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  1. #1
    Janet R. H.
    Guest

    Default Waltham/Philadelphia Watchcase Co.

    I inherited a pocket watch. The works are Waltham. Engraved on the works is: A.W.W. Co. Mass. 15 Jewels. Also, the number: 19259294.

    On the inside of the case lid is engraved: Philadelphia Watch Case Co. Guaranteed twenty years. Also, the number: 6941041. I believe this indicates that the case (watch?) was made in 1894.

    Also engraved on the inside of the case lid are:Laguil?fid(?) this is very small and I have a hard time reading it even with a magnifying glass; and, what looks like 'clim8' and right under that it; c(?)7; also what looks like the number P4510651.

    I've been checking various sites but I can't find any information about this watch. I would appreciate any help, any suggestions of where I should look.

    Thanks! Janet

  2. #2
    Janet R. H.
    Guest

    Default Waltham/Philadelphia Watchcase Co. (RE: Janet R. H.)

    I inherited a pocket watch. The works are Waltham. Engraved on the works is: A.W.W. Co. Mass. 15 Jewels. Also, the number: 19259294.

    On the inside of the case lid is engraved: Philadelphia Watch Case Co. Guaranteed twenty years. Also, the number: 6941041. I believe this indicates that the case (watch?) was made in 1894.

    Also engraved on the inside of the case lid are:Laguil?fid(?) this is very small and I have a hard time reading it even with a magnifying glass; and, what looks like 'clim8' and right under that it; c(?)7; also what looks like the number P4510651.

    I've been checking various sites but I can't find any information about this watch. I would appreciate any help, any suggestions of where I should look.

    Thanks! Janet

  3. #3

    Default Waltham/Philadelphia Watchcase Co. (RE: Janet R. H.)

    Hi Janet:

    Welcome to the NAWCC Pocket Watch Message Board!

    The American Waltham Watch Co. (Waltham, MA) had its origins in the 1850's. It was the first successful company in America to manufacture watches in mass production using machinery to make identical (or at least, near identical) parts. Over the next hundred years or so of its existence, its output of jeweled watches (over 34 million) was only exceeded by one other company, the National Watch Co. at Elgin, IL. Commonly referred to as "Waltham," the company made a full line of watches ranging from modest, affordable watches to some of the finest watches made in this country. An 1884 article on the American Watch Co. is available on Greg Frauenhoff's website.

    You can find out some basic facts about your Waltham watch by entering the serial number on the movement (the "works") in the field on the Serial Number link accessable from the NAWCC Information Storage website. Don't use any commas in entering the serial number. There is also a Glossary of the terms provided by the serial number lookup. Note: When a number appears by itself in the Comment Column, it is the page in the factory serial list where the entry appeared. i.e. "Comment 42" is on page 42 of “Serial Numbers With Description of Waltham Watch Movements,Waltham Watch Co., Waltham, MA, 1954, (commonly referred to as "The Gray Book"). Or, a similar search may be done at the Swiss - Waltham Website. This website also has a short history of the American Waltham Watch Co. and other interesting information. But, as old ref::Tom McIntyre Pointed Out, more complete information is available at the NAWCC Information Storage website.

    Should the date not be listed in the search of the NAWCC Information Storage - Waltham Serial Number Data Base, Oldwatch.com's Waltham Production Date Chart, or the PocketWatchSite's Waltham Date Table are a means for determining the approximate production date. In general, we think of serial number lists (not just for Waltham, but for other watch manufacturers as well) to only be accurate within a year or two at best, and recognize that there are numerous exceptions wherein which the dates may be off as much as 3 years or more.

    Having looked up your watch, serial number 19,259,294 on these websites, it has been determined to be a 3/0-size, ladies watch, model 1900, grade No. 315, unadjusted movement, built in about 1914.

    Catalog Information for your watch can be seen online on page W6 of the 1917 Oskamp-Nolting Catalog (in which you can see where your watch fit in Waltham's line)) at:
    www.elginwatches.com/scans/sales_catalogs/1917_Oskamp-Nolting/m_index.html

    To view, go to the Elgin Watch Collectors Site Home Page at elginwatches.com, then copy and paste the address in your browser's address bar and click on 'Go'.

    Only a small percentage of American watches (or Swiss watches for the North American market) were cased at the factories prior to the mid-1920's (even then, uncased movements were furnished to the trade at least until the 1960's). Most watch companies just made movements (the "works") in industry standard sizes. The case companies made cases in those same sizes. The practice at that time was to go to a jeweler, select the quality of the movement and then pick out the desired style and quality of case. The jeweler would then fit the movement to the case in a matter of moments.

    Or, watches were sold by mail-order. Large outfits such as Sears, Roebuck & Co., Montgomery Ward, or T. Eaton (in Canada), would offer the movements in a variety of cases of different design and quality in their catalogs. Smaller mail-order retailers would case the watches, typically in a 20-year gold filled case and offer it only that way, with the buyer not having a choice of cases.

    As you realized, your case was made by the Philadelphia Watch Case Co. 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 Library), has a fairly good history of the Philadelphia Watch Case Co., including reproductions of over twenty photos taken inside of the factory. Briefly, quoting from page 48,

    "MR. THEOPHILUS ZURBRUGG bought out the watch case company of Leichty & Le Bouba in 1884, in Philadelphia, Pa.

    "About 1888 he changed the name to the Philadelphia Watch Case Co. He made various types of cases, using a crown as one trademark and an arm and hammer as another. ... The company moved to Riverside, N.J. in 1902. ...

    "In 1904 this man managed a series of mergers, which brought together his own Philadelphia Watch Case Co., Bates and Bacon, Crescent and the Keystone Watch Case Co."

    From page 7:
    "... After a series of mergers in 1904 the name became the Keystone Watch Case Co., Riverside, N.J."

    Regardless of the company’s name, the cases continued to be stamped with previous, well-known trade names.

    Your case is gold-filled. A large proportion of movements are housed in gold-filled cases. These cases are made of a sheet of inexpensive, "composition" metal (brass), sandwiched between two thinner sheets of gold by applying heat and pressure. Greg Davis has posted an excellent description of the old ref ::Gold Filled Process. This produces a much heavier layer of gold than electro-plating. One process of doing this is defined by the term, "rolled gold-plate" (which is generally considered to use a thinner gold sheet, see a old ref :iscussion On The Topic). The gold sheet that becomes the inside of the case is thinner than the gold sheet that becomes the outside of the case. Frequently, the purity of the gold used in the sheets, expressed in karats, is stamped inside the back of the case. Some case companies indicated the thickness of the outer layer of gold by using different trademarks for different thicknesses. Before federal regulations outlawed the practice, some case companies indicated the thickness of the outer layer by the number of years for which the case was warranted. Some watch case companies guaranteed their cases to wear permanently, the case would be replaced if it ever wore through to the brass. Examples of these are the:

    Crescent Extra grade,
    Fahys Permanent grade, and
    Illinois (Watch Case Co.) Elgin Pride grade.

    Not all case companies were forthright about marking the cases or honoring the warranty (which is what gave rise to the federal regulations). Frequently, the color of the gold (imparted by the metal with which the gold is alloyed) is expressed in conjunction with the term, "gold-filled." Thus it is not uncommon to see terms such as "yellow gold-filled," "white gold-filled," "green gold-filled," and so forth, used in case descriptions.

    The tiny numbers and marks, hand-scratched on the inside of the back of the case, are watch repairer's or jeweler's marks. When watches were serviced, the watch repairer would place his mark and/or a date code inside the back. The marking might include a code to indicate the type of service that was done. Thus, when the watch came back, the watchmaker would instantly know just when he (or she) last worked on it.
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  4. #4
    Janet R. H.
    Guest

    Default Waltham/Philadelphia Watchcase Co. (RE: Janet R. H.)

    Wow! Kent, thank you so very much. I will follow up on the sites you provided.

    Joy!
    Janet R.H.

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