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In an effort to help clarify some often misunderstood information on Bunn Special cases, let's look at the various Models and see what dates can be assigned to these desirable and increasingly valuable cases.
We have now the information of at least a good start to educate ourselves. As these watches have been switched (most times erroneously) over the last 70 years by a great many people, we now are trying to take our information and "make" a proper or as correct as possible example. While in no circumstance as I implying that we can "create" an ORIGINAL watch, I am advocating that we "should" try and make our watches (if obviously incorrect) as correct as possible in regard to information that is available. I am speaking of matching movement and case combinations TIMEWISE, as one would of course not want a 1932 case on a 1925 watch or vice-versus. I will start this off with what is known to me and am asking for other Illinois experts and collectors to contribute with ads, info or whatever you can contribute to help make this an accurate teaching aid for all of us ,as well as for future Illinois collectors.
BUNN SPECIAL CASES
First Model (Wadsworth) 1924-1932
28 Model (Keystone) 1928-1932
29 Model (Wadsworth) 1929-1932
107 Model (Keystone) 1932- ?
108 Model (Wadsworth) 1931- ?
118 Model (Star) 1935- ?
128 Model (Keystone) 1936- ?
173 Model (Keystone) 1930- ?
181 Model ( Fahy's ) 1929-1932
206 Model (Keystone) 1930-1932
These are the 10 Bunn Special Model Cases known to me. Let's continue by adding a few footnotes.
1) Don posted in March of 2004 on the Green board that in 1932 the 1st Model, 28, 29, 181 and 206 Model cases were discontinued. So I want to give thanks and credit to his posting of this first thing. This is valuable information as it puts a useful ending time frame on these cases which we did not know before his post. Note this is half ( 5 of 10 ) of the Models discontinued in the very same year right in the depths of the Great Depression. Times were rough indeed.
2) I make mention of the 28 Model case being introduced in 1928 rather than 1929 as the Illinois book states. We know there are several errors there on page 49 as... A) They call the new 60 HR watch a model 11 which is wrong, it is a model 13,... B) They state the 23 Jewel Bunn Specials were cased for the first time in 1929 but only in the 28 case, which is wrong on both accounts as we have pictures and proof of Boxes for 23 Jewel Bunn Specials from late 1926 and they were cased in First Model cases as that was the only Bunn Special case model available at that time . With all due respect to the late Bill Meggars, he admitted to me in the late 1990's they did the very best they could do on the Illinois book but there were/are indeed errors, so my hat is off to him for all his hard work and modesty!
3) I do not know when the other case Models were discontinued, I am hoping YOU can provide that information for the rest of us. I suspect the 107, 108 and 173 were discontinued in the 1930's at some point due to VERY slow sales. This would be a logical deduction. The 118 and 128 I suspect continued on into the 1940's but these are just my guesses at this point. We do know that in 1947 some late, late Bunn Specials were cased in Wadsworth #3 (2-Tone Bar Over Crown) cases.
4) Some good info for folks on the Bunn Special cases is that the Yellow (and sometimes Rose) cases are 10K Gold Filled and equivilant to a 20 year case, while the Green cases, the White cases and the 2-Tone cases were 14K Gold Filled and equivalent to 25 year cases and of course added 5 dollars more to the retail price of a Bunn Special watch when new. It should be stated that the 2-Tone cases are ALWAYS Green Frame, Green Bow and Green Crown with a White Back and Front Bezel. They are NOT Yellow and White. This is confusing to many people.
5) The rarest "Model" would be the 206 as it was only produced a very short 3 years according to our research for some unknown reason. The most common Model is of course the First Model, produced for around 9 years.
6) The most "desirable" Bunn Special cases in today's Market are the " 2-Tone " Factory Pattern Back 173's, 28's and 206's. A close, second choice would be Factory Pattern back cases of singular color in these models with the most desirable color being green followed by white and then yellow. Following very closely in desirability for 3rd choice are the plain back 2-Tone cases of the same models and next would probably be of course the plain green cases in any Model. They are somewhat uncommon, especially in comparison to yellow and hard to find in good condition. Also remember it is the very best condition cases that everyone is after, as none of these cases raise much attention when worn out. For example a 95% or better condition case is worth twice as much as a 90% example as high end collectors are very critical and picky in regards to these.......AND for what it is worth I have NEVER held, seen, heard of or even had the most remote "smell" of a SOLID GOLD Bunn Special case. So if you EVER see one of those it is uncharted territory FOR SURE and the price will reflect the same.
7) The Wadsworth cases are now "Dateable" by our Database which will continue to grow as other examples show up that "look" correct.
The Keystone cases cannot be specifically dated except to timeframe of production as Hamilton acquired the rights to Howard and Keystone in 1930 and serial numbers are all over the map making no logical or chronological sense. I. E. collectors can get away with about anything on recasing or switching on these and most of the high condition examples are going on the rare and valuable 163 Variants as you can imagine.
Nothing will work with a Star 118 or Keystone 128 due to the late production timeframe except a late run 161A or 163A for obvious reasons.
Finally the 181 Fahy's Model cases CAN be specifically dated, but I am saving that for later when we get caught up with more examples from that database. They will be few but enough to show and verify correct year by year (1929-1932) examples.
This is all I have for now, so any help from any of you will be greatly appreciated. Happy Hunting!
Mike......THANK YOU....for sharing this invaluable information. I will be putting this information to work immediately!
There is no doubt that this information will aid in Illinois collecting, now and forever.....Robert
I have seen several first model cases (usually green gold filled) on 23 jewel 60 hour Bunn Specials from about 1930. I wondered if these were factory original as I have never seen catalog illustrations. Any opinions?
William, we now know for a fact the 23J 60Hr was factory cased in 1st Model cases as early as 1926. That said, I am sure the 1st Model took a back seat as other models were introduced . Of course we know also that the 1st Model was not discontinued until 1932 and in the wake of the Great Depression if there was a last minute 1st Model case still on the self that was unused I am sure they would have placed it on whatever was to be sold. They surely would have cared less at this point in 1932 with the Illinois plant in Springfield closing that fall, the main concern I am sure was sales and as long as it sold I am sure any case would do if it were laying there on the shelf. As time wore on through the '30's we see further evidence of this as many cases for the Bunn Sp. were in fact not even marked. We today, on the other hand, obsess over which case is "right" for which watch when in fact there is limited information except what we have here to decide that for ourselves.
I have seen some 23J type III's that I , myself , felt were original and in first model cases from around early 1928. We can never know for sure without a matching box and/or original paperwork. The main thing is to determine whether the case and movement "jive" with each other in timeframe and are "non argumentative". However, let me be the first to point out that as this new information is available for the first time here on 185 for the whole world to see, one thing is sure to happen.....a whole lot more "non argumentative" watches are sure to be "created" and show up, ha!.......ahh......Happy "Is It Original?" Hunting!
Below is an advertisement of the Model #173 from October, 1928.
This could change Meggers start date for #173 from 1930 to late 1928 or arlier.
As you mentioned in one of your previous posts, these ads really serve to tell the real story.
Thank you for all the Bunn Special numbers that you have donated to this chapter for our use.
Hi Robert....I do not see 173 mentioned in the ad. Could this be a model 28 instead?....Robert
That's what i am thinking too.... they are very similar cases.......
Here is the #28, notice the difference?
And the #173....
hmmmmmmmmm verrrrrrry interestinggggg...........
One more to be updated. The model #206 image below from Oct. 1930. This one was also in the previous month (Sept.) edition.
This advertisement is for a retailer, "Diamond Jewelry Co", 306 S. Main St. Tulsa, OK
Notice the 25 year guarantee on the case!
For Robert Sweet, Thanks so much for posting these ads . They are fantastic. ....AND you are on target to point out the differences, HOWEVER, let me point out some info that very few people in Illinois collecting have realized. It takes many years of handling these cases to realize this fact that I am getting ready to tell you.
This is in regard to the #28 and #173 cases. I have tried explaining this to a few people but it doesn't seem to sink in without pictures. A model 28 case and a 173 case are exactly the same case just Renumbered or Marked differently. Just as a Type III 23J watch is the same as a 163 except for the marking. Let me explain.
There are actually (2) TWO # 28 cases and 2 TWO #173 cases. Just like in the First Model Cases where the yellow case has a different bow and bezel pattern from the white or green cases the 28's and 173's do so as well. No book has ever explained this and when they show a picture of one style or the other and call it whatever Model it only serves to confuse. Now stay with me, it's not that complicated.
The YELLOW case is ALWAYS always 10K gold filled and has the reeded bezel, scrolled engraved shoulders and plain center section bow. There are Yellow #28's and Yellow 173's and they are EXACTLY exactly the same, and just like your ad shows but it is the marking only that is different. That's right, only the marking alone in the back is what makes it either a 28 or 173! That's simple right? How do I know? Well owning a few dozen of each over the last 35 years of collecting and after handling a few hundred or so over the years, I picked up on the fact that they were in fact the same cases only marked differently.
The white, and /or green cases as well as the green and white 2 Tone cases are 14K Gold Filled cases and have the fancier diamond pattern around the back and bezel with matching design on the bow and a winglike design engraved in the shoulders. Again, these are better 25 year cases whether in white or green or 2 tone and are IDENTICAL to each other except for what MODEL number Keystone put in them! Now why would that be?
The answer is that Hamilton acquired the rights to Keystone in 1930 and did something that made no sense to anyone except to them, they simply renumbered the case! Either of these 28 or 173 cases, whatever the color are in effect the same case but are simply marked either #28 or #173 depending on when they were made. Just remember the REEDED bezel STYLE on either a 28 or a 173 is always Yellow. I have had both in my collection and have had opportunity to compare side by side. The fancier DIAMOND bezel and bow pattern is ALWAYS the 25 year 14K gold filled white, green or 2 tone case. Again, I have owned both in my collection and examined them side by side.
A final couple of notes of interest on these cases. The #28's usually have a 9 million range serial number and the later 173's usually have a 7 million number range for some reason. Again, a Hamilton change and they used an earlier serial number just to confuse us, ha!
Second note is that just to confuse things, I will now make mention that there are actually 2 types of the YELLOW #28's. The first one is rather early, very uncommon and has a teardrop or as Lindell calls it a "droopy" bow, because it extends downward or "droops" down beside pendant on both sides. The second YELLOW 28 has a bow is exactly like the one pictured in your first ad. Hope this will help and not confuse anyone. Just keep reading this until it makes sense, it will sink in eventually.
I was wondering when this topic would come up and I would get the opportunity to do some more lengthy typing, ha!.....Just remember, the case Model is whatever and only whatever it is Marked! So I hope you can see that the difference in style and pattern does not tell you which case Model it is but what QUALITY of case it is , i.e. whether it is a 10K or 14K gold filled (20 or 25 year) case and of course some would say the color will always tell you. Yellow is always the cheaper 20 year case with the less fancy design. Note that in your 2O6 ad they state 25 year case and it is descibed as WHITE or GREEN...... NOT YELLOW, yellow is always the cheaper case, 28 or 173 it will always have the reeded bezel IF it is yellow..... 28 or 173 it will always have the Diamond bezel IF it is white, green or 2 tone. Period. Same cases if they are the same color , only the marking has been changed.
So, to put this info to exercise we can say your first picture is of a YELLOW 10K gold filled case. Is it a 28 or a 173? It can in fact be EITHER one depending on what is STAMPED inside the case back! Your second picture is what? Answer: The case is a 25 year 14K gold filled case and will be either white, green or 2 tone as the ad is black and white so we don't know. Now, is it a 28 or a 173? OF COURSE! It can be either one, depending on what those rascals at Keystone stamped inside the back of it depending on Illinois at first and then Hamilton's request. ONE more time, they are the SAME cases! ONLY the markings were changed. Whew! I'm tired but wanted to be crystal clear on this seldom known fact! Ha!
Additionally , thanks for the Great 206 AD which will fine tune us on introduction date!! This IS the kind of help we are looking for! I will revise my post to make the year of intro on it 1930 rather than 1931. Proof of yet another mistake in the Illinois book! But.... I know Meggars is smiling on all this! Anyway, thanks again, Robert and hope this helps... Happy "Now what number is this case?" Hunting!
Here is page 21 from the 1928-29 Hamilton-Illinois Catalog courtesy of Lindell V. Riddle...
Note the case is not numbered, only identified by 'knurled' and 'engraved'..
Thank you very much for your very in-depth discussion of these cases.
I noticed they always failed to include the case model # in their ads. Now we know why.
I believe what you have explained in your post is only known by very few collectors and will educate many.
Again, thanks for setting the record straight.
Robert, It is a pleasure to post here and share information with serious collectors and enthusiasts.
Terry, GREATTTTTTTTT AD! I just love those words..."Knurled" and "Engraved" and I will start using them myself when speaking of these cases from now on, thanks so much for your timely post, which as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, which is about what my post had to be to explain, ha!
I also find of distinct interest the Catalogue No.'s they assigned to each case. I.E. 2511 for the Green and 2512 for the 2-tone and 2513 for the White which are all 14K GF as we were saying and finally 2515 for the lesser 10K GF Yellow "Knurled" Model.
As everyone is realizing now these Ads never mentioned the Model number. That is the point that confused collectors for the last 70 years. Glad I was able to find enough of them over the years that the light bulb came on for me and that I was able to share this info with everyone.
Also note that the Aluminum boxes were still available in this ad ! Great stuff and thanks again, Happy Hunting!
Another nice advertisement from Aug. 1930. It's difficult to tell which case is being displayed, but they are calling it a #28 "combination", so its probably the tu-tone case.
Robert, NIce.... first ad I have seen that references a design tied to a 'watch'..... interesting indeed..
We would have to 'assume' that the case pictured is a 28 because of the mention in the ad... .... and yes, i would say tu tone...
Mike....No wonder I could not tell the difference in a 28 and a 173. Except for the droopy bow 28. One question.....Did they make the droopy bow 28 in white g/f?. I have never seen one....Robert
Another great ad , Robert! This Simmons Ad I think is saying, 2 tone chain designed especially for the 2 tone #28, so yes , I agree! Nice to see they are showing the better quality 14K GF #28 with the "Engraved" bezel and bow which confirms that some of the 28's were indeed made this way without me having to show a picture of one of mine, ha!
Additionally the droopy bow that Robert Smothers is asking about was available for a short time and then discontinued for unknown reasons and was made only in Yellow. So it is a fairly scarce case and a hard one to find in better condition. I have had a couple of them but they were on 163 IR's from 1930. Don't know if this is of any significance but am mentioning it for the sake of trivia as I felt both watches had the look and feel of being original. Of course one can never know with these Keystone cases with their illogical serial numbers all over the map.
Keep 'em coming, Robert, you have quite a wealth of ads there in those Magazines! You're doing a great job of digging 'em out too, I might add! Just Great stuff! Now if I can just find one of those 2 tone chains to go with my watch...ahhhhhh..that's going to take a while I'll bet! Happy "Now Looking for that darn Chain" Hunting!
Here is the rare "Droopy Bow" case with pattern back...
This advertisement is from Dec. 1929, displaying the Bunn Special, Tu-Tone "Engraved" model.
Wish this was in color!
Great finds Robert.
Order one of those chains for me.
Looking at that December 1929 advertisement, perhaps we need to put all this in context of the times.
The Great Depression hit in November of 1929 when in a matter of days half the nation's wealth had been wiped out and factory doors were closing, many of them forever. We cannot in the farthest reaches of our imagination have any idea what it was like to persevere and survive those overwhelming challenges of the years that followed.
For students of history here is a Timeline...
America's Great Depression 1929-1941 in historical context.
Below, the First Model Cases from 1928-29 Catalog...
Thanks. I really enjoy posting these old advertisements. Hopefully others will follow with more ads.
I appreciate your really nice catalog image.
Thanks for the nice image and "Depression" link. I find these "Depression Era" advertisements very interesting and educational.
Here we have the Keystone Model #107 from June 1934.
If you were in need of a "Bow" for your "First Model" in the mid-30's, it could be had for only $.75 in yellow, green, or white!
Thanks for sharing the "droopy" 28 with us Lin, such a fabulous case with that "purse" pattern! A whopping 2 dollars extra in 1930 you know and that was back when bread was 2 cents a loaf , so big money back then for this rare and desirable factory engraving. Additionally thanks for the First Model Ads!
Robert, again, another Fantastic ad for the 107 from 1934! Interesting for sure on the bows as well, however I am sure we all know , that if one ordered a yellow bow back then it would have been the one without the notch or "hump" in the middle (see the First model Ad).
It is ads like these you guys are contributing that is absolutely "making" this thread. It adds so much spice and flavor for me and I am sure, for all the other Illinois fans as well. I can post with all kinds of information until I'm blue in the face and while that is all fine and good, it is this "eyes on" experiece that makes this the best place to come and "talk" watches! Fantastic job from all of you! I applaud your efforts and thankyou for helping me to make this thread "come to life". Wow! Just Wow!
Here we have the Keystone "Engraved Model" at top center, Wadsworth model #29 lower left, and Fahy's model #181 bottom right, from Jan. 1930.
Another nice Ad and what I find impressive about this one is how full the bows are on these cases. While I have several 28's and 173's that are like new, and as pictured, I have never had a 181 that I would rate as 98% or better. It would truely be a prize for me to find a 181 case in condition as the one pictured here. Again, thanks for sharing, Robert and as well to Kent! A few more Ads and we might have all the 10 Bunn case Models covered. Hope we are lucky enough to find or see some more!
This chart represents the known "Bunn Special Factory Cases" which is the topic of this discussion.
Not included in this chart is the Hamilton #3 (Tu-Tone) and Hamilton #12 which was used in the late 40's to case the last of the Bunn Special inventory.
Also not included in this chart are the cases described in Mike's other topic "Introducing the Complete Factory Cased Bunn Special Without a Bunn Special Case".
(Note #1) Please read Mike Chamelin earlier post of March 21, 2006 04:01 to completely understand the model #28 and #173 cases.
That is a great chart Robert, it will be a very big help to all of us as Bunn Special collectors.
Thanks for all you do to help us out.
Also, does anyone have a time line on the domed vs. flathead case screws used on 16s Bunn Specials?....Robert
Here we have the Keystone Model #128, the last of the factory cases to be introduced and that being in 1936.
Please note the "In Arrows" (pre-Hamilton) dial on this very late case.
A Great Chart, you provided for us Robert, and another nice, nice Ad as well.
In answer to Robert Smothers's question on the case screws. You will find this a Hamilton change as well, that around the same time frame they changed from the purple Illinois hands to the blue Hamilton hands in late 1928/ early 1929, the case screws change from domed to flat head as well. One can expect to see them both ways in 1928 as old supplies of the domed screws were used up. (Another reason so many of the later Marked 60 Hour Sangamo Specials had those flat head screws as well, they too were finished in the late 20's/ very early '30's.) By the time of the 161's and 163's in 1930 and going forward, the flat head screws were used exclusively.
I must admit this has been a fun thread for me and I must continue to add special thanks to Robert Sweet for ALL his hard work and great Ad contributions! Happy "All Case Models" Hunting!
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