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 http://dueber-hampden.blogspot.com/


Sources

"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.

Images:

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.

32 comments:

  1. Lee,

    I have a family heirloom watch that is a Dueber Hampden. I have just started trying to find information on it. However, it's serial number is in the 6,000,000. It is a beautiful pocket watch. Is there someone you know that may have more information for me as to why this number appears not to exsist? I have reason to believe that it is not a fake. Thank you

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  2. What may be happening is you might be looking at the serial number on your case. Dueber-Hampden did not track serial numbers on the cases. The best thing would be to post up some images of your watch on our FACEBOOK (Dueber-Hampden page) so the collectors could take a closer look at your works/watch and help you to understand a bit more about your watch.Sounds interesting. Thanks for posting.

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  3. I found a watch with the serial number 2317241. The watch face measures 1.25". It is a family watch with the family name etched on it. We found other etching on the case we do not understand. If you help us to find out the model of the pocket watch we would be very grateful.

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  4. Renee--let me see what our collectors can say about your watch from the details you provided, it would be helpful if you post some images of it on our Dueber-Hampden Facebook page.

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  5. I have a Hamden pocket watch that has a gold filled case. Upon opening the case, there are no serial numbers - but Mollystark is written on the inside as well as Canton. On the case itself it says Duoco with a series of numbers. What exactly do I have ?

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  6. Wow - just found this blog - very interesting. Thanks

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  7. Great--glad you were able to learn something about your own watch from the blog entry. Join us for more indepth look at watches on the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works Facebook page.

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  8. A friend of mine in her 90s came across a Dueber-Hampden watch.
    I found the serial number on the case, but where do I look for the "actual" serial? It is a small pocket watch listed as "special".
    She wanted to toss it out because it didn't work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You need to look inside your watch on the "works." With the serial number you will be able to learn more about your watch.

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  9. My watch's serial number is: 7598807 "Safety Pinion" Hampton Canton, O.

    I don't know how to open the face cover; I could only open the back (2 covers).

    It measures 2 9/16" overall; I can't open to measure the face.

    Thanks for any comments or suggestions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Th serial number you are giving me is quite possibly off of your watch's case, as the serial numbers never went that high. Your serial number should be on your works, if both back covers are open you should be able to see the serial number on your works/movement.
      It sounds as though your watch is in a hunting case. If you depress the crown (winding button) it should release a latch and your watch's cover will open (if the mechanism is operating correctly).

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  10. My pocket watch has a serial number of 1251093 on the works. It also displays watchmakers of Melhuish & Henwood, Binghamton NY. The case shows Deuber Champion 14K Serial number 3164823. Can you furnish any informtion about this piece? It is absolutely beautiful and I would like to know its worth and history.Thanks for any information you can furnish.

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    Replies
    1. Even though you watch is case in a Dueber case, your movement may be from another company. Many other watch companies were buying Dueber cases. Unless we can see a photograph of your watch movement it is difficult for us to make a good assessment of your watch. You may post up a photograph on our Dueber-Hampden Watch Work Facebook.

      Delete
  11. my watch says hampden watch co. it belonged to my father so it is at least 75-100 years old i took it to a jewler who said it wasnt real gold not worth nothing.i was going to sell it for 10.00 but i just wanted to find out what it was worth?

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  12. I just started researching a Hampden wristwatch that I have. I've opened the back, and there is no serial number on the works. Does this mean it is a fake?

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  13. I recently found a pocket watch of my grandfathers. It's an open faced watch and on the front it says Hampden watch co. I opened the back and it says dueber silverine 1078205. Is there any information you could tell me about this pocketwatch? Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To help you understand the history of your watch, we would need to have the serial number from the watch movement. The number you are giving us, sounds like the case number.

      Delete
  14. I have a gold, open faced pocket watch with the serial number 2214040 on the gears part. It also says "Mollystark" and Duerber Special. I think it was made in 1907, but I was wondering if you could tell me anything else about it. Thank you

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  15. HI . Just thought I'd add my info to yours. I have my grandmother's Duerber Special. Serial number on the works is 2337072. I have a picture of her wearing this in either high school or college,which would put it around 1909 if she received it then. It has her name in it, which makes me think maybe it was a graduation gift. Its not working, andI'm wondering what to do about that. I'd love to wear it. It's lovely and I can't wear a nice wrist watch because I'm allergic to the metals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anonymous, thanks for reading our blog. Our best recommendation is to take your watch to a reputable watch repair person in your town to make the need repairs. This watch is part of your heritage and should be treasured.

      Delete
  16. I have a Hampden watch, open face. Mechanism SN 3450065. Engraved on mechanism is -- 17 Jewels, Safety Pinion, Adjusted. There's a WH Co. trademark and a cursive engraved mane that looks like Wm. Humby..?

    Case has "Wadsworth, 10K, Gold Filled, 5168699" impressed inside back cover. Inside back cover also has some hand inscribed letters/numbers.

    Under impressed letters on inside of back of case is Hllze3
    12 oclock position on inside of case is L740 and 465'6
    Middle of inside of case is 1 and MS 12-12-39
    6 oclock position on inside of case is 7653'

    Can you tell me what I have?

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    Replies
    1. Dear Anonymous
      What we can tell you about your watch, your Wadsworth case is not a Dueber case. Many times an individual selected his movement and had it cased by the jeweler. What we believe about your works is, 16 size, 17 jewels, Open face, nickel finish, adjusted, model 5, pendent set, and we believe Wm. McKinley. The marks inside your case are notation by jewelers about repairs on your watch.

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  18. I bought a Dueber-Hampdem watch at an antique show around 1969 because it is so beautiful. It also had a lovely sliding chain and could be worn as a watch on a chain. It never worked but I loved it and kept it as an heirloom to pass on down. Only recently I started to research its history and found the name and serial number inside the works. It reads Molly Stark Canton O USA. The serial # is 1244880 and I believe it was made in 1899. Can you give me an idea of its value. I do not wish to sell it but perhaps its value would require me to insure it.
    I loved reading the history of Molly Stark and the hospital for tubercular patients,. My brother had tuberculosis and was hospitalized for 11 years and recovered. Intend to learn as much about Dueber-Hampden Co. as possible because it is so interesting.

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  19. I have a Boston Watch Company pocket watch. Keywind Keyset serial number is 205008. I was told it is a Hampden. It is in a Fahy's number 1 coin silver case. Does anyone know if this could be true? It says Boston Watch co on dial and Boston Watch co on movement.

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  20. I forgot to add my Boston Watch Company pocket watch is a size 18

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  21. I have a 14k Hampden full hunter with Roman numeral dial, serial number 503346 can you tell me anything about it?

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  22. I recently picked up a vintage Molly Stark hunting style pocket watch. S/N 2516763 The watch is in great shape with two ornate flowers on each side. I was hoping one of your experts could share some info on the origin of this watch. Specifically: size, jewel count, style, model, and grade. It still winds but I have no idea how to set the time. Any help is definitely appreciated.

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  23. I found a four hundred series17jewels s/n 2121102 its only the watch body no case I did some research found it over 100YEARS OLD not working missing one arm but in good shape is there value to it an may you give me some detail on it

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  24. Today I found a Hampden pocket watch in a old box. The watch would pass for brand new. Here are the details: Grade No.200, #977989, 6S, 7J, lever set, hunter case with heavy engraving on all sides. Interesting information located once I opened the watch. Front cover has a very old b/w photo of a lady. Back cover has a factory attached sticker certification in perfect condition which says No:43974 (red ink numbers hand written) COLUMBIA STAMPED WITH OUR TRADEMARK IS GUARANTEED TO BE MADE OF TWO PLATES OF SOLID 14K GOLD FOR 20 YEARS. then under that writing still on the label is printed ESSEX WATCH CASE CO.
    No hairlines, no damage, no marks anywhere, the sticker is perfect. The photo edges in front cover appears someone tried to peel off photo and some small pieces were pulled off. Does not take away from the image. From what I have read this is a 1897 and works perfect. If this watch was every used by anyone, not so sure it was carried more than once or twice.
    Would love to know who the lady is in the watch. Do not use Facebook and not sure if it is even possible to track down any history. Any thoughts by anyone, please advise - classicrider@cox.net Tim

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  25. I have a Dueber Hunters' pocket watch with a decorative pink enamel scalloped border that is trimmed with gold on the face; it also has an insert second hand movement. The serial number is 872301. The case had hunting scenes etched into it, but they are highly worn. The keeps great time. It appears to have been made in 1873 from my searching the web. I was my grandfathers, and not for sale. Any idea of value?

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  26. I have a Hampden 18s Pocket watch with I assume a private label. Simmons Bros appears on the top plate which is gilt and Mt Orlead or Mt Brlead (not sure) appears on the small plate over the mainspring barrel and winder and it is nickle. I didn't know that a movement was made with two different styles. Also the balance arm has a viewing hole through it. I checked the serial numbers and they all match. I can provide pictures for identification. The serial number is 84910.

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