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I have a fairly extensive collection of South Bend watches until recently never saw one referred to as a Trolley watch. Have always been impressed by the grade 217 with 17 jewels, lever set, 3 adjustments and the gilded lettering. Does anyone have documentation that the 217's were considered as a trolley grade watch?
Yes they were and yes we do have the documentation Bill,
Specific mention is in the South-Bend Watch Company "A Book of Beautiful Watches" published each year beginning in 1917 and at least as late as 1920 for which we also have a complete price list.
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Once there go to the CENTER COLUMN and find the 1917 Edition of "A Book of Beautiful Watches" wherein the GRADE 217 is first mentioned on Page 7 and very specifically again on Page 25 where it is described as "A VERY popular with street-car (another term for trolley-car) men..." and it continues with the best description of the Grade 217 that I recall ever reading.
As you pointed out, the 217 was a 17-Jewel, Lever-Set movement and it is worthwhile to mention that later South-Bend introduced their 219 which was a 19-Jewel Pendant-Set watch aimed at that same street-car, trolly, bus-driver market. Out of that design grew the 21-Jewel "Studebaker" Mail-Order Watch" (circa 1923-29) which would become their all-time best selling grade.
Those unfamiliar with what Bill and I are talking about, please go to our South-Bend Watch Company Research Forum and the monograph "SOUTH-BEND WATCHES, A HISTORY OF THE COMPANY AND THEIR PRODUCTS" for an in-depth study of the little-known (outside our hobby) but I think you will agree, very fascinating South-Bend Watch Company.
Thanks for the question Bill, hope my response is of help to you and others.
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