Monday, January 25, 2010

The beginnings of John C. Dueber...

No one could have predicted the future for nine-year-old John C. Dueber when he immigrated with his parents to America from Germany (about 1851). An early apprenticeship as a watch maker however put Dueber on the road to a future in the watch making industry that would span several decades, touch many lives, and change the makeup of several cities.

For five years, Dueber spent his days making watch cases in a small room in Cincinnati as an apprentice watch maker. At night, he crafted wedding rings saving the money that would one day fund his own watch factory. (Heald,v2., pg.170)

In 1863, after his apprenticeship ended, Dueber with partner Francis Doll, rented a one-room office and workshop on the third floor of the Carlisle Building in Cincinnati.

image of The Dueber Watch Case Factory--used by permission from The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, Canton, Ohio)

Within a year, Doll left the business, but Dueber continued at the same location for at least another two years, and his business flourished for more than a decade in this area. (Gibbs , pg.3)

Excerpt from: 1875 Kenny's Illustrated Cincinnati: page 16o

Dueber Watch Case begins...

It is reported that Dueber moved his business back and forth between several locations in Newport, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio before settling his factory in Newport, Kentucky. Around 1874, the watch case operations moved into a new brick building on Washington and Jefferson (now Sixth Street) in Newport, Kentucky, although Dueber kept his office in Cincinnati. This new factory in Newport employed 60 workers who produced gold and silver watch cases. These were some of the most elegant watch cases with elaborate details. By 1880, the factory needed to be expanded again, so this time Dueber kept the original building to produce gold watch cases, and decided to build a new factory to produce silver watch cases. The two plants were joined only by a tunnel, and between 300 to 600 men and women were employed there. (Gibbs , pg.3-5) .

Image: Dueber Watch Case Factory in Newport, Kentucky.

Image used by permission from the Northern Kentucky Views

Leaving Newport, Kentucky...

Dueber built a gasworks around 1886 to supply the necessary gas to his factories, and later he tried to furnish other entities and the Newport citizens with gas. Gas mains were laid down, but Newport city officials halted the operations and litigations ensued to stop Dueber. Hard feelings over taxes and growing city administrators' hostility toward Dueber and his company was one factor for Dueber deciding to leave Newport, Kentucky. Another deciding factor was the Dueber company was stretched beyond its own capacity, and although investments and profits could provide for expansion, the factory was hemmed in without an opportunity to buy more land for expansion.

Lastly...In the earliest days of watch making, companies made both cases and works, but post Civil War period companies specialized in either movements, or the cases. Because cases could be made faster than the watch works, there was a surplus of cases, and the Watch Case Manufacturer Trust boycotted Dueber. In addition, Dueber alienating his three best and biggest customers, Elgin, Waltham and Illinois, hampered his growing business. Dueber's choice in the face of these difficulties was to give in to the watch case trust, and make peace in Newport, or ... buy a watch movement company and move to a new location. (Gibbs , pg.3-5) .

"Dueber Watch Case Factory." Northern Kentucky Views. Web. 24 Jan 2010.

Gibbs, James W. From Springfield to Moscow: The Complete Dueber-Hampden Story. Revised Edition--supplement to the 1954 Dueber-Hampden Story. Philadelphia, PA: Supplement to the Bulletin of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc., 1986. Print.

Heald, Edward Thorton. "Dueber-Hampden Watches 1886." The Stark County Story. First Edition. 2. Columbus, Ohio: The Stoneman Press, 1950. Print.

Kenny, Daniel J. Illustrated Cincinnati; A Pictorial Hand-Book of the Queen City, Comprising Its Architecture, Manufacture, Trade. Cincinnati: R. Clarke, 1875.

image of The Dueber Watch Case Factory--used by permission from The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, Canton, Ohio)

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