Private Label Research

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by musicguy, Apr 15, 2018 at 8:16 AM.

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  1. musicguy

    musicguy Registered User
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    #1 musicguy, Apr 15, 2018 at 8:16 AM
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018 at 8:22 AM
    I looked to see if there was a thread not about any particular
    private label watch company, but just about them in general.
    I have a bunch of them and I find private label watches personally some of my favorite
    watches that I own. I have on multiple occasions contacted the
    historical society(or local museum) in the town listed on the
    dial(or the movement) of the watch. I have also(as many people here have done)
    researched through the internet and found articles in the Jewelers Circular
    and advertisements for the jeweler in local and regional newspapers.
    I have researched the Jewelers(watchmakers) name and some of their genealogy.
    All of the above add great enjoyment to collecting pocket watches.
    In addition to all those great thing, it is also exciting to get one
    from a local town or somewhere that you have a connection to.

    The reason I am writing this particular thread is that I just acquired one that I'm
    really excited about and have started my research on it. I've emailed the
    historical society and I've found mention of the jeweler in a few different places.
    There is also an extra added bonus if the private label watch is
    one of the Watch companies that you collect, and even a grater bonus
    if it one of the Grade watches you like most in the watch company you collect.

    Also I just wanted to add that these watches come in all sizes(as most here already know) and
    I have from 0s to 18s ones


    Rob
     
  2. Candew

    Candew Registered User

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    Yes private label watches are interesting. A friend of mine gave me his grandfathers watch to see if I could fix it. Someone at one point had cross threaded the back cover which took quite a bit of doing to finally get off without damaging the case.

    All I knew about the watch was the jeweler name on the face and once I got the back off discovered what make and model it was.

    In researching it I found not only the town the jeweler was in but an actual photograph if the store front taken during a parade.

    I gave the watch a good cleaning, checked it for accuracy for a week then gave it back with all the research data I had collected.

    My friend was ecstatic and as it turned out his grandfather had actually lived in the jewelers town at one point in his life.
     
  3. luvsthetick

    luvsthetick Registered User

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    Rob,

    Like you, I always try contacting related historical societies for information on merchants who originally sold the private labels I have. Sometimes I get no response yet other times I get a bounty of information. Even better is getting an enthusiastic respondent willing to search and provide pictures (if available) of the storefront where the watch was sold new. I especially like this one showing the merchant, staff and store. At the Wentworth store you could pick up a new Seth Thomas while looking at a wide variety of merchandise.

    Here is the watch and the W. L. Wentworth storefront (Thanks, Historical Society).

    a (7).JPG a (2)-001.JPG WLWentworth_2a.jpg
     
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  4. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    I'd love to have that watch chain on the guy on the left, maybe that is Watson?. A little history on Watson L Wentworth, born Mass 12/11/1844, died Bridgeport, CT 8/4/1905, buried Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport along side his wife Clara. Worked as a mechanic in a sewing machine factory in 1870 and 1880, served in the 1st Mass Cavalry in the Civil War, applied for a pension in 1890. Seems to found the furniture store sometime after 1883, he sold furniture, oil cloth, carpets, clothing, etc on Broadway in Bridgeport and also on John St as well. His wife, Clara was born 3/13/1846 and died in 2/9/1893. in 1900 he is living with his daughter, Harriet, and her husband William Mix and their children Clara and Leroy W.
     
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  5. ben_hutcherson

    ben_hutcherson Registered User
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    This book has been incredibly useful to me with the PLs I collect

    IMG_5185.jpg

    If nothing else, it will usually give me SOMETHING to go off of-such as an address and/or time frame-so that I can go hunting on my own.

    BTW, there is a second edition planned for "some time" and where relevant photographs of watches from my collection will likely be in it.
     
  6. luvsthetick

    luvsthetick Registered User

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    Richie,
    Thanks for the family history about Wentworth, I only knew about the two stores he operated. The picture I posted is the Broadway store which the Historical Society claimed had watches on the merchandise list.
     
  7. musicguy

    musicguy Registered User
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    #7 musicguy, Apr 16, 2018 at 9:03 AM
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018 at 9:21 AM
    I saw a 7 jewel Waltham PL that sold yesterday(not to me). I did a quick search(was thinking about buying it at the time)
    and I found many watches with the same PL name(and city) on the dial. This made me think of my own collection.
    Of all the Private Label watches that I currently own (other than a John Wanamaker that I no longer own)
    I can't find a singe other example of the same PL watch (here on this forum) or anywhere using Google search.
    I do find the jeweler, advertisements and other references to them but
    no other watches. And that includes(in most cases) other watches with the same town or city on them.

    Many PL watches "that are in the wild" the current owners have
    no Idea that they might have an Illinois, Elgin, Hamilton, Waltham, Columbus, Hampden, Rockford etc. etc.
    I have seen so many that are for sale that are just listed as the name on the dial or the movement.
    I saw one(this week) that was just listed as "old pocket watch" and in the description
    is says, "Found in my grandfathers house I searched the name on the watch and couldn't find anything
    so I don't know what this watch is."

    Edit....even the Waltham watch I talk about in my first paragraph was not listed as a Waltham.


    Rob
     
  8. ben_hutcherson

    ben_hutcherson Registered User
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    This is where Erhardt's "Beginning to End"(the gold book) and the "blue book"(Encyclopedia of American Watches Volume 2: The Illinois Watch Company) can be extremely helpful. Both have lists of observed PLs at the time of publication, although obviously the latter is limited to Illinois watches. The gold book is approaching 30 years old, and the blue book is even older, but they are great references for now.

    Also, folks who have an interest in a particular type of PL-whether it's a brand, a region, or something else-can probably give you some info about whether or not they've seen another example. I track Kentucky PLs. I use to buy every single one I saw, but once I have an example from a given store I will often only buy a second one if it's a good upgrade or substantially different. Of course, there's also the case of certain ones that "push my buttons." Fred sold me one this past weekend that I was very excited about even though I have another example from the same jeweler-it was for a jeweler in my home town that just went out of business a year or two ago.
     
  9. musicguy

    musicguy Registered User
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    Nice, I currently live in a small town so finding one in my hometown might be hard.
    I have researched a few that I wanted to buy that actually were still in business
    and if I had won the auction I was going to contact the current owners.


    Rob
     

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