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Ball-Howard Watches, Distinctive 1890s Beauty
Before there were "Official Rail-Road Standard" watches, those would be introduced as Ball-Hamiltons during the 1895 production year, there were previously Ball Standard Watches from several other companies.
Ranking high among the most interesting and highly sought after by collectors today are the Ball-Howards which were produced as both "BofLE" Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and "ORC" Order of Railway Conductors models. These Ball-Howards which comprised of both Open-Face and Hunter-Cased movements were finished beginning in April 1893 and apparently only a total of 200 movements were produced.
According to records compiled by our IHC 185 Member Harold Visser the Ball-Howard Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers example shown below which is from my collection was finished July 27, 1893 and shipped to Ball and Company on May first of the following year. Apparently these sold slowly as the last movements, finished July 17, 1896 were not shipped to Ball until April 2, 1897 which was four years after the project began.
It is important to see both the examples shown below are housed in 14 Karat Solid Gold Cases specially made to house these movements by Jeannot & Shiebler and signed Webb C. Ball, Cleveland, Ohio.
• IMPORTANT NOTE... inserted September 30th 2015:
If you are looking to buy a Ball-Howard, you must exercise extreme caution, the dials fit only a Ball-Howard, the hands are exclusive and there are modified cases out there, even incorrect cases with odd, hand applied signatures.
Every one of the Ball-Howard movements were shipped directly to Ball & Company, all of the records exist today in the hands of IHC Member Harold Visser that show the dates that each and every Ball-Howard was shipped to Ball & Company and they PROVE that NONE of the Ball-Howards were shipped to ANY other entity. Like the information shown here for this Ball-Howard and the one that follows, please read both the descriptions very, very carefully.
The Ball-Howards (and for that matter ALL domestically produced 18-size Ball Watches were ALL cased and timed in Cleveland at the Ball Facility and if anyone wanted a Ball-Howard in a Solid Gold case Ball would have supplied it in a marked as Webb C. Ball case made specifically for them by Jeannot & Shiebler like you see as proven above by number 307473 from my collection depicted and detailed in the description shown above here.
QUOTING: "According to records compiled by our IHC 185 Member Harold Visser the Ball-Howard Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers example shown below which is from my collection was finished July 27, 1893 and shipped to Ball and Company on May first of the following year."
NOTICE the... "shipped to Ball and Company" ...they were PATENTED BALL WATCHES and the movements produced by various companies of origin were shipped ONLY to Ball in Cleveland where they were finished, adjusted to positions, cased, timed and shipped.
Carefully examine the 2 watches shown herein, these movements, hands, dials and cases are 100% correct on both these watches.
Early today it was inaccurately stated on the website of a well-known auction venue...
"that Ball did not necessarily case any mvt (sic) prior to sale, as he sold mvts (sic) alone as all companies did"
...and of course THAT STATEMENT IS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS as Ball was the first retailer to "case and time all movements prior to sale" as proven by the many surviving Advertisements stating that very important fact. We who are serious Ball Watch collectors collect those ads, many of which are reproduced in this forum and others reproduced in various periodicals, ***** Bulletins, here on IHC and other internet venues. We know as a basic fact that from 1865 forward Ball personnel cased and timed their Railroad Watches in-house and in accordance with their oft-stated policy. Exception for discontinued Ball-Queens (many of which went into Wristwatch cases) and "Commercial Standards" discounted to their authorized dealers, otherwise THEY DID NOT sell individual movements!
Ball constantly stressed this fact... "Many good watches are ruined as timekeepers by being forced into cheap, imperfect cases that do not fit properly. We have had (meaning they have encountered) some sad results in this direction, and so we avoid such dangers by sending out complete watches only" ...simply stated BALL SOLD COMPLETE WATCHES ONLY, NO INDIVIDUAL UN-CASED MOVEMENTS like other companies and Ball Watch Movements were NOT cased prior shipment to Ball, to the contrary, the movements were shipped to Ball where they were finished, the dials and hands applied, ALL POSITIONAL ADJUSTMENTS completed, then the movements were carefully CASED AND TIMED at Ball Watch Company in Cleveland, Ohio and ONLY at the Ball Watch Company facility.
THOSE ARE THE SIMPLE, PREVIOUSLY UNDISPUTED FACTS (UNTIL DISPUTED AT A WELL-KNOWN AUCTIONEER"S WEBSITE TODAY) THAT HAVE STOOD THE TEST OF TIME FOR MORE THAN A HUNDRED YEARS!
Bottom line, anyone claiming to the contrary (particularly claiming a Ball-Howard 307436 in a "Hayden W. Wheeler" case is in any way "ORIGINAL") are either uninformed or sadly misinformed about Ball Watches. If anyone attempts to sell you that watch as "original" be advised it is a put-together watch and that depresses value dramatically.
Our Ball Watch Company Research Forum is dedicated to sharing information about Ball Watch Company and its products.
Here's a view of Ball-Howard 307473 dial and hands...
Movement view of 307473 showing all the markings...
Jeannot & Shiebler case was made for Webb C. Ball...
The example that follows is the Ball-Howard Order of Railway Conductors that sold at the Jones and Horan Auctions for $21,000.00 on November 19th of this year. It is also housed in a beautiful 14 Karat Solid Gold Case made specifically for Webb C. Ball by Jeannot & Shiebler and it is important to realize they are truly the only accepted correct cases. There are only a few Ball-Howard watches left today in correct cases, two are shown here, enjoy both of them my friends!
According to Harold Visser's Howard records, this ORC movement number 307442 was finished on April 26, 1895 and shipped to Webb C. Ball and Company on May 7th of that same year. Comparing that information to the BofLE movement above one can immediately realize the folly of thinking watch movements were necessarily finished in chronological order.
Be sure to notice the distinctive hands we find on both these watches. Understand the styles of hands on each of these watches are unique and they are indeed entirely correct for their respective brotherhood movements. It goes without saying that such important features add greatly to the value of these watches and to the fascination we as collectors have with them.
Here's Ball-Howard 307442 showing dial and hands...
Movement view of 307442 showing all the markings...
The beautiful Solid-Gold case made for Webb C. Ball...
I just finished reading the 4 Railroader's Corner columns on Ball in the 2002 Bulletins.
In their discussion of the Ball-Howards, they did not have an example of an ORC to show with the correct dial.
Lindell , is that " ORC " SLANTED script on this Howard common being slanted ? I've never seen that before .
[RESPONSE TO PETE: The few Ball-Howard ORC Movements I have seen are the only use of that design I am aware of, these are "height-of-cool" watches! Everything about them is special. Regards, Lindell ]
That it is Pete, an unusual and exclusive feature, every detail of these are special.
More 18-size Ball Watches are shown in these topics...
Ball-Howard, 1890s Beauty
Early Ball-Hamilton 18-size Images
Ball-Elgin (all were 18-size) Images
Later Ball-Hamilton 18-size Images
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