Pocket Horology

“Pocket Horology” is the name of a former national interest chapter of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors that I founded in the mid 1990’s.  That chapter was dedicated to promoting scholarly research into the history and collecting of antique mechanical pocket watches, which I myself have researched, collected, and written about for over thirty years.

(To see some of the horological research the chapter fostered, go to http://ph.nawcc.org/.  To see even more, join the NAWCC, so you can access past issues of the NAWCC BULLETIN.)

And so I have titled this page of my blog after my old chapter, in honor of my many friends, living and deceased, who called the Pocket Horology chapter their horological home, and who contributed to its accomplishments.

On this page, you can find some of my writing on Early American and Civil War watches.  I would be pleased to also make my website available to friends who may have their own horological research to contribute.  I have previously published a book and a number of essays on these subjects, and I will be collecting some of them here.

Presentations

Please enjoy these presentations:

Watch my blog for updates as I continue to add presentations.

 Past Publications

NAWCC Members can access the publications listed below by logging into: https://nawcc.org/, and following the PUBLICATIONS/Watch & Clock Bulletin/Past Issues links.

  1. “E. Howard & Company Watch Dials,” NAWCC BULLETIN, Vol 35/4, No. 285 (August, 1993).
  2. “A Guide to Cases for E. Howard & Company Watches,” NAWCC BULLETIN, No. 295 (April, 1995).
  3. “A Civil War Watch,” in the Research Activities and News section, NAWCC BULLETIN, Vol. 37/4, No. 297 (August, 1995).
  4. “Some Unusual E. Howard & Company Watches,” NAWCC BULLETIN, No. 310 (October, 1997).
  5. “The Priceless Recollections of a Few: Eugene T. Fuller 1932-1999,” NAWCC BULLETIN 322 (October, 1999).
  6. “The Origin and Evolution of the E. Howard & Company Divided Plate Keywind Movement,”  NAWCC BULLETIN, No. 324 (February, 2000).
  7. “Boston: Cradle of Industrial Watchmaking: The 23rd Annual NAWCC Seminar,” NAWCC BULLETIN, No. 338 (June, 2002).
  8. Harold Visser and Clint B. Geller, “Private Label Movements and Dials for Webb C. Ball, by E, Howard & Co.,” NAWCC BULLETIN, Vol.46, # 351, (August, 2004).
  9. Harold Visser and Clint B. Geller, “ Howard & Co. ‘Railroad’ Watches,” in the RailRoader’s Corner Column, NAWCC BULLETIN, # 352, (October, 2004).
  10. Harold Visser and Clint Geller, “E. Howard & Co. Watch Movement Production Totals,” on-line article on the NAWCC Chapter 174 (Pocket Horology) website, circa 2004.
  11. “Boston: Cradle of Industrial Watchmaking,” based on the proceedings of the 23rd Annual NAWCC Seminar (now called the Ward Francillon Time Symposium), held in Boxboro, MA, in October 2002, chaired by Clint Geller.  Introduction to the volume by Clint Geller;  NAWCC BULLETIN Special Order Supplement No. 5 (2005).
  12.  “A Study of E. Howard & Co. Watchmaking Innovations, 1858-1875,” NAWCC BULLETIN Special Order Supplement No. 6 (2005).
  13. “Reed Serial #4,” NAWCC BULLETIN, No. 360. (February, 2006).
  14. “E. Howard & Co. Divided-Plate Key Wind Movement Serial Number 349: First Run,” NAWCC BULLETIN, No. 364 (October, 2006).
  15. Coauthored with Chris Abell, “An Early Experimental E. Howard & Co. Watch,” NAWCC BULLETIN, Vol. 49, #369 (August 2007).
  16. “Some Thoughts on Originality & Restoration of Watches,” NAWCC BULLETIN, #382 (October, 2009).

2002 NAWCC National Seminar On-Line Exhibit

The 2002 NAWCC National Seminar, entitled “Boston: Cradle of Industrial Watchmaking,” held in Boxboro MA, was the first of two national seminars that I chaired.   The 2002 seminar included one of the best on-site exhibits of of early American watches ever mounted.  It was superior both by virtue of the items it included, and because of the manner in which they were presented and explained with signage and informative literature.  Here is a link to the on-line catalog for the “E. Howard & Co.” portion of the exhibit.

Current Horological Research Project – September, 2018 Update

New Book:

I have completed my latest book, entitled, “The Appreciation & Authentication of Civil War Timepieces,” which will be published by the NAWCC in the Spring of 2019.  This piece is intended to stand as the definitive work on the subject of how and why to collect Civil War watches. The work is nearly 76,000 words long with  150 figures, 12 tables, 146 references, and a 66 book bibliography.  About half horology and half civil war history, this book will equip readers with the tools to make informed judgments concerning the authenticity of civil war timepieces and the provenances sometimes associated with them.  The book also endeavors to impart a basic understanding of the importance in American history of the events to which these artifacts relate, and to make the stories of the men whose names appear on some of these watches live for a new group of admirers.

New NAWCC Bulletin Article:

“Watch Presented to Brigadier General William Jackson Palmer by the Officers of the 25th Pennsylvania Cavalry,” will appear in the NAWCC BULLETIN next Spring, just before the Civil War Watch exhibit opens on July 6, 2019.

E. Howard & Company Watch Product Wiki in the NAWCC Message Board “Encyclopedia” Section

I wrote this wiki for the NAWCC several years ago, and it probably remains the best compact primer on the products of the original Howard watch company on the web.  (Note: this wiki covers only the products of the original Howard watch manufacturing organization – the maker of so called “early Howards” – which signed its watches “E. Howard & Co.,” and not the later “E. Howard Watch Co.” organization of Waltham, which shared a similar, though not identical, name.) While the wiki itself does not include watch images, the links provided there more than make up for this deficiency.  Recently, the Message Board software changed, but the few minor font incompatibilities that crept into the wiki in the process mostly have been fixed now.  The wiki may be found here:

https://mb.nawcc.org/wiki/E-Howard-and-Co

Online Forums

In addition to the NAWCC Message Board American Pocket Watches Forum, I am an active participant and a patron of the American Civil War Talk (CWT) website.  Of particular interest to readers of this page will be the CWT forum on Uniforms and Relics, which features numerous posts by yours truly on subjects related to Civil War timekeepers and timekeeping.

The first thread I initiated on the CWT, which is in the Uniforms and Relics forum, provides a primer for the collecting of Civil War watches. (Readers may also wish to consult my two-part PDF presentation, linked above, in conjunction with the primer.)

Recent & Upcoming Events and Exhibits

Presentation at the Carnegie Library “Second Saturday” Civil War Lecture Series, Saturday, February 10, 2018, in Carnegie PA

I spoke at the “Second Saturday” Civil War Lecture Series at the Carnegie Library, in Carnegie, PA on Saturday, on February 10, 2018. See the flyer, here:

February 10 2018 2nd Sat Carnegie Lib Lecture flyer.

My talk, entitled “Why and How to Collect Civil War Timepieces, with Illustrative Examples,” was oriented to non-horological audiences whose primary interest is in Civil War history and artifacts.  I reviewed the role and prevalence of personal watches in Civil War armies, and the kinds and characteristics of watches carried by Civil War combatants.  The latter part of the talk focused on watches from my personal collection, their original owners, the units with which they served, and the battles in which they fought.  The watches were on display during and after my presentation.  After the talk, I  discussed watches that were brought by members of the audience with their owners.

The Carnegie Library of Carnegie PA is a majestic structure set on top of a prominent hill. The building houses the Civil War Room, where the Captain Thomas Espy Post #153 of the Grand Army of the Republic met for several decades after the Civil War.  Home to one of the last active GAR posts in the country, the room was sealed for the better part of a century after its last veteran died in 1937.  Today the room and its contents of original flags, books, prints, relics, and rare Lincoln photographs are spectacularly preserved, and are open to the public (please see their schedule for guided viewings).

My talk was an update and expansion of my earlier, “Collecting Civil War Watches” talk, shown above.

Civil War Timepieces Exhibit & Seminar at the NAWCC HQ Museum, July 2019

I will be guest-curating a special six-month exhibit on pocket watches of the Civil War at the NAWCC HQ Museum in Columbia, PA (just about 40 miles from the Gettysburg Battlefield), opening on Saturday, July 6, 2019.  The exhibit is entitled, “Timeless Testaments: Civil War Watches and the Men Who Carried Them.”  I am planning to kick it off with a one-day seminar on that day, but I can still use help planning and organizing it.  If you are interested, please contact me here.  Thanks.

2002 NAWCC Seminar

I had the honor of chairing and organizing the 2002 NAWCC National Seminar in Boxborough, Massachusetts. See my blog post, The 2002 NAWCC National Seminar, “Boston: Cradle of Industrial Watchmaking”, for more details. Also see the on-line catalog of the exhibit, which has since been further enlarged and enhanced.

Awards & Honors

NAWCC Fellow Award – 2003

NAWCC James W. Gibbs Award for Excellence in Literary Achievement in Horology – 2009