NAWCC: Cradle of Ignorance

Discussion in 'Horological Books' started by Richard Watkins, Oct 24, 2005.

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  1. Richard Watkins

    Richard Watkins Registered User
    NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Member

    This is an extension of the “Very curious” thread, but I feel it deserves a separate title.

    After a full front cover ad on the October 2005 bulletin and two full page ads and order forms in the Mart (August and October) I learn that LESS THAN 200 COPIES of the special order “Boston: Cradle of American Watchmaking” have been ordered.

    And for the cost of $41 (a ludicrously small amount) you get 3 books and a CD.

    Compare this with the “Very curious” thread which has been visited 682 times; presumably 20 or so people have visited 30 or 40 times each. Or 600 odd people are happy to buy into a discussion but not buy into a book.

    Compare this with the “Niebling book poll” thread which has been visited 806 times. Perhaps 800 people would like to see Niebling’s book reprinted, but I bet ALMOST NONE OF THEM would actually bother to buy it.

    Also note that the Pocket Watches section of the message board has 49,970 posts over 7967 topics. Nearly 50,000 ACTIVE participations.

    I suspect NAWCC members may have cut their own throats. I can’t imagine the NAWCC board bothering to produce special books ever again. After all, why put an enormous amout of work into something that the members obviously do not want?

    But there is a plus to all this. I now feel very happy that I have managed to sell 50 copies of the Jacques David reports! In comparison to the NAWCC I have done very well.
     
  2. Modersohn

    Modersohn Registered User

    Nov 15, 2003
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    Richard, your protest is interesting.

    However, assuming rational behavior (as economists do, for the sake of argument, and to open up a space for thinking), how do you explain this phenomenon.

    I myself haven't ordered the books. Having read your post, I believe I will.

    However, I'm curious (to borrow a term) as to your speculations on the deafeningly silent response to the offer.

    Jessica

    PS I notice that the price is increasing significantly after October 21, but the order form doesn't mention the present price.

    So I'll have to wait. It might help sales if there were online ordering, rather than having to print out and mail the form.
     
  3. Wes

    Wes Registered User

    Aug 19, 2002
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    Come on Jessica online ordering would be too easy...
     
  4. mrb

    mrb Guest

    There has always been a hardcore segment of the nawcc very interested in the history and science of horology. The small attendance at the educational seminars bears evidence of this. They truly are a dedicated knowledgeable skilled group.The majority however are
    interested only in amassing huge collections,
    ruining clocks with their amateur repair skills,
    and bragging about their steals, I mean deals.
    Their constant whining is what has turned off many towards this org.
    It is the dedicated core that continues to
    provide excellent publications, seminars, etc.
    Another example of an excellent book was the
    Hodges book. It probably still hasn't sold out after these many years. I continue to admire the researchers who have amassed the information available to all through an excellent lbrary!
     
  5. Andy Dervan

    Andy Dervan Registered User
    Gibbs Literary Award NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Member

    Oct 23, 2002
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    Hello Richard,

    It is unfortunate that many NAWCC members more interested in "what something is worth" rather than its history or horological significance.

    I attended the 2002 Seminar and was blown away with the quality of the presentations and wonderful watches to look at - and I am not really a pocket watch collector.

    The American Watch Company started a watchmaking and industrial revolution! The Company in its day is the equivalent of Intel and Microsoft. It had an enormous impact driving forward the US mechanical industries and technologies.

    I am one of 200 who ordered the books and CD and I will enjoy reading them....Andy Dervan
     
  6. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    #6 bangster, Oct 25, 2005
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2017
    WOW! Some attitude there, merb. Everbody who didn't buy the book is a whiny, acquisitive, ham-handed troglodyte. You wake up constipated this morning or something?

    bangster
     
  7. Modersohn

    Modersohn Registered User

    Nov 15, 2003
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    By the way, if anyone is interested, the books and cd are available at introductory prices until the end of the month--extended from Oct. 21.

    Also, if you email the giftshop, you can actually send your credit card number and address, and order online !!!

    Now you'd think they'd mention this on their order form--I only found out by following Richard's thoughtful suggestion that I ask if the lower price was still available.

    But-- the people were helpful and response. So, see, Wes-- it's not all bad... :eek: (this is the only smilie I'm admitting to)


    Jessica
     
  8. 4thdimension

    4thdimension Registered User

    Oct 18, 2001
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  9. mrb

    mrb Guest

    I stand by what I said. Actually I am glad the majority have little interest in education. As a restorer and horological literature collector it makes it so much easier to obtain material.
    Many repairers and restorers know what happened once the tool collecting boom hit. Great tools that should have been in the hands of knowledgeable people ended on shelves as an interesting geegaw.
    Doubt my comments? Next time you are at a meeting or mart; observe the conversations.
     
  10. mrb

    mrb Guest

    BTW. A wonderful lady, Mrs. Kathleen Pritchard recently passed away. Little comment appeared on this board. She not only published one of the great contributions to the watch world, she spent countless, hours, weeks, years volunteering in the NAWCC Library. I think of all the people she helped, yet very few even took the time to acknowledge this wonderful person. You want to talk about giants in this organization? She was heads and shoulders over giants!
     
  11. mikeh

    mikeh Registered User

    Mar 5, 2001
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    Personally, I don't see what the problem is if a fellow is into horology more for the mechanics than the American side of it's history. Where's the rub?

    My own obsession started with the purchase of a nondescript 12s Waltham in an antique store in Orange, CA. It was later, when I purchased a price guide (to find out how much I overpaid) and started reading the 'How a Watch Works' section that my interest snowballed.

    On the other hand, I do own several books by Crossman, Harrold, and the like, but it just so happens that the ones by Daniels, Decarle, Fried, etc., are the ones that interest me the most.

    In the end, $41 seemed like a small price to pay to avoid being thought an imbecile so I called today and purchased the Cradle collection too. :rolleyes: Actually, I had planned on ordering it all along but I just hadn't taken the time. :)
     
  12. RL

    RL Registered User
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    Mar 28, 2004
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    mrb,
    Gene Klodzen gave the news about Mrs. K Pritchard on the NAWCC News forum. After I read the news --I immediately started a thread "Re: Kathleen Pritcard" to extend the news and give members a place to respond to the news of this person. I for one-- have been keenly aware of her contributions to horology and to the NAWCC.
    The thread is still there in Horological Miscellaneous--about 6 threads down.
     
  13. Mike Kearney

    Mike Kearney Guest

    In 2002 I attended a local chapter meeting where Mrs. Pritchard spoke. Her presentation was great, as usual. I brought my copy of Vol 1 of her wonderful 'Swiss Timepiece Makers 1775-1975' and asked her if she would autograph it for me. I told her how much I appreciated her work and how often I used it. She was very polite and signed it for me, and then asked me why I hadn't brought Vol II? That's how thorough she was...

    God bless her.

    Regards,
    Mike
     
  14. bchaps

    bchaps Registered User

    Dec 16, 2001
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    In the earlier "Curious" thread, Fortunat touched on budget. I probably spend far more on Horological books than the average member...averaging at least $500/year for the past 4 years. But, I still must prioritize my book purchases. Certainly, I would like "Cradle" for my library, but what's most important to me right now. I entered this forum to praise "Know the Escapement", a very helpful book published some sixty years ago by Homer and Sarah Barkus. Lacking a formal Horological education, I depend on these old authors along with hands-on experience and the NAWCC message board to develop my skills. Based on the level of discussion in both the watch and clock forums, a large majority of the participants are like me...learning by the seat of ther pants. And quite frankly, Fried and de Carle are probably more needed right now by our "Repair Members" than "Cradle". The core issue is what Fortunat detailed - our small numbers. With such a limited audience the future of Horological publishing is bleak. I imagine internet PDF downloads or self-publishing similar to the Steven Conover series will be all that can succeed. By the way, in his introduction Homer Barkus bemoans the fact that many watch repairmen "can not even intelligently discuss the watch escapment". Our industry hasn't progressed very far in 60 years. Bill
     
  15. mrb

    mrb Guest

    Barkus- one of my favorites when I was an apprentice! he was quite an individual!
     
  16. luger

    luger Registered User

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    #16 luger, Nov 27, 2005
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2017
    I checked out your site and can appreciate what you are trying to say about the Jacques David, report, however, I am not so sure that his report was suppressed for 115 years. In any event, are you aware of the small (31 page) pamphlet entitled “Le Rouage Dégrippé”? It is available free from the "Convention Patronale de l’industrie horlogère suisse" (CP). This little pamphlet in French chronicles the cyclical crises of the Swiss watch industry. Of particular note, there is the following minor reference @ page 12. “The first crisis [of Swiss horology] began in 1875, when Jacques David of Longines went to America and was amazed by the level of technology employed by the American Watchmakers as well as their standardized parts production, assembly methods and tools that were light-years ahead of anything the Swiss could then even conceive.” The CP discuss the impact of the quartz crisis, which actually began in 1962; the Swiss hegemony of the 1970’s; the fall of the Swiss in the 1980’s and the renaissance of the 1990’s. It is in French, I don’t believe it is available in English. It was published in 1995.
     
  17. Richard Watkins

    Richard Watkins Registered User
    NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Member

    Luger, thanks for the reference to the pamphlet which I will get.

    "I am not so sure that his report was suppressed for 115 years." There is an element of advertising in my statement, but it is basically true. As David pointed out in his second report, if the Americans knew of the first report they would probably have become distinctly unhelpful. David's advice was followed in that the reports were not printed. Only a very few hand-written copies were made (6 or less?) for distribution to those who needed to know. Because there were so few copies the reports disappeared from sight and were largely forgotten until Longines printed a facsimile in the 1990s.

    What is important is the content of the first report. Unlike other printed reports on the 1876 exhibition, which were merely vague exhortations to change the Swiss industry, David provides precise information on methods and tools. In doing so he gives a snapshot of American manufacturing at the time. Indeed, I know of no other contemporary description of American watchmaking methods which is anywhere near as comprehensive or detailed and certainly there is no other description (contemporary or otherwise) that accurately states the extent of interchangeability achieved and its limitations.

    PS: I once had a Luger pistol for a short time when I was about 10. My father found it and confiscated it! Dang!
     
  18. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    Richard


    Tanks to your translation of the Francillion book on Longines I know that David was a high ranking employee of Longines. They were one of the few integrated manufacturers in Switzerland. Do you suppose that they had and the other similar houses a proprietary interest in not spreading the word too far?
     
  19. Richard Watkins

    Richard Watkins Registered User
    NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Member

    Jon: "I know that David was a high ranking employee of Longines ... Do you suppose that they had and the other similar houses a proprietary interest in not spreading the word too far?"

    I don't think so. When he presented his report in a talk to the Intercantonal Committee most of the major makers would have been present.

    One interesting point is that presumably the English visitors to the exhibition could also have had guided tours of the factories and learned as much, if they had wanted to. Maybe some did, but everything I have read suggests they ignored what they saw. The few early attempts to use machinery appear to be much less complete and most were largely unsuccessful.
     
  20. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    Richard

    From what I have seen the English were very complacent, I think becuase they saw themselves at teh top of the market.


    The high end English Watch of 1860 was head ands shoulders better than anything made anywhere (although there were some Swiss items in the 1870's that were very good) When the ENglish industry was in its finals days in the 1920's they were still making the same watch and finishing old stock. Th eworld had passed them, not in quality but in doing the same performance at much lower cost.

    I think this is more a condition of being at teh top of th emarket than a National trait. From 1900 to about 1950 General Electric had the world's best plants for making electric generators. They grew similarly complacent and did not even allow theor people to go the Engineering conventions (why give away information) When I moved to Schenectady New York in 1979 they had no new order but a 15 year back log. They finished the backlog and most of those factories have been leveled to reduce local tax.

    Alos th eEngish manufacture was largely a cottage industry with specialists so there woudl have been no simple way to transfer it to an industrial base.

    I don't theink they ignored it in the sense of dismissing it. Those in the know probably advised their sons to find other work.

    Mercer's book on Chronometers is poignant on this. He considered the Hamilton Chronometer to be a breed apart, he regarded it as out of his league.

    The American Industry and likely the Swiss could not succeeed until they had hte local infra structure to support it. It needs suppliers of material, equipment and trained workers. It takes generations each feeding its descendents. This is why such factories produce so many jobs and why their loss is so devastating. Current planners use ten outside workers for each internal one.

    The factory is the top of the iceburg. Without such infrastructure it cannot thrive.

    To me the interesting question is why did the English succeed in building an optical equipment industry but not a watch industry (It may be argued that both were equally successful, filling local need and war requirements but even here British optics did better than watches)
     
  21. luger

    luger Registered User

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    Hey, the special books all old ref::sold out sold out...you must have had a great effect.
     
  22. Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki National Library Chair
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    The special Order supplements are SPECIAL in that only as many (or very few more) are printed as are preordered.

    Unfortunatly NAWCC in the past vastly overestimated demand for some of its oublications and consequently has scarce capital tied up forever in inventory. I am afraid that under the new SOSupplements the pendulum has swung too far the other way, there may noy be enough copies to even satisfy the initial demand.


    Fortunat
     
  23. Richard Watkins

    Richard Watkins Registered User
    NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Member

    Fortunat,
    I think all publishers cherish the belief that there are people out there who want to be educated, learn and understand. Sadly we all discover this is not true. But it takes a while to realise that there is no point printing lots of copies in the hope they will sell. They won't.
     
  24. 4thdimension

    4thdimension Registered User

    Oct 18, 2001
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    Fortunat,
    Sold out? On the one hand, that's great, no money tied up in overstock and no storage problems but I was telling someone about the books today who was looking forward to purchasing a set. When I ordered mine I had the impression the pre-order deal was, simply, a deal on a prepublication order and that the price would go up after.

    It would seem wise to use a print on demand publisher in the future for these projects. There would be no overstock or storage issues and a new supply would arrive within a couple of weeks. Also, updates could be added, typos fixed, an index added etc. with each order.
    -Cort
     
  25. Modersohn

    Modersohn Registered User

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    The reasons that the English seemed utterly indifferent to American advances in manufacturing is one that probably hasn't been fully understood.

    On one hand, there may have been the conservative system, in which each generation of watchmakers reproduced themselves, with tight control on entry and development in the field.

    As has been observed of breaks in scientific paradigms, it's only when the older generation of scientists leaves the scene (dies, in effect) that the new paradigm becomes dominant. But if the hold of each generation is so strong that entrants with new ideas are stronglly discouraged, or even penalized, perhaps new ideas don't gain enough adherents.

    Also, there is the fact that the British clearly dominated the high end, and might well have seen manufacture of less expensive watches, through means that were not as craftsmen but as technicians or machinists, and relatively less demanding, as demeaning to them as makers.

    It's a pretty interesting question, though.

    Jessica
     

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