Saturday, May 29, 2010

Groundbreaking for the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works...1886

In my last blog I talked about how to understand your watch by looking at the serial number and characteristics. Robert "Bob" Arnold dropped by Canton during his visit to the Cleveland clock and watch show this month. Bob will be part of our event, "Spending Time with Dueber-Hampden," on August 10 from 3-7 the Hoover Historical Center in North Canton, Ohio. If you want a chance to meet someone who is absolutely an expert in Dueber-Hampden watches, I hope you can drop by with your watches.

Breaking ground for the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works, was an important time for Canton. When the great Watch Works began putting down roots in October 1886, Canton began changing too. Stark County's largest industry from the late 1880s until World War I would be the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works. This giant Watch Works would create a building boom in Canton that would spawn eleven different lumber yards (Heald, v4., 144).

John Walter's newly created construction business was happily charged with framing the roofs, and truss works for the behemoth Dueber-Hampden Works. Some of Walter's other endeavors included building a bridge across Meyer's Lake (Heald, v4, 298).

The Dueber-Hampden Watch Works plans called for two buildings. The Hampden Watch Works would be on the south side and the Dueber Watch Case Works would be to the north. Six million bricks were shipped to Canton from Zanesville, Ohio, 1,000,000 would be used for the face walls. The offices would be in the central part of the building, and these structures would rise 142 feet high--that was the equivalent of a 12-story skyscraper. The turrets would be 100 feet high from the ground up, and the stack would be 150 feet high. The crowning jewel would be the great clock tower, with its four faces. This clock tower kept time for 60 years (Heald,v2.,171-172).

I spoke with Canton native Richard Haldi, a local historian who volunteers with the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum. He often speaks to local groups about the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works. Mr. Haldi said that the original plans for the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works called for two additional buildings situated next to the original factory (near the trees in the artist's rendering of the plans shown above), the second set would mirror the original Works. But just like now, there was a recession and the second set of buildings was never started. (Haldi) (also noted is the misspelling on this original drawing)

Guy Tilden, one of Canton's top architect, was commissioned to build the south part of the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works. Just a few days before the Watch Works was to open, a cyclone moved through the area, and ripped the factory apart. John Dueber asked Mr. Tilden to reinforce the building columns and John Dueber further instructed that much of the decorative pieces on the building were to be taken down. The image above shows Dueber-Hampden employees surveying the damages from the storm just days before the Works would open. In the years following, Mr. Tilden remained one of Canton's most important architects whose signature buildings helped to define Canton's skyline.

Dueber-Hampden also played a part in changing the religious influence of Stark County. The Zion Lutheran Church, established at 901 Dueber Avenue SW in 1895, came as a direct response to the growing population on the west side, and following the building of the Watch Works (Heald, v4, 400).

To serve the growing West side Methodist population, the Dueber Avenue Methodist Church was established (Heald, v4, 403).

I had the pleasure of meeting Harriet Flaugan (left) and Dot Trimback (shown in the photo above). These sisters live in Malvern, Ohio and spent a Sunday afternoon telling me about their father who worked as a watch maker at the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works. Mrs. Trimback said, "Dad would work all day on watches, and then come home and spend the night working on watches in a little room upstairs. "

Their father, Mr. Raymond Weber, was invited to travel with the company to Russian but declined because he felt his children were too young. When their father didn't go to Russia, he worked at various jewelry stores including Kaufman's in Pittsburg, before returning to Canton to work at George Duebles' until he retired. The smaller photo shows Dot (left) with Harriet and their mother Selma Silvest Metz Weber.

Harriet Flugan is Beth Pearce's mother, and Beth is married to my former boss from 20 years ago, Gary Pearce. It was nice to catch up.

The image (below) looking west on Tuscarawas Street shows the mood of the city as Dueber-Hampden comes to Canton in 1888.

More to in Canton as the Watch Works builds

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Haldi, Richard. Personal interview. 10 Mar. 2010.

Heald, Edward T., ed. The American Way of Life in Stark County, Ohio 1917-1959. Vol. 2. Columbus, OH: The Stoneman Press, 1959. 171-72. Print.

Heald, Edward T., ed. The American Way of Life in Stark County, Ohio 1917-1959. Vol. 4. Columbus, OH: The Stoneman Press, 1959. 144-403. Print.

Trimbach, Dot, and Harriet Flugan. Personal interview. 14 Mar. 2010.


Hampden Watch and Dueber Case Works used with permission from the Richard Haldi collection.

Dueber-Hampden Watch company building and cyclone images used with permission from the Edward Thouvenin collection.

Dot Rrimback Selma Silvest Metz Weber, Harriet Flugan used by permission of Beth Pearce

Dueber-Hampden's came to Canton, used by permission from The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, Canton, Ohio

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What can you learn about your watch's history from its serial number and characteristics....

The last blog I mentioned corresponding with Mr. Donald Berger, formally of Massillon, Ohio, and now living in Philadelphia, PA. My acquaintance with Mr. Berger began when he contacted me about his grandfather's watch.

The photograph (above) shows the Cigar Makers' Union. Donald Berger's grandfather, George Herrmann Berger is seated on the left side. Of his four siblings and mother, who migrated to America from Amsterdam in 1882, only George remained in Massillon. It is believed he began work at the Sailer Cigar Factory when he was 15-years-old. His wife, Eva Louis Masson, came to America from Franche-Comte (eastern France). By the time Donald was growing up the cigar business was nearly finished, but his grandfather kept a shed on the side of the house where he rolled his own cigars. Although Mr. Berger said he had no recollections about his grandfather's watch, he did say he has tried to keep it running.

Without seeing the watch, my watch collectors were able to tell a little more about the watch based on the works serial number. Mr. Berger and I were able to learn the year his watch was made.

What we learned about Mr. Berger's watch are the same characteristics you can learn about your own watch.

Thanks to Robert "Bob" Arnold of Flint, Michigan, if you own a Dueber-Hampden watch you can learn a lot with just the serial number.

Bob has spent more than 20 years collecting, cataloguing, and looking at Dueber-Hampdens. Mr. Arnold, a retired engineer working for the automobile industry, has put close to 11,000 serial numbers into the book, Hampden Watch Co. The book contains an extensive list of serial numbers that will help identify the model of your watch, setting, style, construction, and description.

It is rumored that when Dueber-Hampden Watch Works closed its doors and shipped the remainder of its plant to Moscow, that paperwork containing the serial numbers of the Dueber-Hampden watches was taken south to Waynesburg, Ohio and burnt.

It is interesting to note the fact that Cunard shipping authorities were able to identify a body of a passenger washed ashore on the coast of Ireland in October 1915. This passenger was aboard the Lusitania when it had been torpedoed on May 7, 1915. The passenger had been wearing a Dueber-Hampden watch bearing the serial number 3,039,347. By looking at the serial number on the watch, the authorities were able to contact the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works and trace the number back to the owner. (Repository)

By identifying the deceased shows that there were accurate records and that those records did exist.

I have seen records for most other U.S. watch company detailing watches and serial numbers. If the numbers for the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works were destroyed, all collectors certainly owe a debt of gratitude to Bob Arnold for his meticulous record keeping and sharing of serial numbers in his book.

According to the Hernick and Arnold Hampden Watch Co. book, there are some four million Hampden watches that are now more than 80 years old. Before this book, Dueber-Hampden watches were from the "Forgotten Watch Company."(Hernick, vii) .

Arnold's book is easy to understand and will help any collector, professional or beginner, to understand more about the Dueber-Hampden watch.

The items to look for when identifying your watch, are size, jewel count, style, model, and grade.

Watch size tells the watch diameter. When measuring your watch you need to measure the pillar plate, also called dial, or front plate. This plate is what the dial is fasten to, and this dial will cover all of the pillar plate. You will want to measure the diameter of this plate. These measurements are from Hampden Watch Co.(1).

The second feature of your watch is the jewels. Jewels serve as bearings in a watch reducing friction. Watches may have between 7 to 23 jewels. The more jewels your watch has, the higher quality your watch was.

Third, the style of your watch could be open faced or hunting. An open face watch has the pendant at 12 o'clock, where a hunting style will have the pendant set at 3 o'clock. A hunting style should always have a cover. Key wind, or key set is a watch that you wind with a key, and this watch could be either a hunting, or an open faced watch (Hernick 1).

The above image shows a hunting watch style with the pendent at 3 o'clock and a cover

Arnold's book is useful in identifying features of your watch. To find the watch model the recommendations are to match the shape of plates, bridges, balance cocks, and the winding wheels, and the shape of the ratchet click.

Finally, look at the back of your watch and match the name with the grades listed in Hampden Watch Co. book (Hernick 1).

With the serial number, it may be possible to determine all the features as well as determine the year your watch was made, and where it was made as well. Hampden serial numbers began at 58,000 in 1877, at the end of the New York Watch Co. and the beginning of the Hampden Watch Co. The end is 4,000,000 for 1927 when the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works went into receivership. No serial numbers have been found above 4,000,000.

Today Arnold is still continuing to build his data base by looking at watches selling on the internet, and collecting serial numbers from collectors. Thanks Bob, for helping all watch owners and collectors understand more about their watches, and making research a little easier.

More to come...

If you found this interesting, please consider joining us on Dueber-Hampden Facebook, or tweeting the link


"A Millennium Moment, October 10, 1915." The Canton Repository 22 Feb. 1999: A-11. Print.

Hernick, James L., and Robert F. Arnold, eds. Hampden Watch Company. First Edition ed. Columbia, PA: The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc., 1998. 32-43. Print.


Image: Cigar Union: Vogt, Margy. Massillon, Reflection of a Community. Massillon, OH: Margy Vogt, 2009. 83. Print. & courtesy of Rudy Turkal

Images: Watch Dial Sizes(1) Hernick, James L., and Robert F. Arnold, eds. Hampden Watch Company. First Edition ed. Columbia, PA: The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc., 1998. Print.

Images: Dueber-Hampden Watch used with permission from the Edward Thouvenin collection.