Internet Horology Club 185
Shadow Box of Illinois Watch Companies

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April 27, 2008, 22:22
John J. Flahive III
Shadow Box of Illinois Watch Companies
I have finally finished a project I have been working on all winter. It is a shadow box displaying keywind pocket watches from watch companies in operation in Illinois in 1870s and 80s. I just love these big, shiny watches. I got the first one, a Cornell, from my Grandfather and bought the rest on-line. I built this to honor my Grandfather who worked on the railroads in Illinois and collected watches.

The watch companies represented here are Illinois Watch Company, Elgin Watch Company, Aurora Watch Company, Rockford Watch Company, and Cornell Watch Company. I also want to add a Peoria Watch Company example at some point.

The watches are all keywind/keyset with the watch company or city name on the dial and movement. Each watch has a full plate gilded movement and a plain 3-5 oz coin silver case. The exception is the Aurora which has a Silveroid case.

The shadow box is 37" tall, 25" wide, and 3 1/2 inches deep. Behind the watches is a reproduction railroad map of Illinois from 1898 by Rand McNally. I have hung the watches near the cities where each of the watch factories was located. For obvious reasons, most are near Chicago.

The only item left for me to complete is to get a piece of glass fit that will slide in from the right. That and find a Peoria that is within my budget. Wink

I hope you enjoy the shadow box and the watches.

John III

April 27, 2008, 22:23
John J. Flahive III
Map Details

April 27, 2008, 22:29
John J. Flahive III
Closeup of the Chicago area. I grew up in Joliet, Ill which is to the right of the bow of the bottom watch.

April 27, 2008, 22:31
John J. Flahive III
And we can't forget my favorite, Illinois Watch Company, all the way down in Springfield.

April 27, 2008, 22:33
John J. Flahive III
Here is the dial of the Elgin

April 27, 2008, 22:36
John J. Flahive III
And the movement, G.M. Wheeler Grade, serial no. 302051, which dates the watch to about 1872.

The watch is housed in a 3 oz D&Co (Dueber?), coin silver case, serial no. 63271.

More pictures of the remaining watches after I get new camera batteries.

John III

April 28, 2008, 06:07
Phillip Sanchez
Very nice John. May I suggest? When you contact the glass company, buy treated glass, a lot safer around the boys. Post the watch you need for Peoria and I will keep an eye out. Smile
April 28, 2008, 08:40
Dr. Debbie Irvine


You did a wonderful job on your project. What a nice tribute to your grandfather as well!

Thanks for sharing those photos with us.


May 24, 2008, 01:14
Larry Buchan
Very nice display of Illinois Horological History, and a Fitting Tribute to Your Grandfather
May 24, 2008, 13:29
Brian C.
Nice job John.
On your D&Co. case, it stands for Duhme & Co. The book says they started in the watch case business in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1871. They made both gold and silver cases. In 1872 they purchased the business of Frank Doll. By 1889, they employed about sixty-five workers, and were making some 5,000 watch cases a year.
Brian C.
November 24, 2008, 16:55
Steve Gossard
What a great idea. I've been collecting Illinois watches for a long time, myself, but never thought to display them this way. All you need now is a Peoria. Great work!
November 24, 2008, 16:56
Steve Gossard
Oh, yes, and don't forget Westclox. They made dollar watches, but they made a lot of them. I think they were an important company.