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- Watch & Clock Bulletin
- Mart & Highlights
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Mart & Highlights
Check availability in their Online Library Catalog or
the Lending Library book list.
Kathleen Pritchard, one of the world’s foremost horological researchers, compiled the first authoritative and complete encyclopedia of Swiss watch and clock manufacturers. The two volumes cover 200 years and entries are alphabetically listed.
Entries include the following: names of makers, founders, spin-off companies from the same family, dates, types of timepieces made, important peripheral information, informational sources, geographic location of the company, variations in the company’s name, brand and model names, U.S. import codes, trademarks, and a history of the company.
The Willards were the premier clockmaking family in New England between 1766 and 1870. They represent the aristocracy of the makers, and their work and influence spanned three generations.
Benjamin, Simon, Ephraim, and Aaron were the first generation of clockmakers. Simon was an innovator, inventor, and dreamer. His Improved Timepieces, commonly known today as banjo clocks, are generally considered to be his most important contribution to the technology and design of American clocks.
The Willards made tallcase clocks first. Subsequent clocks included the following: 30-hour Grafton wall clocks and Massachusetts shelf clocks; gallery and tower clocks; and lighthouse and skeleton clocks.
Erastus Hodges was the sixth generation of Hodges in America. His father, Elkana, was a medical doctor; typically, doctors had another profession (e.g., preacher). Elkana also had the vision of an entrepreneur. He was chief merchant in Torrington, CT, because he opened a store to market farmers’ produce, cheese, cider, and potash. Erastus inherited that visionary gift. His mother Rebecca was widowed at age 40, but she maintained all of her husband’s enterprises. In 1807 she willed everything to Erastus, who thrived on the sales and marketing of these products, especially cheese, which he sold as far south as Savannah, GA.
Always looking for a growth industry, Hodges entered the clockmaking industry in 1823 and used his sales and marketing experience for his cheese business to sell the wooden shelf clocks that were made in the factory that he owned. Hodges was familiar with the hazards of marketing goods in distant places: competitors with better and cheaper clocks, bartering, bad weather, and sickness. After some partnerships had failed, he closed his clock shop n 1859. He also was selling fabric, cotton, and brass collectors of wooden shelf clocks have given this little-known producer of clocks a place in history. To Hodges a clock was a product to be marketed like a brass pull or a box of cheese.
Charles Alvah Smith, Brattleboro, VT, was the complete clockmaker, making the entire clock: design, movement, case, dial, weights, hardware, and embellishments. In his retirement from 1931 to 1945, he made more than 600 clocks, primarily weight-driven wall timepieces. He gained nationwide acclaim for his eye-pleasing clocks after a complimentary article in The Saturday Evening Post in January 1944.
Smith was a mechanical genius who approached clockmaking with dedication and passion. He regularly wore a vest and tie while he worked in his workshop. He was obsessed with keeping records of everything, including his expenses, cars, hunting hobby, and clock materials and parts. At his death, his grand-nephew received all the tools from his workshop.
The authors provide a three-page chronology of the major events in the lives of Frederick A. Giles, his family and associates, and the Giles, Wales & Co. (a wholesale jewelry-importing business), which was the forerunner of the United States Watch Company in Marion, NJ.
Despite its founding in 1861 in New York City (during the Civil War and after the panic of 1857), the Giles, Wales & Co. was by 1863 able to convert its profits into additional working capital. The jewelry industry in New York City was expanding. Frederick made his first trip to Europe to make a deal in which his company would be the largest importer of the highest grade of Swiss watches. In 1865 the company entered the watch-manufacturing industry.
Eventually, the company was moved to New Jersey to a tract of land, which he called Marion after his wife. A series of partnerships failed, and Frederick’s health was declining. The bank foreclosed on the property in 1877, and Frederick died of tuberculosis in 1879. The factory was torn down in 1925.