Warranted Aluminium..... or is it?

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Mark UK, Mar 20, 2017.

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  1. Mark UK

    Mark UK Registered User

    Apr 13, 2015
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    I have found a few old threads here discussing these cases but none of them came to any conclusions... maybe someone has something new to add?

    The case is solid, weighty, well built, hinges are still as tight as when new but.... it has no makers marks apart from the words 'Warranted Aluminium' around a crown. Ignore the movement, I quickly added a spare 1883 keywind to show that it is as good a fit as any English silver or coin silver cases I have seen. The case has no movement screw marks, none, nothing to suggest what it might have originally housed. Aluminium spelled the English way, but the US used this spelling for a while. A fleur-de-lis on the rear so could be French but this symbol is widely used around the world. A Waltham 1883 sits perfectly, but I have had a couple of Swiss keywinds with exact same profile and wind position. Any ideas?

    What is it made of? It says Aluminium but it carries a lot of weight. The color suggests brass. On the inner glass bezel, on the dial flange and around the movement fitting flange I can clearly see rose gold, so was it plated? Does Aluminium take gold plate? If it was entirely plated in rose gold which has now worn or been polished off then why is the engraving on the rear still fairly fresh, or at least I would have expected this to show a lot heavier wear. If brass then why does it say 'Aluminium'... is this an early forgery?

    Curious... I have only had it for a few hours and already I have fallen in love with it and have a beaut of an orphan 1883 ready for a new home :)
     

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  2. Tom Huber

    Tom Huber Registered User
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    Dec 9, 2000
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    It is more than likely aluminum. Noted the English spelling--Aluminium. In the 19th century, Aluminum was an expensive metal due to the processing. It only became common when new and cheaper processing methods became available.

    I have several aluminum cases, all from the 19th century. They are good, functional, solid cases.
     
  3. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    The very similar one I have is marked "Alumigold" and appears to be an aluminum copper alloy perhaps with a bit of iron in it.
     
  4. Firegriff

    Firegriff Registered User
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    One of the stories I have herd about the early uses of aluminum is that they made some civil war medals out of it because it was worth more than gold at the time mostly because it takes large amounts of electricity to make and there were not many large electrical generating plants in the 1860's
     
  5. Mark UK

    Mark UK Registered User

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    Thanks Tom, once again I think you have nailed it. I've just been reading up on the alloy 'Aluminium Bronze' and it appears that the alloy of aluminium and copper has a variety of properties depending on the other ingredients, such as iron, nickel or lead.... that explains the weight. An early alloy was used for jewellery because of it's close color to gold so I would bet that was where the watch case material originated.

    So the answer is 'yes' it is aluminium and the 'warranted' is somewhat credible with anywhere from 10% upwards of aluminium content, after all it was still an expensive material at the time.
     
  6. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Aluminum was made by something like distillation at the beginning, I think. I am almost certain it was not made with electricity until around 1900. If I were not too lazy to look it up, I think the process is described pretty thoroughly. Maybe Wikipedia would be a good place to look.
     
  7. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    Napoleon III was said to have had an aluminium dinner service because it was worth more than gold.
     
  8. 4thdimension

    4thdimension Registered User
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    In 1884 when the Washington monument was capped with it the
    price of aluminum was $1- an ounce.-Cort
     
  9. Firegriff

    Firegriff Registered User
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    from the Wik way over my pointy headi--The conversion of alumina to aluminium metal is achieved by the Hall–Héroult process. In this energy-intensive process, a solution of alumina in a molten (950 and 980 °C (1,740 and 1,800 °F)) mixture of cryolite (Na[SUB]3[/SUB]AlF[SUB]6[/SUB]) with calcium fluoride is electrolyzed to produce metallic aluminium:Al[SUP]3+[/SUP] + 3 e[SUP]−[/SUP] → Al
     
  10. Firegriff

    Firegriff Registered User
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  11. topspin

    topspin Registered User

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    I remember touching on this at school during both chemistry and geography. The geography bit was that wherever you find an aluminium plant, you'll often find its own dedicated power station (typically hydro-electric) right next to it.
     
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