The Brooklyn Watch Case Co. was in business the last quarter of the nineteenth century and a good part of the first quarter of the twentieth century. The firm made solid gold cases in a number of grades of quality and, for a short time, gold-filled cases.
Brooklyn Watch Case Co.: A Thumbnail DescriptionThe Brooklyn Watch Case Co. (BWCCo.) is discussed in the book, History of the American Watch Case, Warren H. Niebling, Whitmore Publishing, Philadelphia, PA, 1971 (available on loan by mail to members from the NAWCC Lending Library). Information on the company has also appeared in an article entitled "The Story of Hayden W. Wheeler," by Howard Lasser, NAWCC Bulletin, October 2005, 549-550. Notes based upon this article will appear in brown. Mr. Niebling describes the firm as starting in New York City in 1865 and moving to Brooklyn (at that time, a separate city, one of the country's largest) in 1866. Hayden W. Wheeler formed the Brooklyn Watch Case Co. on March 10, 1873 to devise methods for the mass production of watch cases. Joseph Fahys was one of the original directors of the company. The company started out by making gold and silver cases, but production of the silver cases eventually ceased. 18-karat and 14-karat cases were made in some quantity prior to the firm moving to Warren St, near Fourth Ave. in Brooklyn. Brooklyn made gold-filled cases, and 14-karat solid gold cases, but is perhaps best known for its line of Eagle solid 8K gold cases. However, Brooklyn offered a Variety of Grades, detailed below. Sometime in the late 1890s or early 1900s, Brooklyn was bought out by Joseph Fahys & Co., a major watch case company who had been listed in Brooklyn ads since 1896 as their selling agent. Joseph Fahys acquired Brooklyn prior to Wheeler's retirement in 1891, by which time the firm was producing 75,000 cases per year. An October 1898 Fahys ad proclaimed Fahys the successor to Brooklyn, owning all of Brooklyn's trade marks. Fahys thus continued to use the Brooklyn name and trade marks.
Actual Gold ContentA pair Brooklyn ads from 1909 give a glimpse into jewelry industry practices at the time. In a January 1909 Ad, Brooklyn proclaimed itself the industry leader on account of U.S. government assays showing that Brooklyn used purer gold than its competitors in its 14 kt gold cases, even though all exceeded the requirements of the government's recently enacted stamping law. The fact that none of the case manufacturers' 14 kt gold cases actually assayed at 14.00 fineness or better didn't seem to bother the advertising department who proudly showed it to be 13.92. Perhaps there was some negative comment at the time because an October 1909 Brooklyn Ad showed that five out of ten case manufacturers' cases assaying at 14.00 or better, with Brooklyn still in the lead at 14.29.
Brooklyn: A Victim Of FraudIn 1898, a news item appeared in the trade press that may explain what appears to be misleadingly marked, or even fraudulently marked, surviving Brooklyn cases. At that time, somebody was stamping Brooklyn trade marks which indicated solid gold cases on cheap, brass cases and upon Brooklyn gold-filled cases. Brooklyn was forced to place ads warning that such cases existed and that the person(s) behind the scheme would be prosecuted. Nevertheless, cases bearing spurious Brooklyn Eagle trade marks were still showing up a full year later.
Brooklyn Case Designs
Some Brooklyn case designs may be seen in the following ads:
March 3, 1897 8 0-size designs.
April, 1897 3 designs.
May 5, 1897 14 designs.
June 2, 1897 6 designs.
July 14, 1897 4 designs.
June 29, 1898 12 designs.
Brooklyn case designs may also be seen on pages 318, 319, 320, 321, 322 and 325 of the 1897 Lapp & Flershem Twenty-first Annual Illustrated Catalogue.
Brooklyn Case Grades
Case Grade Case Material 18K 18K Solid Gold 14K 14K Solid Gold Wheat (Sheaf of Wheat Trade Mark) Double Stock - 14K Outer Layer, 8K Inner Layer, Discontinued in 1893. Granger
(Stag Trade Mark)
Double Stock - 14K Outer Layer, 8K Inner Layer, possibly introduced in 1889. Eagle
(Eagle Trade Mark)
8K Solid Gold, first appeared in 1877, discontinued in mid-to-late 1890s. A1 Eagle
(Eagle Trade Mark)
8K Solid Gold, introduced in 1898. Bristol 14K Gold-Filled case, guaranteed for 25 Years. Introduced around 1905, production taken over by Fahys in about 1907 (dates approximate). Windsor Gold-Filled case, guaranteed for 20 Years. Introduced around 1902 and seemingly phased out around 1907. (dates approximate). Orient Gold-Filled case, guaranteed for 10 Years. Introduced around 1902 and seemingly phased out around 1907. (dates estimated). Monitor - USS Monitor Trade Mark Quality not known at this time. Æ Gold-Filled case (per Fred Hansen - post #25).
See Case Material for an explanation of the terms. Also, a number of Brooklyn's trade marks (but not all) may be seen on page 112 of the book Trade Marks Of The Jewelry And Kindred Trades, Second Edition, Jewelers' Circular Publishing Co., NY, 1904.
It seems that the Brooklyn Bristol and Windsor cases were short-lived and the gold-filled line was phased out by 1907. A February 1907 Fahys Ad shows and describes the Bristol case, although the cuts still bear the "Brooklyn Bristol" name. An early June 1907 Fahys ad of the same year for the Bristol case showed cuts of cases carrying the "Fahys Bristol" name. The Windsor case name appears to have faded away around that time as Fahys promoted the Permanent case, the Bristol 25-year case and the Montauk 20-year case.
Categories: Category Watch case makers