to offer this extensive list of Roman, arabic, and marginal dials on a larger scale than previous. (At seemingly lower prices). Look at those sweep seconds 16s dials. Cheaper and offered in Arabic! (Unless it's not a dozen in this catalog).

    Thoughts?

    The 149 and 150 post date the 1896 material catalog. But not by much. Assuming the catalog was written in 1895... These could very well have been offered in 1896.

    I don't own it anymore, but I did have a 17 jewel grade 27 BWR that only had the standard double sunk Roman dial with no marginal figures. Dating from around 1898.

    I would say the dial was an option at the time. To further prove the optional theory, look at these movement tins.

    IMG_20201018_121106232.jpg

    Top left is from the turn of the century, #8745335. The type of dial is stamped separately judging by the font and placement. Just your standard Roman dial.
    Top right I've pulled together 7777632, and it says special dial. 1899ish. Now on the 158 I would expect a single sunk hard enamel dial with fleur de lis signature. (No R5M) This one says special, which could mean it has a jewelers name or maybe fancy elgin dial...
    The last one is 6s, and 7793899. Again 1899ish with the standard Roman dial.

    So whenever the jobber (or whomever) ordered movements from the factory, they could specify the dial is seems. It's quite possible that the standard option was just a Roman dial. This would leave the higher jeweled grades like the 149 and 150 with these dials.

    Sorry to skew a bit from the topic, but I think it helps to start to answer "why".
     
  29. Greg Frauenhoff

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    Some info on Hampden marginal minute dials found in J. C. Perry's memo booklet around Mar. 1886. I believe the price ($36, etc.) is per dozen. So one DS dial was $3 and it cost an extra $0.50 for marginal figures.

    img129.jpg
     
  30. Greg Frauenhoff

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    A couple of mentions from Perry's memo booklet for dials with Arabic numerals. Both of these orders appear to be for the personal watches of the jewelers in question. Perry mentions numbers on them like those on his personal watch. And as luck would have it, there's a good chance we know exactly what JC Perry's dial looked like (see Jones-Horan lot #190926-69).

    img130.jpg img131.jpg
     
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  31. Rick Hufnagel

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    Can you post a link for this, I can't for the life of me get it to come up on the website. I did find a couple Perry's to add to my observation list, though!
     
  32. Greg Frauenhoff

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  33. Rick Hufnagel

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    Whew that's a nice one. Thanks!
     

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