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Aurora Movements Made Expressly for the USJGuild

In the 1880s, largely through the instigation of W. N. Boynton, an organization called the United States Jewelers' Guild was formed. Its purpose was to create a standardized quality of jeweler's goods, identified with a trademark, that were sold exclusively to Guild members, who were, for the most part, retail jewelers. Besides silver items, this group also contracted with the Aurora Watch Co. to make watch movements with their trademark on them. These movements are the topic of this article.

Beginning in 1887 and ending (for the most part) in the fall of 1889, Aurora made a number of 18 size movements for the United States Jewelers' Guild. They can be identified by the markings "Made Expressly" on the train plate and "For The USJGuild" on the barrel bridge. Most have dials marked with the intertwined letters "USJG", which represented the group's trademark, but a significant number have dials with the name of the original Guild member who purchased the movement on them.

Closeup view of USJG monogram on dial:


The Guild movements were made in 12 different grades and most of the runs for them can be found, along with the name of the purchasing jeweler, in the surviving factory records. Total production of all grades was a bit more than 3000.

A trade magazine ad for Aurora's Guild movements:


Grade No. 42: Hunting, 11 Jewels, Nickel Plates
ETP = 240

Grade No. 43: Hunting, 11 Jewels, Gilt Plates
ETP = 380

Grade No. 44: Open Face, 11 Jewels, Nickel Plates
ETP = 340

Grade No. 45: Open Face, 11 Jewels, Gilt Plates
ETP = 590

Grade No. 46: Hunting, 15 Jewels, Nickel Plates
ETP = 360. Runs found in factory records are 45101-200, 45801-46000, 140541-550, 140701-750.
Grade No. 46 examples known or documented.
Serial NumberDate FinishedDate SoldSold ToOther
45160not mkd "Adjusted"
45200not mkd "Adjusted"
45811Wilbur & Peterson, Galesburg, Ill.not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
45813Wilbur & Peterson, Galesburg, Ill.not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
45815Wilbur & Peterson, Galesburg, Ill.not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
45816Wilbur & Peterson, Galesburg, Ill.not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
45829not mkd "Adjusted"
45841not mkd "Adjusted"
45898
45940not mkd "Adjusted"
45951
45952not mkd "Adjusted"
45971seen and reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
1405428/31/899/4/89Wilbur & Peterson, Galesburg, Ill.seen and reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90, correct DS dial signed Wilbur & Peterson, marked "Adjusted" and has a Breguet hairspring.
1405478/7/898/8/89Wilbur & Peterson, Galesburg, Ill.not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
1405488/7/898/8/89Wilbur & Peterson, Galesburg, Ill.not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
1405498/7/898/8/89Wilbur & Peterson, Galesburg, Ill.not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
140707
1407378/31/8910/12/89Frank D. Day, Duluth, Minn.Dial signed Frank D. Day

Most grade no. 46 movement have flat hairsprings and are not marked "Adjusted". However the known mvt #140542 is marked "Adjusted" and has a Breguet hairspring. This mvt is from a run of 10 (#s 140541-550) that was sold to Wilbur & Peterson of Galesburg, Ill. It and 3 others from this run were used in RR service on the CB&Q. Another run of 10 mvts (#s 45811-820), many of which were also used on the CB&Q, was also sold to Wilbur & Peterson. It is reasonable to assume that these 20 mvts were all marked "Adjusted" and fitted with Breguet hairsprings as they were intended for use in RR service. They are either a rare variant of the grade no. 46 or a grade no. 50 from an unusual serial number range.

S/n 45952: a typical grade no. 46 as it has a flat hairspring and is not marked "Adjusted".


S/n 140542: a rare grade no. 46 variant that is marked "Adjusted", has a Breguet hairspring and was used in RR service on the Burlington Route:


Correct original double sunk dial signed Wilbur & Peterson on s/n 140542:


Performance data from a Burlington Route list showing that Aurora #140542 was used in RR service. #140542 is one of the more interesting and well documented RR watches in existence.


Grade No. 47: Hunting, 15 Jewels, Gilt Plates
ETP = 210

Grade No. 48: Open Face, 15 Jewels, Nickel Plates
ETP = 370. Runs found in factory records are 44501-510, 44541-550, 44801-900, 45201-300, 46001-100 and 49401-450.
All known grade no. 48 movements have flat hairsprings and are not marked "Adjusted".

Grade No. 49: Open Face, 15 Jewels, Gilt Plates
ETP = 250

Grade No. 50: Hunting, 15 Jewels, Adjusted, Nickel Plates
ETP = 70. Runs found in factory records are 81301-310 and 81701-750. There is also one mvt known in the range 82521-530.
Grade No. 50 examples known or documented.
Serial NumberDate FinishedDate SoldSold ToOther
81301shown in period adv cut
81708
817155/31/888/21/89A. J. Hall & Son, San Francisco, Cal.
81718not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
817274/20/885/21/88E. A. Barnitz & Son, York, Pa.
81728not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
817315/25/8811/1/88S. D. Wilson, Salem, Ohio
817385/25/8812/3/88Smelz & Hobbs, Marva, Ill.
81739
81749not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
82523red gold trim

Grade No. 50 mvt #81738:


Grade No. 51: Hunting, 15 Jewels, Adjusted, Gilt Plates
ETP = 80. Runs in the factory records are 62421-430, 62551-580 and 62701-740.

Grade No. 52: Open Face, 15 Jewels, Adjusted, Nickel Plates
ETP = 50. Run found in factory records is 81851-900.
Grade No. 52 examples known or documented.
Serial NumberDate FinishedDate SoldSold ToOther
818515/31/888/29/88Jebb Bros., Jacksonville, Ill.
818675/14/886/28/88W. L. Young, Geneva, NYDS dial signed W. L. Young
81878not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
81879not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
81896not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
81899not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
819005/11/885/26/88H. J. Young, Joliet, Ill.correct original DS dial signed H. J. Young

Grade No. 53: Open Face, 15 Jewels, Adjusted, Gilt Plates
ETP = 110. There are 3 runs for this grade in the factory records: 61831-840, 62591-600 and 62801-890.
Grade No. 53 examples known or documented.
Serial NumberDate FinishedDate SoldSold ToOther
61835not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
61839not seen but reported in RR service on the CB&Q in 1889/90
62806
62821
62836
62837
62861
62871
62879
Example of a grade no. 53 (s/n 62879):

Dial on s/n 62879 showing the USJG monogram (note: the name of the owner was, at some point after it left the factory, hand painted onto the dial):


Besides the above 12 grades found in the factory records, all of which are stem winders, there are a few unusual Guild movements. One of these is a key-winder (but otherwise thought to have the standard movement markings) and the other is a stem-winder that has a different style of USJGuild engraving on the barrel bridge.

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