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LET'S HELP THE ELGIN HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM!
Many of us remember reading this sad news Bob Fullerton brought us about a break-in that occurred at the Elgin Area Historical Society Museum in Elgin, Illinois during June of last year...
TOPIC: "The Great Elgin Pocketwatch Caper"
Tom McIntyre's comments in particular stuck in my mind...
"...we could easily relieve the pain of this very nice small museum by replacing their collection. I will be happy to donate at least one of the watches." He also suggested... "a shopping list of what would be useful" ...as a first step.
Over the months that followed several of us have talked about this and how we might be of help.
To that end our own Ron Birchall has taken the lead in putting a plan together through discussions with the Elgin Historical Society and the IHC185 Administration. Today I am pleased and proud to announce that IHC 185 is taking on this project officially. I am confident that together we will not only rebuild the Elgin Railroad Watch Collection but we can also upgrade their entire Elgin Watch Collection so that it might become the very best that it can be.
Our goal is to put together a truly world-class collection of Elgin watches for permanent display in the city where they were made. My sincere hope is that every IHC185 Member will step up and contribute wrist, pocket or military timekeepers to the collection. Ron has put together a basic "shopping list" of a few suggested items and his post will follow this one. Those of our members who are willing to contribute their expertise in servicing or restoring watches are also encouraged to pledge their efforts.
Bill Briska, Treasurer for the Elgin Historical Society, author of "Elgin Time: A History of the Elgin National Watch Company" and IHC185 Member is involved in this project. Bill assures me that every gift we make to this project is fully tax deductible. So everyone, feel free to pledge cash contributions as well as watches and ephemera for this important and worthwhile cause.
This is a unique opportunity to show the world what IHC185 Members are made of. Our generous donations to this project will portray all of us and our hobby in the very best possible light.
Please pledge generously below in this topic.
Lindell V. Riddle, Founder and President
Internet Horology Club 185 at www.ihc185.org
Watch & Clock Discussions, On-Line Education Worldwide
Phone: 440-461-0167 weekday afternoons
The original Elgin Pocketwatch Caper thread reported on the theft of 15 pocket watches from the Elgin National Watch Company exhibit at the Elgin Museum. While not all railroad watches, the watches removed included the museum’s modest railroad watch display. (Fortunately, the thief did not take Elgin No. 113, the 13th watch made by the company and presented to J.C. Adams by the Board of Directors for his role in the founding of the company.) The stolen watches were on loan from a local private collector. At this point, the watches are considered lost and the museum’s insurance has reimbursed the collector. The collector has since donated several other watches to the Museum.
In the original thread, there was quite a bit of discussion about how to help recover the missing watches but Tom McIntyre’s suggestion to donate some watches to replace those lost in the robbery made the most practical sense. What were missing at the time (IMHO) were enough specifics that members could effectively respond to.
I have discussed the theft with Elisabeth Marston, Museum Director and Bill Briska, Museum Treasurer and what might be done to mitigate the impact. We concluded that the biggest impact of the theft was the railroad watch display but as the original display was barely adequate, help acquiring a representative railroad collection would be a very big help to the Museum. We are proposing here that we, as NAWCC Internet Horology Chapter 185 members, endeavor to acquire this collection for the Elgin Area Historical Society and Museum. With such a collection, the museum will construct a new display of Elgin Railroad Watches and provide appropriate recognition to this effort.
In making a list of the desired content for a display of Elgin Railroad Watches, it is important to note that a Museum display is primarily educational. In this case, the desired railroad watch exhibit at the Museum would contain representative examples of the railroad quality watches made by the Elgin National Watch Company. Fortunately, for the most part, these watches are in plentiful supply and not the most dear to collectors. Such a representative list follows in the next post:
Suggested Elgin Railroad Watches for Museum
[Donations updated as of May 17, 2006 16:58]
Watches may be sent to:
Elgin Area Historical Society
360 Park Street
Elgin, Illinois 60120
There is no requirement that donated watches be perfect, presentable quality would be appreciated and would reflect well on our organization. Again, these specific grades are listed because they are representative and readily available. Other grades are certainly acceptable as well. The obvious exception to “representative and readily available” is the group known as “Lace Doilies.” While I may be dreaming, one of these beauties would be a really very special addition to the museum.
Please include a note that the donation is in support of the NAWCC Internet Horology Chapter 185 Watch Project. Receipt of the donation will be acknowledged by the Museum but the Museum cannot confirm value. For tax purposes, valuation must be determined by the donor. Usually, a purchase receipt or reference to the current price guide is adequate. The museum’s practice is that they may only accept donations intended for display and do not accept donations of goods for resale. They would happily accept donations of cash for the project.
If donors would post in this thread what they have donated, I will check off the item in the table so others will know what needs remain. If convenient, post a photo as well. Otherwise, I will try to post photos as the watches are received. (The two items initially checked are already owned be the museum.)
A little about the Museum
I live about 20 miles from Elgin and had never taken the opportunity to visit the Museum until earlier this year. I found it a very pleasant place indeed, covering the history of the area about 35 miles west of Chicago on the Fox River. Located a half mile from the original factory site, the Museum occupies the beautifully restored 1856 Old Main building, originally part of the Elgin Academy, a private school founded by B. W Raymond. Of the exhibits, the largest is a permanent exhibit dedicated to the Elgin National Watch Company.
Here is the Museum. The Elgin National Watch Company exhibit occupies half of the second floor.
Next to the welcoming banner shown here, you can make out a wall size display of a 100 year timeline highlighting ENWC events, people and the factory along with US and Local events. On the opposite wall is a display of the people and events surrounding the founding of the company and the startup of the factory.
There is an historic watchmaker’s bench …
…along with a display of various belt driven production tools.
There is also an exhibit of life at the National House, the company boarding house. (Photo from the book Elgin Time by by Aulft and Briska.)
This is the first of several watch exhibits. (The two wall cases were the one’s rifled during the robbery.) Another exhibit highlights defense material produced during WWII. The factory tower clock is also on display. Finally, another case displays products the Elgin factory produced during the later years in an attempt to diversify.
The museum will construct an entirely new display for the our contributions.
Elgin is home to over 100,000 people and is growing rapidly to the West into Illinois farmland. For some facts about the City of Elgin see this site.
You did a great job putting this together.
Here is a donation from me and my family. This one is a multi-color Elgin fancy dial and hands in a remarkably crisp Roy 14K solid-gold case. We are proudly donating it to this very worthy project.
Click these words for additional views.
What a great start!
|IHC Member 155|
I do not have any pockets however I could send this Elgin Deluxe with a box if this would be helpful. Let me know what you think.
IHC Member 155
|IHC Member 155|
IHC Member 155
That looks like a very nice example and I expect that it would make a nice addition to the museum's wrist watch collection.
hi Ron and Lin
I have An Elgin 18s 17j BWR that I
would be happy to donate to the
Elgin museum it is a grade 77 and
a class 77 circa 1889
Our first of what I'm sure will be many Railroad Elgins!
Here's a pretty nice B.W. Raymond Gr 240. The dial has some light hairlines but it shows pretty well.
Ron my buddy,
Thanks for putting your generosity where your mouth is!
Our second donated Railroad Elgin...
IHC Life Member
Just to clarify how donations will be handled let me say that the Elgin Area Historical Society Museum intends to exhibit as many different examples of Elgin made timepeices as possible. This means that we will put on display any watch that is in reasonably good condition. The watch does not need to be running but it does needs to look decent. Our definition of decent means it is not dirty, excessively dinged or damaged. It does not need to be in pristine shape by any means. This applies to wrist and pocket watches, as well clocks and timers. Military items are also appreciated. If we obtain a duplicate item the better looking one will be used. The other will either be kept for archival purposes or, perhaps, worked into the display in a secondary fashion. We want to display the variety of Elgin products and this means going beyond displaying merely an example of each movement. Since movements were fitted with a variety of dials, hands and cases we obviously have multiple examples of movements on display. A donation of a watch in an orignal box would be an addtional treat for us and would be displayed with the box. Thanks again for all your help.
IHC Life Member
Rich Kuhn's donation of an Elgin Deluxe is very much appreciated. His watch is in much better condition than the one example currently in the collection. The Society only has about 12 wrist watches on display at this time. Among these are a BWR wrist watch, an early battery powered watch, a mystery dial, about four ladies watches including one from the Parisenne line, plus a few other men's watches.
The wrist watch collection is in need of even more help than the pocket watch portion, especially considering the huge number different styles of wrist watches produced. Frankly, many of the wrist models donated to the Museum in the past have been pretty beat up -- basically garage sale items. Nonetheless, these are kept for archival purposes. So any donation of wrist models will be greatly appreciated.
By the way, if anyone would like to donate a watch that needs repair or reconditioning that is not a problem. We have members who have volunteered to handle that. So if your donation needs improving send it to my attention and once completed we'll post a picture here and send it to the museum on your behalf.
Up next, here is one that needs nothing my friends... John Flahive of Holland, Michigan has generously contributed this new-old-stock in the box 27-Jewel Elgin, representing one of the very last American Made wristwatches. It is complete with inner and outer boxes, even the $49.95 price tags!
Outstanding donation from the John J. Flahive III collection...
Now that is definitely cool!
IHC Life Member
Most of the items stolen from the Museum were on long term loan from an Elgin area collector, Tom Rausenberger. The Museum’s insurance settlement went to Tom. Being the great guy that he is, Tom took the money and began acquiring more watches to donate to the Museum. He recently gave the following to the Museum. Sorry, I tried to photograph these but the results were disappointing with the camera I had, so you will have to rely on these descriptions.
Two Father Time watches of which one is a mint case. One BW Raymond, 17J in a gold filled case. One H.H. Taylor movement (a goal of the Museum is to acquire one example of every named movement). A very nice 7J, size 0 in a Hunter case. An Elgin grade 573 movement in a gold filled case. Three 17J, 16 size watches, one is a swing out case with a private label jeweler’s dial. A mid-1960s, 21J, size 12, imported movement label Elgin. In addition, he acquired several chains and fobs. All of these watches can be used for the exhibit. They are either good specimens in themselves, or can be used to illustrate some aspect of watch making, such as examples of various styles.
Thanks to Tom for his support and his un-defeatable spirit.
Thanks to Larry Pepple we now have an unusually nice B.W. Raymond 18-size, 15-Jewel, Grade 77 Railroad Watch from 1889 production added to the museum collection. This is a fine example and Larry's generosity is greatly appreciated. Everyone, let's do as Larry did, show that Chapter 185 Members are committed to building the Elgin Watch Collection in the city where they were made!
Larry Pepple donated this good looking B.W Raymond...
|IHC Life Member|
I have a early-ish Elgin on sale here on Ch185, it is only a 7 Jewel but is in excellent condition and a very nice 4 hinge case to me all looks to be original and a good example.
The watch has just been fully serviced, and running like new.
If this is not what you are looking for I will look out for other examples.
I sent a couple of ladies wrist watches yesterday.They are NOS but have been in the safe for 40 some years so they are a little shop worn.I hope they can get some use out of them.
I believe that is a very nice example and would be much appreciated. Thank you very much for your support.
Thank you Julian. Your generosity is very much appreciated.
|IHC Member 234|
...not having been a collector of Elgin timepieces per se, I don't have any watches to donate that are beyond the 'usual'...however, I am a collector of postcards as well that depict the various watch and clock factories and have two of the Elgin Watch factory (one used and postmarked 1906) that I would send to the museum if they have use or a place for them...Jim...PS: will send them off...Jim
Fine idea Jim,
Sounds like great items that can be worked into a worthwhile display.
Thanks to you, to Julian and to Chris for the generous donations.
I'm very proud of our members.
Thanks for the postcards Jim. Those two views and especially the first are not seen that often.
Just to clarify a possible misconception though:
We are in fact, very much looking for the usual.
The museum is looking for examples of what the Elgin National Watch Company made (including advertising). Most of what they made is "the usual." The specific watch movements enumerated in the list of railroad standard watches in the third post above have been picked because they are representative of what the company made and (most are) common enough that they should not be too dear, too important or too unique for us collectors to part with them.
Thanks again Jim for the postcards.
For the rest of the members, how about donating that "usual," common Elgin. If its a railroad standard from the list above, so much the better!
I have a movement that I would like to donate. The plates are in good condition but it is not currently running.
I can send the movement directly to the museum. Or... if another 185 member would like to refurbish the movement and provide an appropriate case, I can send it to the member before it goes to the museum.
Here are the movement details:
BW Raymond, Grade 70, s/n 336419, circa 1875
This is a transitional movement so it is either KW or SW.
I have a clean Silveroid case.
Anyone with hands to spare?
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