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If only they could talk....... "Click" to Login or Register 
Watch Repair Expert
While many collectors find themselves engrossed in the history of watch companies, I've found myself increasingly interested in the more personal and individual histories of particular watches. As a case in point, the watch in the images below was purchased from a local estate, and the inscription in its back provided the name and address of the original owner.

With that info in hand, a short drive to Memphis Tennessee revealed that the watch's former place of residence appeared essentially unchanged from the Victorian era. The current residents weren't home, but an elderly neighbor was working in her yard, and I took advantage of the watch to assist with an introduction for a conversation.

As luck would have it, the lady was living in a home that had belonged to her parents, and she'd been a childhood friend of the owner's grand daughter. She provided me with an old family photo from around the turn of the century, on which was written the name of the owner, Henry Platte Allen, as well as that of his wife (Anna), and daughter (Bonnie). The neighbor noted that the family moved to North Little Rock, Arkansas, in the mid 1930s, shortly following Mr. Allen's death.

The Allen's daughter Bonnie married a businessman named John Massie, and together they had a daughter named Jean. Research revealed that Jean (Mr. Allen's grand daughter) married a MoPac RR man in 1940, but that they had no children, and she had no close relatives at the time of her death (thus, the estate sale).

The Allen's former neighbor recalled that Mr. Allen had worked as a railway express agent, although she wasn't sure for which railroad, and that he drove a sleek Whippet roadster that he kept in the tiny garage behind the house (it's still standing, although leaning about 10 degrees when I last saw it).

Although Mr. Allen and all of his descendents are gone, his watch is still faithfully ticking away the hours, just as it must have for him some 75 years ago. To me, that's an interesting "connection" with the past, and it's one of the many things that help keep horology so endlessly fascinating. When a watch that's less than 100 years old has that much history, imagine what one would have that dates from the 1700s, if only there was a way to research it!

To date, the history of this watch is one of the more interesting ones I've discovered, although I do have a few others in my collection about which I've gleaned lesser amounts. I'll be happy to provide more stories and images, if anyone's interested, but before I do, I'd like to invite anyone with similar interests and/or stories to share them!


Steve Maddox
President, NAWCC Chapter #62
North Little Rock, Arkansas
IHC Charter Member 49

Posts: 618 | Location: North Little Rock, Arkansas USA | Registered: December 05, 2002
Picture of Ted Steuernagel
Like you i wish watches could talk.Nice ending to your story
Posts: 335 | Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A. | Registered: November 23, 2002
IHC Member 234
Picture of Jim Cope
...fine story..would like to hear more like it...perhaps we should have a discussion topic devoted to such associations between watches and the people that owned and used them...I've always wanted, and enquired to the extent that I was able, to know more of the practical history of the
watches I've owned or wanted...there is much more to having a watch 'recollection' rather than merely a watch collection...Jim C
Posts: 872 | Location: Kingsville, Ontario, Canada | Registered: April 16, 2003
IHC Member 234
Picture of Jim Cope
...I guess we do have a 'discussion topic' as with the 'Time Zone...STORIES' feature...I for one will check the topic often for stories such as Steve related...Jim C
Posts: 872 | Location: Kingsville, Ontario, Canada | Registered: April 16, 2003
Picture of Jessica Lane
These stories do make the watches much more individual. That's why I like watches from the Lehigh Valley RR; although they mostly seem very expensive. Or from any of the towns around where I used to live. That's where private labels come in, although I suppose they went mostly to wealthier citizens or jewelers. When I lived there, the area was fairly depressed economically, although it must once have been quite active because coal and steel industries had beeb there--and apparently dixie cup and crayola. So I've learned something about the area that I didn't know. And also a chemical plant across the river which had a checkered history; I can't remember the name, maybe dow.

Posts: 834 | Location: New York, New York U.S.A. | Registered: September 06, 2003
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