Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dueber-Hampden event at the Hoover Historical Center draws a crowd

Thanks to all those who attended the Spending Time With Dueber-Hampden event at the Hoover Historical Center on August 10, 2010.  More than 350 people came to learn about the Watch Works that at one time made Canton the Watch Making capital of the world. Some people came with a watch that belonged to a father, or grandfather, who worked at Dueber-Hampden.  Some folks came with a desire to learn more about this giant that helped shape life in Canton for decades. Still others were there to share in a love of repairing and collecting watches. Although temperatures touched 90 degrees, we had a nice crowd to hear the lectures and examine the watch collections that are some of the best Hampdens in the country.  This event was such a huge success primarily because of our audience and our collectors whose passion for Dueber-Hampden watches is keeping the legacy alive.

I would like to introduce our collectors:

Bob Arnold is a retired General Motors Product Engineer and spent most of his career at AC Spark Plug Division in Flint, MI.  Bob was interested in watches even as a child. His father offered to give him his pocket watch (an Elgin, which he still owns) if Bob would only buckle down and get better grades in high school.  Bob said "I got interested in Hampden watches in the 1970's when I noticed these beautiful watches, comparable to those by Hamilton and Illinois but at half to two thirds the price, were attracting very little interest."  Bob, along with Jim Hernick, is a co-author of Hampden Watch Co. book. 

Robert A. Capestrain founded Capestrain Jewelers in downtown Canton in 1956 and was fully active in his business for 50 years until his semi retirement in 2006. Bob started his watchmaker training as an apprentice at the age of 10 under the supervision of former Dueber-Hampden employees.  He pursued the study and restoration of antique timepieces and was a collector and speaker on the history of the Canton Dueber-Hampden watch factory.   He is a member and past president of the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.   In 2003 he undertook and completed the restoration of the 100 year old four dial Stark County Courthouse tower clock. 

Bob's talks at the event were standing room only.  He said it all began with a carrot...and the victory garden that led him to Mrs. Poet and an apprenticeship repairing watches...the rest is history.

Bob Dasco is a retired teacher from the Canton City School System, retiring in 2002, after 35 years. Bob has been collecting Dueber-Hampden watches and other related memorabilia for over 20 years.  He enjoys looking for Dueber items in antique stores, estate sales, flea markets, garage sales, local and regional NAWCC meetings, but lately the internet is his biggest source of Dueber-Hampden items. Bob is a member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors and regularly attends local, regional, and some national meetings. Bob said "My goal is to have one of every model manufactured by the Dueber-Hampden Watch Company, a goal that I probably will never reach but am having fun striving for."

Bob Kerr's attraction to Dueber-Hampden started actually by mistake, he began several years ago by buying a pocket watch at a garage sale.  He said "Being somewhat mechanical, I thought I'd try to get it running. Later I found out that this was a "dollar watch" and not worth much. It’s still not working today."  Bob likes to focus on Hampdens' everything from key-winds to railroad grades. He said there is nothing like getting one of the old ones back in running condition. “They are marvelous little machines that were built right in our back yard!” 

Edward Thouvenin wanted a pocket watch to wear when he drove his Model A.  In 1965, he found a key-wind watch in an antique shop in Charleston, South Carolina, but it wasn't for sale.  When he was stationed in Scotland, there was an abundance of old 19th century English watches. In Glasgow, Scotland Ed found his first Dueber-Hampden.  On returning to the states, he learned about railroad grade watches.  After retiring from the Navy and returning to Canton, Ed began collecting Dueber-Hampdens – his home town’s watch. 

Two other collectors who joined us were Bob Cooper and Jack Kern.  Thanks gentlemen for sharing your collections and passion with us. 

We made Mr. Ralph Goodenberger an honorary collector (image right shows Ralph and Robert "Rob" Vail Jr., member of the Dueber family).  Mr. Goodenberger's grandfather led the employees to Russia in 1930, and it was his grandfather's scrapbook that helped document the history about the move more clearly.

Special Thanks

Thanks to ArtsinStark for an individual artist grant that helped fund in part my project.

Thanks to Mr. Chris Skeeles of the Magic Picture Company for his holograph image of Dueber-Hampden. 

Much thanks goes to the First Ladies' Library for the loan of several glass showcases.

Special thanks to two student photographers, Kristi Trompower from Fairless High School, and Nancy Weaver from Stark State College of Technology. 

Our thanks especially goes to the Hoover Historical Center and its director Ann Haines and staff for making everyone feel welcome. 

Many unanswered questions were raised that will require more research.  It is nice to know there is still a continued interest and a passion for the Watch Works.  


  1. Thank you so much for posting the photos. I am happy to see Robert Vail, a distant cousin whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting. So terribly sorry that I couldn't make it to Canton for the event.

  2. I liked everything about the presentation. The history of the Canton area is so important. We need to preserve as much of that as possible. We are losing so many of our factories, which means our young people move away, to find jobs. This is one way to restore interest in the Canton area. M. S.

  3. Paula-sorry we missed you at the event.

    M.S. glad you enjoyed the presentation.

  4. A wonderful event indeed! These highly-credible collectors possess, not only a great camaraderie between them, but an obvious deep passion accompanied with their in-depth knowledge of their collections and history of Dueber-Hampden. We were very honored to have them at the Historical Center and grateful to them for so graciously sharing their prized collectables and vast information. Thank you, Gentlemen! And kudos to you, Lee! It was your efforts in organizing this that made it possible. God Bless you all!