Abstract:: The watchmaking arm of the E. Howard Watch & Clock Company, which signed its watches "E. Howard & Co.," produced approximately 108,000 watch movements by unique methods between 1858 and 1903. The firm's watches were prestigious and expensive, and were known for high quality standards and technical innovation (especially pre-1875). Modern collectors value them for their history, scarcity, quality, and novelty.
Edward Howard was a successful clockmaker who became a central figure in the birth of the American watchmaking industry in the 1850's [1,2]. After several reorganizations and name changes [1, p.124; and 2, p. 40], the enterprise he founded in collaboration with Aaron L. Dennison and various financial backers became the Boston Watch Company. Despite its bankruptcy and subsequent sale in 1857, this company's Model "1857" full plate watch design would go on to become the world's first financially successful watch to be manufactured in quantity by truly efficient mass production methods.
Two enterprises claimed succession to the Boston Watch Company (BWCo.): the firm which became (after two name changes ) the American Watch Company of Waltham, MA; and E. Howard & Company of Roxbury (now part of Boston). In Roxbury, Howard finished 500 modified Model 1857 movements primarily from BWCo. parts and signed most of these "Howard & Rice."  Thereafter, Howard's new watchmaking firm signed its watches "E. Howard & Co.," though the actual company name changed several times. [1, p.128] Regular watchmaking operations began at E. Howard & Company in 1858 [3,8] and continued until 1903 . Between these dates, the Howard firm produced approximately 108,000 watch movements  by unique methods described in , blending automated machine operations and large investments of skilled, traditional labor. (After 1903, a handful of movements were finished from existing parts and sold as late as the 1920's'! [3, in the section added by Gerit Nijssen, which accompanies the P.L. Small manuscript])
Edward Howard's restrained embrace of modern manufacturing methods combined with perfectionist ideals and a penchant for experimentation to produce distinctive watches . The company targeted the luxury market almost exclusively, and its products were prestigious as well as expensive. Consistent with his market and his methods, Howard's production volume was always quite modest compared with his larger competitors. In 1882 Edward Howard retired from management of the company . By the turn of the new century, the company's eccentric production methods were no longer financially viable and its always tenuous market niche finally had collapsed. In 1903, the original Howard firm, which thereafter continued to manufacture clocks, sold the rights to the use of the Howard name on watches to the Keystone Watch Case Company [1, p.129]. Keystone purchased the factory building of the defunct United States Watch Company of Waltham, MA and there manufactured watches of their own updated designs, signed, "E. Howard Watch Company." [ibid.]
Howard was the first American watch manufacturer to introduce quick beat trains (i.e., 18,000 beats per hour, instead of 16,200) [4,5], adjustment to all six physical positions , damaskeened watch plates , and pallet bridge banking . Howard's Model 1869 L Size (a.k.a., "Series V" - see below) watches were also the first stemwind and pendent set American watches to be made in quantity . Early Howard watches featured innovative safety barrel and regulator designs, and many had quite elegant finish. The firm experimented famously with early appearances of Breguet overcoil and helical hairspring configurations and escapement variations, including several, such as Cole's resilient banking escapement , with innovative banking methods. At the same time, the company's jewelling and predominant springing practices were archly conservative, as was their heavy reliance on traditional craft methods. Between approximately 1884 and 1893 or 1894, Howard's dial room foreman, Josiah Moorhouse, painted and often signed a number of exquisite dials appearing on some Howard watches of the period. Most of these dials, whether with or without a written signature, bear Moorhouse's equally unique artistic signature described in .
Howard Movement Naming Conventions:
The Howard firm rarely applied model designations to its watch movements, leaving it to collectors and horologists to develop their own naming conventions for Howard watch movements after the fact. The oldest, most familiar, and widely used naming convention for Howard watch movements is the "Series" scheme invented by Percy Livingston Small  and later popularized by Hacket , Townsend  and others. Small's scheme divides Howard watch production into twelve series based on contiguous serial number blocks. The scheme strives, but does not always succeed in keeping movements with different combinations of size (i.e., diameter) and plate layout in separate series. More recently, Geller  has developed a naming convention employing both information from surviving Howard watch movements and that from the factory records, the majority of which became available for study in 2001. The new scheme eliminates various ambiguities and issues with the series scheme and supplies introduction dates as part of the naming convention, making it a potentially better tool for research and for communication among collectors. However, since the newer scheme is less familiar to most collectors at this time, corresponding model names from both schemes are cross-referenced in several places in this article in order to minimize confusion. A complete list of model name correspondences between the two schemes also is provided in Table 1.
Standard Howard Production Models:
The Howard company's standard watch products are summarized in Table 1, in which movement types are referenced both to the series designation scheme of  and the newer scheme introduced in . However, apart from these standard products, the Howard company is also noted for a wide variety of oddball and/or experimental products that fit no regular classification scheme, and even the "standard" products exhibit great variation within individual "Series" . Examples of all standard types from the Model 1858 (all varieties) through the Model 1884 (a.k.a. "Series VIII"), as well as several non-standard, experimental movements are shown and discussed at: https://mcintyre.com/present/Boston Seminar Exhibit.pdf
Howard watches were sized according to Howard's own letter system, described in the next section. Their unique movement sizes, together with both the fact that the Howard firm never manufactured its own cases and the low survival rate of gold cases generally, have combined to make the identification of correctly cased Howard watches important to collectors . Howard's original keywind design, the Model 1858 Types A through E, and Type O [4,10] (a.k.a. Series I and II [3,7,8]), has its origins in Reed's 1854 safety barrel patent (subsequently reissued in 1857) and the "Dennison, Howard & Davis" S# 5,000 prototype movement [4,10]. (Note that Reed's patent really describes a main wheel rather than a barrel, but it is customary to speak of Reed's invention as a form of patented barrel.) The Howard Model 1858 design famously employed separate mainspring barrel and train plates, most often (but not always) graced by lenticular cut-outs. Three quarter plates were introduced in the Model 1862-K (K Size), 1863 (I Size), and the Model 1862-N (N Size) movements. The Howard firm remained with 3/4 plates until a "split plate" design was introduced in 1894 and 1895. (Unlike the 1858 divided plate keywind design, which carried all the train wheels on one plate separate from the main barrel, the 1894/95 stemwind "split plate" design carried the center wheel on the barrel plate.) Split plate models were manufactured in L and N Size, and in both open face and hunting configurations.
Gold flashed damaskeened finish , and nickel plated damaskeened finish both were introduced on the Model 1862-N. Solid nickel plates and pendant (or stem) winding and setting debuted in the Model 1869. Howard's new steel safety barrel, which was actually a barrel, also was introduced on the Models 1869 L Size and 1871 N Size. In 1874, Howard introduced a new G Size ladies model (his first ladies model being the Model 1863-I Size keywind, of which only 100 were made). All his G Size watches, except for those in the first hundred lot (not all of which were made), were stem wound and lever set. The transition from key to stem winding was completed in Models 1869 through 1874 (a.k.a. Series V, IV, and VI), and solid nickel plates (which were always damaskeened) were introduced in these models. In the 1890's the Howard firm introduced Breguet overcoil hairsprings into its regular production line, as well as center hole jewels, which raised the total movement jewel count from 15 to 17. This was the same period in which the Howard firm's only known private label movements were manufactured , 190 open face and 22 hunting case movements for Webb C. Ball of Cleveland, Ohio. These were all 17 jewel, 3/4 plate movements with overcoil hairsprings, and all were marked "Adjusted" whether or not they actually left the factory that way. (The marking, "Adjusted," on a Howard movement usually signifies a watch that had been fully adjusted to HCI6P at the factory. See below.)
Table 1. Standard Howard Movement Models
|Introduction Year||Series||Size||First S#||Last S#||Key Features||Comment|
|1857||18||6,001||6,482 ||16 jewels, KW from back, KS from front; Full plate; ratchet tooth escape wheels with upright pallets; Most signed "Howard & Rice," and many also signed "Boston Watch Co." with mostly unsigned dials. A few very late examples signed "E. Howard & Co." on movement and dial.||Waltham Model 1857  material finished in Roxbury with Howard modifications, circa 1857-58; 16'th jewel on pillar plate side of center wheel.|
|1858 [4, 10]||I||N||111*||1,800||KW/KS fr. rear; Divided plates on 6 pillars; Reed's barrel; Balance over center wheel (BO); Exposed stopworks; Some with upright pallets; Many with unusual features; All Howard models from here on had stopworks, and were "quick beat" (18,000 bph); Mershon's compound regulator introduced. Taking S# 1,800 as the likely division point between Types B and D, total production of M1858 Types A, B, C & O was approximately 1,570 .||All KW/KS models (except the "Howard & Rice" Model 1857) are wound and set from the rear; Types A and B with 5 and 3 lenticular cut-outs; 15 jewels were standard on all models except split plates and Ball Howards; First Run with 17 jewels in SDJS, unusual plate cuts and engraved pallet bridges; a few of this model near S# one-eighty-five had only 7 jewels.|
*: S#'s 111 and 129 are signed "Howard & Rice, Boston Watch Co." The lowest numbered known Model 1858 movement signed "E. Howard & Co.," which is Type C with no lenticular cutouts, is S# 123.
|1859-60, Types D & E [4, 10]||II||N||1,801||3,000||KW/KS; Divided plates on 6 pillars; Rectangular cut-out between plates. Total production of M1858 Types D & E was approximately 1,180.||Type D with cut-back barrel plate; 1'st single banking pin (SBP) escapements  appear among this model.|
|1862-K||K||3,001||3,106(a)||KW/KS; Reed's barrel; Straight regulator; SBP escapements; cut-outs in top plate for case screws. Perhaps a few more than 100 K size movements were produced.||1'st model w. balance under center wheel (BU); All 3/4 plate from this model til Model 1893; 1'st 3/4 plate regular production model|
|1862-N||III||N||3,301(i), & 3,501||3,400, & 26,600 (b); 27,580||KW/KS; Last Reed's barrel model; Escapement variations: SBP, standard lever, Cole's (scarce) , upright pallets (rare); Regulators: straight, Mershon's (on some, early), or Reed's (on some, late); Balances: solid steel (SSB), solid gold (SGB), or compensated bimetallic; Finishes: gilt; gold-flashed dmk (rare); and nickel plated dmk (rare). Last model with Mershon's reg.||Adjustment markings became standard and dust rings were introduced during this model's production; Transitions occurred in this model from: balance over, to under center; blunt, to toe-ended, to club-footed escape wheel teeth; stepped to straight balance cocks; case screws on pillar plate to c.s. on cock, to c.s. on top plate|
|1863||I||3,401||3,500(c)||KW/KS; Balances: SGB or comp, both BU; Mostly SBP escapements; Figure-8 cut-out in top plate above escapement; All models are 3/4 plate from this model til the Model 1893. Between 100 and 102 I Size movements were produced.||First Howard watch model for ladies. Unique plate and escapement variations are known.|
|1869||V||L||50,001||70,381(d), 150,002||KW/KS, SW/PS, KW-SW transitional (rare), or SW/LS (rare); All models w. Howard's patent steel barrel from this model on; gilt, or nickel DMK; Simple or Reed's reg.s; Standard, Cole's (early and rare), or pallet bridge banking (later) escapements; All comp BU from this model on||SW movements were hunting case (HC) configurations; Earlier movements with threaded leg, patent-marked dials; Rare SW/LS "Prescott" and "Eustis" models|
|1871||IV||N||30,001||49,999||KW/KS (early), or SW/PS (HC config); Similar to Model 1869 ("Series V"), but N Size||Nickel KW/KS are rare; Earlier movements with threaded leg, patent-marked dials|
|1874||VI||G||100,001||105,200(e)||KW/KS (< 100 made, gilt only), or SW/LS (gilt or nickel, HC config); Straight or Reed's reg.s||Adjustment markings are known, but rare|
|1883||VII||N||200,001||226,800||3/4 plate; Continuation of the Model 1871 ("Series IV"); All M1883 are SW/PS (HC config)||In addition to late examples of earlier models still in production in 1883 (e.g., M1869 and M1871), all models from M1883 on employ pallet bridge banking. All models from 1883 on are also SW/PS.|
|1884||VIII||N||300,001||308,600||3/4 plate; SW/PS Open Face (OF) configuration||See M1883 comments above|
|1890||IX||N||400,001||405,000||3/4 plate; SW/PS; Hunting case configuration; Gilt Finish only; "Hound" grades only (adjusted to isochronism, but neither temperature or positions)||The Model 1890 was intended as a less expensive product|
|1891||X||J||500,001||501,400||3/4 plate; SW/PS; Open face configuration; Nickel finish, screwed down gold jewel settings, and Reed-style micrometer regulators were used exclusively from the M1891 onward.|
|1893-HC||VII Ball Model, private label||N||226,201||226,222||3/4 plate; Hunting case; 17 jewels; Breguet overcoil hairspring; Special hands; "B of LE" and "ORC" varieties (signed on dial and movement), each with their own distinctive damaskeening; All are marked "Adjusted"||Rare - 22 made; Ball-marked cases (with belt buckle trademark) preferred|
|1893-OF||VIII Ball Model, private label||N||307,401, & 308,600||307,500, & 308,451 (f)||3/4 plate; Open Face; 17 jewels; Breguet overcoil hairspring; Special hands; "B of LE" and "ORC" varieties (signed on dial and movement), each with their own distinctive damaskeening; All are marked "Adjusted"||Rare - 190 made (120 B of LE, and 70 ORC); Ball-marked cases (with belt buckle trademark) preferred; signed "J. Moorhouse" Ball Howard private label dials are known|
|1895-N-HC[SUP]h[/SUP]||VII split plate||N||228,001||230,100||Hunting case; 3/4 plate; 17 jewels; Breguet overcoil hairspring; All are marked "Adjusted"||All split plate models, and only split plate models have double sunk dials standard, and only split plate models feature Learned's patent threaded cannon pinion and split center arbor. One 21 jewel example of this model is known.|
|1895-N-OF[SUP]h[/SUP]||VIII split plate||N||309,001||310,000 (g)||Open face; 3/4 plate; 17 jewels; Breguet overcoil hairspring; All are marked "Adjusted"||See M1894 comments above|
|1895-L-HC[SUP]h[/SUP]||XI split plate||L (16)||600,001||601,150||Hunting case; 3/4 plate; 17 jewels (standard); Breguet overcoil hairspring; All are marked "Adjusted"||See M1895 comments above. This model is actually 16 Size, rather than L, and has an integral, vestigial dust ring (i.e., a balance guard which is screwed to the dial plate); 21 jewel examples are known in this model|
|1895-L-OF[SUP]h[/SUP]||XII split plate||L (16)||700,001||701,330||Open face; 3/4 plate; 17 jewels (standard); Breguet overcoil hairspring; All are marked "Adjusted"||See M1894 comments above. This model is actually 16 Size, rather than L, and has an integral, vestigial dust ring (i.e., a balance guard which is screwed to the dial plate); 21 jewel examples are known in this model|
Table 1 Notes:
a: There are no factory records available prior to S# 3,301. 3,106 is the highest confirmed K Size S#, the next highest confirmed number being 3,090.
b: Produced in two S# blocks, one short and one long. Beginning and ending S#'s are provided for both. Regular M1862-N batch lot production ended at S# 26,600
c: Factory records list I Size movements at S#'s 3,801 and 3,802, but this may be an error.
d: Regular M1869 lot production ended at S# 70,300. S# 70,381 was finished in 1907, as mentioned in . S# 150,002 (pictured in  and ) is signed "Eustis," finished circa 1879-81 . Only one is known, and this S# is not mentioned in the factory records. It is SW/LS, gilt finish with exposed winding wheels and a conventional going barrel, and has a unique 3-point compression spring safety pinion on the 3rd wheel, pictured in .
e: Factory records list S# 105,200 as L Size; S# 105,990, a G Size movement, also was recorded by G. Townsend; Per Reference II-11 of , total production of the Model 1874 G Size was only approximately 4,650, not 5,200.
f: Produced in two S# blocks. Additional details are provided in Table 2 of 
g: Total N Size OF split plate production was only approximately 850 movements, not 1,000
h: An 1895 factory advertisement refers to all split plate models as the "Model 1895." However, the factory production records indicate the first N Size hunting case split plate movements were finished in 1894.
i: Model 1862N SN 3,162 is also known, but it apears to have been completed slightly later than SN 3,301. The other few movements known from the 3,101 to 3,200 SN range are all experimentals with different escapement variations and plate layouts.
Table 1 Legend:
SSB: solid steel balance
SGB: solid gold balance
comp: compensated, bimetallic balance
c.s.: case screws
SBP: single banking pin escapement
SDJS: screwed down jewel settings
BO: balance pivoted in a plane above the center wheel
BU: balance pivoted below the center wheel
KW/KS: key wind and key set
SW/PS: stem wind and pendant set
SW/LS: stem wind and lever set
"3/4 plate": train wheels and main wheel all carried on one plate, but with separate pallet bridge and with balance cock adjacent to, rather than above train plate.
Howard Watch Grades & Adjustment Levels:
No formal grade designations for Howard watches were in use by the company prior to 1884. For a discussion of Howard quality levels in production prior to this date, based on factory record data and surviving movement data, see [4, and especially Table II-13a on page 86]. A system of seven numerical grades, described in Table 2 below, was introduced in 1884 and expanded to cover all subsequent production in July of 1885 . The 1884 system was based on the type of plate finish (gilded brass, or gilt or nickel damaskeened); the type of regulator (simple, or "patent" [i.e., Reed's whip]); whether the top plate train jewels were in screwed down settings; and the level of adjustment (isochronism only; isochronism and temperature ["Heat & Cold"]; or isochronism, temperature and positions [all six]). Prior to 1884 other factors affected movement price as well, such as the type of balance wheel (SSB, SGB, or compensated bimetallic), and the method of winding and setting (key versus stem). These factors are covered by the Universal Grade Code defined in , and summarized in the legend of Table 2, below. In the 1890's, the numerical grading system was extended to ten values from seven, in order to encompass products with various combinations of split plates, center hole jewels and overcoil hairsprings. The Ball Howard private label production, all of which was marked "Adjusted," is consistent with Grade 9, but is not listed as such in the factory records, suggesting that Ball purchased these movements in only partly adjusted condition and then completed the positional adjusting in his own shop .
The level of adjustment affected the prices of Howard movements more than any other single variable [4, Tables II-12 and II-15, and Figure 64; and also 8]. All Howard watch movements were adjusted at least to isochronism. (Isochronism is the quality of rate independent of winding state). Apart from a short run of experimental movements at S# 3,201 [4,14], Howard otherwise began marking the level of adjustment on his watches at, or shortly before S# 10,964. Thereafter, movements adjusted only to isochronism carried either no marking at all, or a hound symbol (after 1885). Movements adjusted to both isochronism and temperature ("HCI") were marked "Heat & Cold" and/or carried a horse symbol (after 1885), and movements fully adjusted to temperature, isochronism and positions [all 6] ("HCI6P") were marked "Adjusted" and (after 1885) carried a deer (stag) symbol.
Table 2. Post-1884 Howard Movement Grades, with Corresponding Universal Grade Code Designations
|Post 1884 Grade||#||Plates||Finish||Wind/Set*||Jewels||Regulator||Hairspring||Adjustments|
|2||6-3R-1||3/4||Gilt||SW/PS||15 in RGSDJS||Reed's||Volute||I|
|3||6-3R-2||3/4||Gilt||SW/PS||15 in RGSDJS||Reed's||Volute||HCI|
|4||8-3R-1||3/4||Nickel||SW/PS||15 in RGSDJS||Reed's||Volute||I|
|5||8-3R-2||3/4||Nickel||SW/PS||15 in RGSDJS||Reed's||Volute||HCI|
|6||6-3R-3||3/4||Gilt||SW/PS||15 in RGSDJS||Reed's||Volute||HCI6P|
|7||8-3R-3||3/4||Nickel||SW/PS||15 in RGSDJS||Reed's||Volute||HCI6P|
|8||10-3R-2||split**||Nickel||SW/PS||17 in RGSDJS||Reed's||Breguet||HCI|
|9||9-3R-3||3/4||Nickel||SW/PS||17 in RGSDJS||Reed's||Breguet||HCI6P|
|10||10-3R-3||split**||Nickel||SW/PS||17 in RGSDJS||Reed's||Breguet||HCI6P|
*All Howard production models were either KW/KS from rear, or SW/PS, except for the Model 1874 G Size (a.k.a. "Series VI") and the rare Model 1869 L Size "Prescott" variety, SW examples of which were lever set. Rare experimental movements such as S# 50,005 (a nickel plated brass L Size Howard movement with exposed wolf's tooth winding wheels), and S# 150,002 (signed "Eustis," instead of "E. Howard & Co.", and having an unique safety clutch on the third wheel) were also factory lever set. Originally key wound and set Model 1869 and 1871 Howard watches with Abbott's stemwinding attachment are relatively common.
** Split plate models had double sunk dials standard; All other models had single sunk dials standard, but are occasionally found with double sunk dials.
Table 2 Legend:
Wind/Set: KW/KS = key wind and set (fr. rear); SW/PS = stem wind & pendant set
Jewels: burnished = train jewels are burnished directly into the plates; RGSDJS = raised gold, screwed down jewel settings
Regulators: Reed's = Reed's patent micrometer ("whip") regulator
Hairsprings: Volute = planar, spiral; Breguet = overcoil ("involute")
Adjustments: I = isochronism only (hound symbol); HCI = heat, cold and isochronism (horse symbol); HCI6P = heat, cold, isochronism and 6 physical positions (stag symbol)
Universal Grade Code  (covering all early Howard production, pre- and post 1884): N1-N2-N3
= 0: Solid Steel Balance, Keywind, Gilded Finish (may not have been made in Model 1862)
= 1: Solid Gold Balance, Keywind, Gilded Finish
= 2: Chronometer Balance, Keywind, Gilded Finish
= 3: Chronometer Balance, Keywind, Rayed Gilded Finish
= 4: Chronometer Balance, Keywind, Rayed Nickel-Plated Brass Finish
= 5: Chronometer Balance, Keywind, Rayed Solid Nickel Finish
= 6: Chronometer Balance, Stemwind, Gilded Finish
= 7: Chronometer Balance, Stemwind, Nickel-Plated Brass Finish
= 8: Chronometer Balance, Stemwind, Solid Nickel Finish
= 9: "Ball" Model watches, with 17 jewels, Breguet hairsprings, and ¾ plates.
=10: split plates, 17 jewels, and Breguet hairsprings.
= 0: No Jewel Settings, Simple Regulator
= 1: No Jewel Settings, Patent Regulator
= 2: Jewel Settings, Simple Regulator
= 3: Jewel Settings, Patent Regulator
= 1R: No Jewel Settings, Reed's Patent Regulator
= 3R: Jewel Settings, Reed's Patent Regulator
= 1: Adjusted to Isochronism only
= 2: Adjusted to Isochronism and Temperature (i.e., heat and cold)
= 3: Adjusted to Isochronism, Temperature, & Six Positions
Howard Movement Sizes:
The Howard Company employed a watch movement sizing system of Howard's own invention, based on pillar plate (a.k.a. "dial plate") diameters. Size "A" was one inch in diameter, and subsequent letters incremented this value by one sixteenth of an inch per letter. Thus a Howard "N" Size movement has a pillar plate diameter of one and thirteen sixteenths of an inch. This may be compared to a standard Lancashire Gauge "18" Size movement, which has a pillar plate diameter of one and twenty four thirtieths of an inch, slightly smaller than the N Size. (A Lancashire Gauge Size "0" has a pillar plate diameter of one and five thirtieths of an inch, increasing by thirtieth inches with increasing integers, except that beginning at Size 18, American watch manufacturers added an extra thirtieth of inch to the dial plate diameter.) The rough correspondences between the two sizing systems are provided in Table 3 below. Collectors should note, however, that only for the rare Howard I Size (total production of 100) do the two systems coincide exactly. These small size differences are important to collectors because they are one of the factors which make original cases for early Howard watches unique. (Note: Actual Howard movement dial plate diameters often varied from their nominal values. Howard movement thicknesses varied even more frequently, limiting case interchangeability.)
Table 3. Approximate Correspondences Between E. Howard & Co. and Lancashire Gauge Movement Sizes
|Howard Size||Modified US Lancashire Gauge Size||Corresponding Models||Corresponding Series|
|N||18||1857*, 1858, 1862-N, 1871, 1883, 1884, 1890, 1893-HC, 1893-OF, 1894, 1895-N||M57 H&R*, I-II, III, IV, VII 3/4, VIII 3/4, IX, Ball-VII, Ball-VIII, VII s.p., VIII s.p.|
|L||16||1869, 1895-L-HC, 1895-L-OF||V, XI s.p., XII s.p.|
* 18 size material inherited from the Boston Watch Co. that was finished in Roxbury and mostly signed "Howard & Rice."
** I/10 is the only, nominally exact correspondence between the two sizing systems
Important Note: All E. Howard & Co. movements left the factory uncased.
E. Howard & Co. Watch Records
In seeking information about a watch, it is the serial number on the movement (the "works") that is most important. (E. Howard & Co. never manufactured watch cases.) Serial number data for most E. Howard & Co. movements are available at the Smithsonian American History Archive Center in Washington, D.C. by inquiry or appointment. The surviving original E. Howard factory production records (less two missing volumes - the first and the third) were donated to the Smithsonian Institution by the late Dana Blackwell. Mr. Blackwell had been an employee of the E. Howard Clock Co., which had inherited the watch production records from the E. Howard Clock and Watch Co. Chapter 174 researchers Clint Geller and Harold Visser also are in possession of photocopies of these records. The lowest Howard movement serial number for which the factory records are known to have survived is 3,301. The ledger tells us that this movement had a "chronometer" (i.e., a temperature compensated, split bimetallic) balance; it was adjusted to HCI6P (see above); and it was sold or consigned to Albert Howard, Edwards' nephew, who was the company's principal sales agent .
Collectors should note that these records were not compiled with collectors or historians in mind, but rather as a tool to assist the Howard company management with monitoring and control of sales, production and inventory. As such, the movement descriptions are terse and often vague, lacking many details important to collectors. The types of information recorded in the ledgers also vary over time, and there are many known errors . An examination of the original hand written ledgers makes it clear that the factory records were often as chaotic as the production practices they were intended to document .
Collectors need to bear three important points in mind about Howard serial numbers:
First. large gaps exist between those blocks of serial numbers that actually were used, and even within the blocks that were used, numerous smaller gaps exist, including isolated individual missing serial numbers. Thus one cannot always correctly infer production totals for a particular watch model by subtracting the lowest serial number of a particular model from the highest. That procedure is only guaranteed to produce an upper bound to the actual production total. Better estimates of production totals for particular models, as well as earliest and latest corresponding production dates, are available in .
Second, after 1871, and most likely earlier, movements from more than one S# block were in production simultaneously. As mentioned, beginning and end dates for the production of each "Series," (i.e., each S# block) can be found in . (These dates do not include the irregular one-off production post-1903.)
Third, movements were neither completed nor sold in strict serial order, even within a given S# block. The factory records can often provide an accurate production date, but even here some interpretation is required. Sometimes the date appearing in the records is that on which a movement was completed, but other times it is a sales date (often to the main Howard sales office in N.Y.C.). Some movements, notably many Model 1869 movements originally equipped with Cole's escapements, even have more than one date (and sometimes as many as three!) recorded for them (see for example, Figure II-2 of ). Note that completion dates and sales dates sometimes differ by years!
Some additional information on E. Howard & Co. watch products can be found in the linked NAWCC Message Board thread. Additional pictures and more information can be viewed at Howard Pocket Watches 1858-1930.
1. Michael C. Harrold, American Watchmaking: A Technical History of the American Watch Industry, 1850-1930, NAWCC BULLETIN Supplement #14, Spring 1984.
2. Ron Price, Origins of the Waltham Model 1857: Evolution of the First Successful Industrial Watch, NAWCC BULLETIN Special Order Supplement #7, 2005.
3. Percy. L. Small, The Watches of E. Howard & Company, discovered and presented by Gerit Nijssen, with technical notes by Clint Geller, in NAWCC BULLETIN #292, October 1994, p. 563. (NAWCC members can access this BULLETIN issue at http://www.nawcc.org/index.php/nawcc.../338?task=view .)
4. Clint B. Geller, A Study of E. Howard & Co. Watchmaking Innovations: 1858-1875, NAWCC BULLETIN Special Order Supplement #6, 2005.
5. Edward Howard, in an essay in One Hundred Years of American Commerce, Vol. II, 1895, http://mb.nawcc.org/group.php?do=discuss&group=&discussionid=9, posted by Harold Visser.
6. Clint B. Geller, E. Howard & Company Watch Dials, NAWCC BULLETIN , Vol. 35, # 285, pp. 387-419, August 1993. (NAWCC members can access this BULLETIN issue at: http://www.nawcc.org/index.php/nawcc.../343?task=view .)
7. F. Earl Hackett, The Numbering of Howard Watches, Watchmakers Journal, June 1958.
8. Colonel George E. Townsend, E. Howard & Company Watches: 1858-1903, Heart of America Press, 1982.
9. Clint B. Geller, A Guide to Cases of E. Howard & Company Watches, NAWCC BULLETIN , Vol. 37, # 295, April, 1995. (NAWCC members may access this BULLETIN issue at: http://www.nawcc.org/index.php/nawcc.../329?task=view .)
10. Clint B. Geller, The Origin and Evolution of the E. Howard & Company Divided-Plate Keywind Movement, NAWCC BULLETIN , Vol. 42,# 324, pp. 17-35, February, 2000. (NAWCC members may access this BULLETIN issue at: http://www.nawcc.org/index.php/nawcc.../286?task=view .)
11. Harold Visser and Clint B. Geller, Private Label Movements and Dials for Webb C. Ball, by E, Howard & Co., NAWCC BULLETIN, Vol. 46, # 351, August, 2004. (NAWCC members may access this BULLETIN issue at: http://www.nawcc.org/index.php/nawcc.../264?task=view .)
12. As discussed in , in an earlier decade a small number of watches that utilized pallet bridge banking had been assembled in the US by the Tremont Watch Company from a combination of American and Swiss made parts [1, p. 32]. However, Tremont was long defunct when Howard introduced pallet bridge banking, the method of banking used on most modern wristwatches, back into the US market in the 1870's.
13. As discussed in , a small number of watches by Charles Fassoldt, an independent maker of Albany, NY, as well as a possible maximum of 100 watches by the NY Springfield Watch Co. (made prior to the fire which destroyed their factory on April 23, 1870) may have preceded Howard's first stemwind and stemset production.
14. Clint B. Geller, and Chris Abell, "An Early Experimental E. Howard & Co. Watch," NAWCC BULLETIN, Vol. 49, #369, August 2007. (NAWCC members may access this BULLETIN issue at: http://www.nawcc.org/index.php/nawcc.../243?task=view .)
15. Charles S. Crossman, The Complete History of Watchmaking in America, reprinted from a series of articles originally appearing in the Jeweler's Circular and Horological Review from 1885 through 1887.
16. Harold Visser and Clint Geller, "E. Howard & Co. Watch Movement Production Totals," which can be found as an attachment to the linked sticky thread in the American Pocket Watches Forum of the NAWCC Message Board.
E. Howard: The Man and the Company, NAWCC Bulletin, Supplement No. 1.
E. Howard & Co. Watches 1858-1903, George E. Townsend, Heart of America Press, Kansas City, MO, 1985
A Study of E. Howard & Co. Watchmaking Innovations 1858-1875, NAWCC Special Order Supplement #6, Clint B. Geller, Ph.D., NAWCC, Columbia, PA, 2005.
NAWCC Lending Library Material
The NAWCC Library & Research Center has back issues of the NAWCC Bulletin and other materials available to members on loan by mail. Use the Lending Library Form.
NAWCC Bulletin Online
Back issues of the NAWCC Bulletin are available online to NAWCC members who are currently logged in.
Online Ads And Catalog Sheets
1884 - Open-face, stem-winding watches introduced.
January 1885 - No. 44192 used in Arctic Circle.
April 5 1893 - Disposed of entire stock of watches. List of jobbers.
May 10 1893 - Reminder: disposed of entire stock of watches. List of jobbers.
April 3 1895 - New Model No. 8 & No. 10 introduced.
Brief movement descriptions, cuts and prices are shown on page 18 of the 1896 A.C. Becken Jewelers' Wholesale Price List.
Later Howard movement cuts, along with descriptions and pricing, can be seen on page 314 of the 1897 Lapp & Flershem Twenty-first Annual Illustrated Catalogue.
Serial number listings from the early Howard factory records found at the National Archives, as transcribed by Bob Rolfe and made available in web form by Dave Chaplain, including serial numbers 3,301 - 834,040: