• Upcoming updates
    Over the next couple of weeks we will be performing software updates on the forum. These will be completed in small steps as we upgrade individual software addons. You might occasionally see a maintenance message that will last a few minutes at most.

    If we anticipate an update will take more than a few minutes, we'll put up a notice with estimated time.

    Thank you!

Nickel Cases

Brian C.

Registered User
Jun 9, 2001
1,255
5
38
NH
Country
About what year did nickel pocket-watch cases come out?
 

Tom Huber

NAWCC Member
Dec 9, 2000
3,104
263
83
77
Indiana PA
Country
Region
Hi Brian, If you are referring to the nickel alloys, eg silveroid, silverode, etc, I've seen some with a patent date of 1884

Tom
 

Brian C.

Registered User
Jun 9, 2001
1,255
5
38
NH
Country
Hi Brian, If you are referring to the nickel alloys, eg silveroid, silverode, etc, I've seen some with a patent date of 1884

Tom
Yes Tom, that's what I was talking about. Thanks.
 

Clint Geller

Gibbs Literary Award
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Member
Donor
Jul 12, 2002
3,014
3,802
113
68
Pittsburgh, PA
clintgeller.com
Country
Region
The 1864 Robbins & Appleton sales catalog lists "albata" cases for sale. Albata is an earlier name for the same type of nickel-copper-zinc alloy. I have seen exactly one nickel alloy case that looked like it may have been made in that period. The case was empty, but it seems to have been made for a Waltham Model 1857 movement, and it was stamped with an eagle, which strongly suggests early 1860's origin. As I recall, the dust cover carried the name of a Civil War combatant on it. However, nickel cases certainly seem to have been scarce that early. I think exporters were still mostly selling brass cases with gold or silver plating in the low end market at that time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Brian C.

Brian C.

Registered User
Jun 9, 2001
1,255
5
38
NH
Country
The 1864 Robbins & Appleton sales catalog lists "albata" cases for sale. Albata is an earlier name for the same type of nickel-copper-zinc alloy. I have seen exactly one nickel alloy case that looked like it may have been made in that period. The case was empty, but it seems to have been made for a Waltham Model 1857 movement, and it was stamped with an eagle, which strongly suggests early 1860's origin. As I recall, the dust cover carried the name of a Civil War combatant on it. However, nickel cases certainly seem to have been scarce that early. I think exporters were still mostly selling brass cases with gold or silver plating in the low end market at that time.
 

Tom McIntyre

Technical Admin
Staff member
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Ruby Member
Sponsor
Golden Circle
Aug 24, 2000
85,315
3,003
113
86
Boston
awco.org
Country
Region
I doubt that these preceded the full nickel cases, but Waltham 2 oz coin cases often have Albata metal inner covers..
 

Clint Geller

Gibbs Literary Award
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Member
Donor
Jul 12, 2002
3,014
3,802
113
68
Pittsburgh, PA
clintgeller.com
Country
Region
I doubt that these preceded the full nickel cases, but Waltham 2 oz coin cases often have Albata metal inner covers..
According to the 1864 R&A catalog, a 2 oz silver case with a "German silver cap" wholesaled for $9.50, and an "albata" case wholesaled for $2.50. This tells me that they were not talking about 2 oz. silver cases with albata dust covers for $2.50, as the price difference with fully silver cases was too great for that to make sense. Also, R&A for some reason made a distinction between albata and "German silver," even though Wikipedia claims that all of the following terms, "Nickel silver, Maillechort, German silver, Argentan, new silver, nickel brass, albata, alpacca, and electrum" supposedly were used to describe nickel alloy cases. (Note: "electrum" is also the name given to naturally occurring mixtures of gold and silver, usually with trace amounts of copper. I have an electrum specimen in my mineral collection.)

As I said, I have seen exactly one albata case that I am comfortable concluding dates to the early to middle 1860's. Have you seen contemporaneous Waltham 2 oz silver cases with albata dust covers, Tom? It should be noted that the same page of the same 1864 R&A catalog also advertises "gold watches from 10k to 20k constantly on hand," but no prices are given for those cases. I've never seen a solid 10k or a 20k gold american watch case from that period, either. So perhaps R&A advertised some things they didn't actually have on hand.
 
Last edited:

Tom McIntyre

Technical Admin
Staff member
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Ruby Member
Sponsor
Golden Circle
Aug 24, 2000
85,315
3,003
113
86
Boston
awco.org
Country
Region
I have never studied the case history except a bit on the gold cases. I had noticed the A engraved on the inside of the cap on many, if not most, 2 oz coin marked cases. I believe I have seen very early cases, pre 1857 marked coin but I do not have any documentation.
 

Kent

Gibbs Literary Award
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Gold Member
Aug 26, 2000
18,707
2,591
113
Country
This seems to be the place to repost the below notice.

1884_Silveroid.jpg
 
Last edited:

Clint Geller

Gibbs Literary Award
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Member
Donor
Jul 12, 2002
3,014
3,802
113
68
Pittsburgh, PA
clintgeller.com
Country
Region
This seems to be the place to repost the below notice.

View attachment 489935
But as mentioned, nickel-copper- ... alloys, in general, were known at least 2 decades before 1884, as evidenced in the 1864 R&A trade sales catalog. Hence, the only supposed novelty suggested in this 1884 announcement is the undisclosed method of thermomechanical treatment. I would have to regard that as an unsubstantiated claim.
 
Last edited:

Tom McIntyre

Technical Admin
Staff member
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Ruby Member
Sponsor
Golden Circle
Aug 24, 2000
85,315
3,003
113
86
Boston
awco.org
Country
Region
That is a good data point Kent, but there is no particular reason to believe its statements are true.

Invented implies a patent. Google Patents cannot find a patent dated before 1900 with the word silveroid in it. The proliferation of names implies that this was a wide open scramble for white brasses like German Silver.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Clint Geller

Bildeborg

Registered User
May 15, 2018
245
35
28
61
Cornwall, England.
Country
Region
I hope this is ok but this thread gives me the opportunity to ask something that has been on my mind quite some while.

Has anyone ever noticed a strange smell on their hands after handling Silveroid and the like cases? I get it all the time from simply winding them up to regulating them, I'm always left with this metallic smell on my fingers.

Regards,

Jay.
 

sabphd

Registered User
Nov 11, 2000
66
3
8
These " silveroid" cases with other similar names were alloys of nickel and most likely copper and zinc. It is a uniform solid through and through, and is a very sturdy,"white" material where there is no outer layer to wear off as is the issue with plated,rolled gold plate, or gold filled cases which is a gold layer covering a base metal. An important question to ask is why the metallurgists could not develop a solid " yellow" base case that would not readily tarnish,. as does brass
 

Tom McIntyre

Technical Admin
Staff member
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Ruby Member
Sponsor
Golden Circle
Aug 24, 2000
85,315
3,003
113
86
Boston
awco.org
Country
Region
An important question to ask is why the metallurgists could not develop a solid " yellow" base case that would not readily tarnish,. as does brass
I think that may have been Pinchbeck. Alumigold was also around for a while. It is likely that most thought gold was less expensive since you could roll to your hearts content to get down the cost and still have a rather sturdy surface for the life of the wearer.

It is a little strange that more was not done but it may have been difficult to get a convincing color.
 

Clint Geller

Gibbs Literary Award
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Member
Donor
Jul 12, 2002
3,014
3,802
113
68
Pittsburgh, PA
clintgeller.com
Country
Region
It is relatively difficult to develop a metal alloy, other than gold itself, that has gold's yellow color, because most metals are intrinsically silver-grey. There are exceptions other than gold, such as cesium (not useful owing to its very low melting point and high chemical reactivity), and copper (which is reddish), for example. Metals tend to be silver-grey because they tend to reflect all visible colors of light with nearly equal strength. However, near the high end of the visible energy range, in the blue, the reflectivity of gold drops off. And since blue is the complement of yellow, gold looks yellow. (Conversely, if you shine a white light through a thin leaf of gold, it will appear blue-green, as this is the only light that penetrates.) This behavior of gold can be predicted based on the electron "energy band" structure of the material. I won't encumber folks with the details of that, except to point out the interesting fact that one gets the wrong answer for gold unless one accounts for the strong quantum relativistic effects in that very large atom (with 79 electrons around a nucleus with 79 positive charges in it). (Cesium is also quite big, with Atomic Number 55.) This is also why gold is so atypical optically.
 
  • Like
Reactions: musicguy

Forum statistics

Threads
178,998
Messages
1,570,072
Members
54,045
Latest member
QMAC
Encyclopedia Pages
909
Total wiki contributions
3,088
Last edit
Swiss Fake by Kent