The Dueber Watch Case Manufacturing Co. started in Cincinnati, OH in the 1860s, moving to Newport, KY in the 1874. In 1889 it moved to Canton, OH, right next to its sister firm, the Hampden Watch Co.. The two were frequently referred to in its ads as Dueber-Hampden. The company's existence ended in 1930.
Dueber Watch Case Manufacturing Co.: A Thumbnail DescriptionThe history of the Dueber Watch Case Manufacturing Co is told in From Springfield To Moscow: The Complete Dueber-Hampden Story. Briefly, John C. Dueber established a watch case company in Cincinnati, OH in the 1860s, in association with Mr. Francis Doll, who left within a year. Manufacturing was moved to Newport, KY (across the Ohio river from Cincinatti) in the 1874 while the offices remained in Cincinnati for several years. In the 1886, to protect his business from the actions of the developing Watch Trust, Dueber purchased a controlling interest in the Hampden Watch Co. of Springfield, MA. During 1888-1889, both operations were moved to a dual, attached set of factory buildings in Canton, OH, the case company starting operations in 1889, a year after the movement company, although it was advertised to be in Canton in 1888. The Dueber Watch Case Manufacturing Co. was a separate company from the Hampden Watch Co., although the ads used the Dueber-Hampden name. That name was (and still is) in common usage. They stayed separate until about 1925 when the companies were legally merged.
Hampden movements were frequently offered factory fitted into Dueber cases. One example is seen in a 1903 ad in which Hampden's new Wm. McKinley grade movement was only offered as a factory-cased watch. Hampden 400-series movements were offered as Dueber-cased watches in a February 1908 ad. The following month, a March 1908 Ad offered a factory-cased, 12-size John Hancock watch.
The companies continued in business, producing both watches and cases until falling sales in the mid-1920's led to receivership in 1927. The manufacturing equipment, parts on hand and work in progress were sold to Russia. Operations ceased in 1930 when the machinery was shipped to Russia. It is believed that all factory records either went with the equipment, or were destroyed, and there are no surviving records from which to match serial numbers of watches, or cases, against models and grades.
Dating Dueber CasesSurviving Dueber records relating case serial numbers to dates, if they ever existed, have not yet (as of this writing in February, 2018) come to light. An effort has been made to correlate case serial numbers to dates, based upon the seial numbers of the movements seemingly origianally housed by Dueber cases. The efforts can be viewed in this Message Board thread on the subject, started in September, 2012.
"14K" Marked CasesThere are a number of instances wherein Dueber (and other companies') cases are marked 14K but are not solid, 14K gold. In these instances, the case is Gold-Filled (inner and outer layers of gold bonded to a thicker, center layer of composition metal, such as brass). One has to observe and understand the trade marks stamped into the case to determine from what metal the case is actually made. The lack of a trade mark usually means that it isn't solid gold. Some Dueber case trade marks (but certainly not all) are shown in a 1904 Ad. These are not engraved, but stamped into the case such that the areas shown in black in the illustration are depressed into the metal, while whatever is shown in white is raised within the black borders.
Case Grade Case Material "18K" below "Dueber" both over Anchor-in-Shield (Trade Mark) May be raised (as posted by Douglas Romero) within stamping or incised: 18K Solid gold "14K" below "Dueber" both over Anchor-in-Shield (Trade Mark) May be raised within stamping or incised (as posted by A.F.W.): 14K Solid gold "Dueber" raised within stamping over Anchor-in-Shield (Trade Mark) 10K Solid gold "Special" Anchor-in-Shield (Trade Mark) 14K Gold-Filled, guaranteed for 25 years Champion 14K Gold-Filled, guaranteed for 20 years, despite its simply being marked "14 K" Anchor and Serpent (Trade Mark) Dueber 14K Gold-Filled "Warranted" - in a Banner (courtesy GSantoliquido) Gold-Filled, guaranteed for the number of years marked Gladiator (Trade Mark) 10K Gold-Filled, guaranteed for 20 years if so marked, 10 years if not marked, introduced in March 1886 Anchor and Serpent (Trade Mark) Newport 10K Gold-Filled Star on a pennant (Trade Mark) (Blowing to right from a flagpole) - Documentation that this is a Dueber trade mark has yet to be seen. "Sterling" 925-in-Shield, raised within stamping (Trade Mark) Sterling Silver w/ Silver Cap, Gold Joints & Crown "Coin" Anchor-in-Shield, raised within stamping (Trade Mark) Coin Silver w/ Silver Cap, Gold Joints & Crown Dueber Coin, raised within stamping Coin Silver w/ Silver Cap & Gold Joints Newport Coin, raised within stamping Coin Silver w/ Albata Cap & Gold Joints Railway "Coin Silver" Railway Silverine (Nickel, introduced in 1890) Silverine (posted by watchme78 - scroll down to case paper) Nickel Hinged Back & Bezel Display Case Silverine (Nickel)
See the Case Material Encyclopedia article for an explanation of the terms.
Other case grades and trade marks are illustrated and described in the NAWCC Message Board thread "Dueber solid or gold filled case?."
Gladiator Grade Case
The book History of the American Watch Case, contains the registered trade mark application and Gladiator illustration on pages 78 and 79. The trade mark was applied for on June 4, 1887 and registered on July 19, 1887. It states, in part that, the Dueber Watch Case Mfg Co. "... has adopted for its use a Trade-Mark for Rolled Gold-Plate Watch Cases, of which the following is a full, clear, and exact description. Said trade-mark consists, essentially, of the figure of a naked gladiator holding a raised shield with his left hand to protect his head, while his right hand grasps a broadsword wherewith to attack his adversary, ... The words shown, "We Defy Competition" and "What is worth doing is worth doing well," are non-essential. This figure of a gladiator is stamped on the inside of the backs of watch cases, and has been so used ... since the 28th day of March, 1886. The class of merchandise to which said trade-mark is appropriated is watch-cases, and the particular description of goods comprised in such class on which it is used by said company is rolled-gold-plate watch-cases, or, as they are more commonly called, "filled cases." The trade mark figure can be seen in this December 1891 Ad for Dueber-Hampden's new line of 17-jewel standard watches. Insofar as the trade-mark has appeared on cases marked "20 Years," it raises the question of what was meant by the term "rolled-gold-plate" in the late 1880s. Based upon a much earlier discussion on the NAWCC Pocket Watch Message Board (now lost in the depths of time as the Message Board evolved), many had come to believe that the gold layer of a "rolled-gold-plate" case was significantly thinner than that applied to cases said to be "gold-filled." See the Case Material Encyclopedia article.
The following books and back issues of the NAWCC Bulletin are available to members on loan by mail from the NAWCC Lending Library, using the Lending Library Form. Also, NAWCC Bulletin supplements and articles are available online to NAWCC members who are currently logged in.
History of the American Watch Case, Warren H. Niebling, Whitmore Publishing, Philadelphia, PA, 1971
The Dueber-Hampden Story, James W. Gibbs, Philadelphia, PA, 1954 NAWCC Bulletin Supplement.
From Springfield To Moscow: The Complete Dueber-Hampden Story, (Revised and enlarged successor to the 1954 Supplement to the NAWCC Bulletin) James W. Gibbs, Philadelphia, PA, 1986.
"A Pictorial View of American Watchcase Factories," Andrew H. Dervan, NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin No. 396, March/April 2012, pp. 180-181.
A number of Dueber's trade marks (but not all) may be seen on page 115 of the book Trade Marks Of The Jewelry And Kindred Trades, Second Edition, Jewelers' Circular Publishing Co., NY, 1904 (found online by Askbart).
Some case grades and trade marks are illustrated and described in the NAWCC Message Board thread "Dueber solid or gold filled case?."
Links to articles about John C. Dueber and the case company can be accessed in Bill Kapp's NAWCC Message Board thread entitled "Dueber/Hampden link."
Dueber silver and Silverine cases are listed on pages 21 & 22 of the 1886 H. Muhr's Sons catalog.
Categories: Category Watch case makers