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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 highest 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 were comprised of both Open-Face and Hunter-Cased movements were finished beginning in April 1893 only a total of 200 movements were produced, today very few originally-cased examples survive.
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 only these movements by Jeannot & Shiebler and signed for Webb C. Ball, Cleveland, Ohio.
• IMPORTANT NOTE AND FRAUD ALERT... 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 entirely exclusive and BEWARE as there are modified cases out there, very incorrect cases and even worked-over cases some with false, hand applied signatures. There are but a handful of altogether correct examples, two of which are shown in this topic
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 housed it in a marked as Webb C. Ball case made specifically for them by Jeannot & Shiebler like you see as proven above by case number 295591 and movement 307473 from my collection detailed in the description above and in four images below this posting.
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 (in this instance we refer to Ball-Howards) were shipped ONLY to Ball in Cleveland where they were finished, adjusted to positions, cased and timed. (Shipments many years later included "BallCo" of Canada.)
Carefully examine the 2 watches shown in images herein, these movements, hands, dials and cases are 100% correct on both these watches.
Earlier today when trying to pass-off a Ball-Howard movement in an "HWW" Case 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"
...of course THAT STATEMENT IS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS AND COMPLETELY FALSE as Ball was the FIRST 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 also collect those ads, many of which are reproduced in this forum and others reproduced in various periodicals, including ***** 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. Exceptions for discontinued "Ball-Queens" (many of which were sold in Wristwatch cases) and "Ball Commercial Standards" discounted to their authorized dealers, but THEY DID NOT sell individual movements to any other entity!
Webb C. Ball constantly stressed this declaration... "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, on the contrary, bare 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 a Ball Watch Company facility which in later years would include BallCo of Canada in compliance with "Canadian Content" restrictions.
THOSE ARE THE SIMPLE, PREVIOUSLY UNDISPUTED FACTS (UNTIL DISPUTED AT AN AUCTIONEER"S WEBSITE TODAY 9-30-15) 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 movement 307436 in a "Hayden W. Wheeler" marked 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" please be advised it is a "put-together" watch and that fraudulent practice depresses the value of that particular watch dramatically. (SPECULATION: That "HWW" case under contention may have been sold originally with a lesser-grade Howard "N-size" movement, but NOT with any Ball-Howard movement!)
Our Ball Watch Company Research Forum is dedicated to sharing accurate information about the Ball Watch Company of Cleveland, Ohio and its products.
TRULY ORIGINAL Ball-Howard 307473 dial and hands...
Movement view of 307473 showing all correct markings...
Jeannot & Shiebler case specially-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 as 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 two 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 exceptionally rare Ball-Howards are "height-of-cool" watches! Everything about them is very 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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