Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Watches

WOO! HOO! It's Vintage Thingies Thursday over at ColoradoLady! Be sure to stop in and see the treasures everyone is sharing this week. I have two vintage pocket watches from my dad. One was his father's, but he's not sure where the other came from. They don't work anymore, and they're made of nickel instead of silver with engravings or anything, but of course they're valuable to me because they're family heirlooms. The style is called "open front" because there is not cover for the face. Too bad; I always like the idea of clicking a pocket watch open and closed, don't you?
I love that the minutes are broken down next to their hourly counterparts on the bottom photo, and I always enjoy watches that have the separate second hand dial. Of these two watches, the bottom appears to be older based on advertisements I've seen, and the fact that it doesn't have the Radiolite hands, the first luminous watch hands. Radiolites were not manufactured until after WWI.
I did a little research and found out that these are Ingersoll pocket watches. In 1892 Robert and Charles Ingersoll began manufacturing inexpensive pocket watches in New York City, with parts purchased from the Waterbury Clock Company in Connecticut. These watches were not the same as more expensive makes of the era. They did not use jewels in their mechanisms, instead they used the "pin lever" method. Instead of a jewel being used as a bearing, a hole was drilled directly into the pocket watch plate and a pin attached to the gear sat inside the hole. This was a simple and effective way to drastically reduce costs. Oiling was very important to reduce wear on the metal-to-metal contact surfaces, and the movements did eventually wear. But the goal was achieved - make a watch affordable for the everyday worker.
Geared for the "every man" the "Dollar Watch" became known the world over, and was even mentioned by President Teddy Roosevelt in a speech he gave on a hunting trip to Africa! "Everyman" would certainly describe my heritage! The watches were made of nickel, and were known for their accuracy and reliability. They were so popular that by the mid 1890s over one million had been sold! Neither of my watches is an actual "Dollar Watch" they would have been sold for about two or three dollars each. Today they are being sold for $2.00-$20.00 depending on the condition.
After a series of bankruptcy problems and several sales, by 1930 Ingersoll was a wholly British-owned company. The US branch of the company was named United States Time Corporation (now Timex Group USA), and continued producing the Ingersoll brand until the 1950s.
During the Depression, Ingersoll was saved from a second bankruptcy when they manufactured the first Mickey Mouse watch and obtained exclusive rights to all Disney characters. If you're interested, there's one for sale right now on eBay and includes a watch fob. It's only $999.99, but shipping is free; what a bargain!
Even though Ingersoll watches are not particularly valuable, they are considered highly collectible, they are a little piece of American history, and in my case a little bit of my family history.
For more nifty things and interesting stories be sure to visit the Vintage Thingies Thursday participants listed at ColoradoLady!
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24 comments:

Bossy Betty said...

These watches made me think of my father! He always carried one.

Tara Beaulieu said...

What a fabulous little bit of American History! And you're so right, they are valuable because they are from your family.

It's so special when we get to save things like this from people we love. I always enjoy reading and learning when I visit your blog! Happy VTT!

Postcardy said...

The history is very interesting. I wonder how much a dollar would be in today's money.

Shugee @ Blue Heron Cottage said...

Elizabeth, I love these. I didn't know their history and it's so nice your father had two. I've always like pocket watches also. I've wanted to get one at an antique store and have it on my desk area, or hanging with a tassel. Special item you have there.

Queenmothermamaw said...

Quite a piece you have there. Always love a little bit of history with such a fun meme. Our son has my grandfather's in a cloche. Blessings
QMM

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

My husband was given a similar watch that belonged to his grandfather. Your post is very interesting.

Jocelyn
http://justalittlesouthernhospitality.blogspot.com

fitty's pinky rose cottage said...

what a great piece! love the watch. reminds me of my late granddad. he had one like you have but can't remember where it is now.. thanks for sharing this watch, Elizabeth.
have a good weekend!
xo
fitty

CC said...

Oh my!!!!! How my father would have enjoyed this post. One of his favorite things to collect was pocket watches..and he loved to repair any broken ones he came across. I never saw one that he was unable to make work again..He had a watchmakers tool kit and everything else he needed..had his small shop set up in back, and loved,loved working on watches and old clocks. Thank you for showing your fathers watches and for letting me ramble on with my memories of my sweet father.
Happy VTT

Roslyn said...

Interesting historical background, I had heard of the Dollar watches before!
Your post reminds me that I must show my DH's antique gold pocket watch!

Ulla said...

Interesting background! Both watches are very nice looking.

Vonlipi said...

I love the ads. Very interesting history. Thanks for sharing!

LV said...

A great blog ad a piece of history for us all. My husband had an old railroad watch. I think my son has it now.

Miri said...

Very interesting post! Thanks so much.

Your watches are lovely...the second one has such an open and simple face. I love it!

D.E. said...

What a great post about the watch. Happy VT. Blessings, DE

Pink Roses and Teacups said...

Love these pocket watches, and the advertisements are so cool!

Debbie

Anna Matthews said...

Wow, thanks for sharing all that history. What beautiful watches and the ads, they are great!

Sherrie said...

My father always carried a watch as did my father-in-law. Sadly, It is a reflection of their times. It would nice to see them being used again.

Stacey said...

Thanks for sharing this little bit of family history - The pocket watches are wonderful:)

Jen said...

Your pocket watches are wonderful, thanks for sharing! You helped me remember the pocket watch my grandfather carried that fascinated me as a child.

Charlotte said...

The value of sentiment is more priceless than monetary value. Love these watches.

AshTreeCottage said...

What wonderful watches!!

Love,
Susan and Bentley
xxoo

Serendipity Handmade said...

Totally cool! I love a bit of historical info. with my VTT! :-)

http://serendipityhandmade.blogspot.com/search/label/vtt

Maureen said...

I think pocket watches are so cool - value doesn't matter beyond the sentimental kind really.

Coloradolady said...

Your watches are lovely. My husband has a few too,great pictures...