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Illinois Bunn Special 161 Family Questions "Click" to Login or Register 
IHC Member 2241
Hi All,

Just wondering about the Illinois 161 variants. Lots of 163 discussions but not as much info on the 161's.

According to Bill Meggers' Illinois Big Blue Book on Page 125 there are 8 variants. But I know errors have been found in the past. I am really wondering about #s 5 & 6 on the chart they provide. I have 1-4 and 7, know the 161B is out there, but have not seen or sniffed these other 2. Does anyone have them in their collections? They look like frankenwatches but probably would not be in the book if that was the case. So just wondering what folks smarter than me know about this. (adding images referenced below)

IHC Member 2241
1-3 (I have)


IHC Member 2241
4-6 (Have 4, wondering about 5 & 6)


IHC Member 2241
7 & 8 (Have 7 at least know 8 exists)


IHC President
Life Member
Picture of Lindell V. Riddle

Hello David,

Many of us view THE SEVEN STARS (grade numbered 23-Jewel movements marked as Grade 163) as we might "Muscle Cars" with high powered V-8 engines, they give us goose bumps, whereas the same make and model with a six cylinder engine might cause us to yawn. That might help explain the emphasis on the Grade 163-marked movements and on Sangamo Specials, the marked as 60-Hour movements versus those perceived as "lesser" models.

To your main question, here is a list of items 1-4 and 7 from my collection...

Item 1 numbered 5282233 (161A Type I / 1,000 produced)

Item 2 numbered 5282913 (161A Type II / 2,000 produced)

Item 3 numbered 5474084 (161A Type II-E / 3,150 produced)

Item 4 numbered 5497624 (161A Type II-B / 5,200 produced)

Item 7 numbered 5569843 (161A Type II-P / 10,050 produced)

As to those the late Bill Meggers shows as items 5 and 6 on page 125 of his big blue book, those are considered "factory errors" which would explain why they are not designated with a unique "Meggers type number" shown. (They are both are designated as "Type II-B which is what they were supposed to be.) Both of those are classified in my marginal notes as having a "one" beside them whereas with all the others my notes indicate the estimated production of each variant. Such production errors as we see on items 5 and 6 (some collectors use the term "factory freaks" to describe them) would also occur from time to time in other industries as well.

For example, I will cite one of the many parallels between the watch industry and the car industry. Recalling my time in the automobile business some years ago we occasionally were delivered new Plymouths with Dodge emblems on them and vice-versa, directly from the factory. Ford and GM dealers would also find incorrect emblems on their cars in models where more than one make of the same basic body style were assembled on the same production line. Obviously having a car with an incorrect emblem would not be more valuable than a correct example and I doubt any were retailed in that condition. In fact there were "Shortage and Error" forms used to obtain compensation for any needed parts or labor so dealers could order the correct emblems, wheel-covers or whatever, to then carefully replace anything incorrect that was originally placed with or on the car in error.

Finally, the Meggers item 8 on page 125 has "50" placed in my marginal notes, the true number is likely less. Those were a "test" as they considered selling Illinois-branded movements with pressed jewels like the 992B and 950B and other 1940-1970 Hamilton "B" movements. The last Illinois Grade 161 "Type II-P" movements sold in the late 1940s were factory equipped in Lancaster with Hamilton 992B "Elinvar Extra" balance wheels and hairsprings then shipped in Hamilton-marked cases.

By the way, a few years ago Steve Middlesworth and I came up with additional variations that Meggers apparently had not discovered. So we designated the 21 and 23-jewel "Type III" movements marked "Illinois Watch Co. / Springfield" as the "Type III-A" and the later ones signed "Illinois Watch / Springfield" (without the "Co." marking) as "Type III-B" movements in order to classify and understand the difference in those variants. (See "BUNN SPECIAL 23 JEWEL MOTOR BARREL 60 TYPE I, II AND III WITH "A" & "B" VARIANTS"

Important to remember, a fter Hamilton took over Illinois in January 1928 they gradually phased-out the "Illinois Watch Co." markings because Illinois was then known as the "Illinois Watch" Division of the Hamilton Watch Company.

One more thing, we now recognize all of the highly desirable Variant Dials as we have communication abilities at the ends of our fingers which were only dreamed of when Meggers was compiling information.


Hope this information is helpful to you and others,


IHC Life Member
Picture of Larry Lamphier
WOW!!!...I feel like I was back in SCHOOL tonight!

THIS one goes printed and kept in my "Illinois Watch Info" Folder!!

Thank you for taking the time to Help us understand these Illinois watches better Lindell! Smile

Best Regards,
IHC Member 2241
Thanks a lot for the valuable info, much appreciated!

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