This 90+ year old Item is rated Near Mint / Very Fine. No tears. No water damage. Please note that there is some light blemishing on the right margin.
Elgin National Watch Company.
The Elgin National Watch Company, commonly referred to as simply the Elgin Watch Company, was a major American watchmaker from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, selling watches under the Elgin, Lord Elgin and Lady Elgin brands. From its incorporation, Elgin grew to become the largest watch manufacturer in terms of production in the United States, producing approximately one-half of the total number of high-quality pocket watches in America.
Incorporated in August 1864 as the National Watch Company, the Elgin Watch Company was founded in Chicago, Illinois by Philo Carpenter, Howard Z. Culver, George M. Wheeler, Thomas S. Dickerson, Edward H. Williams, W. Robbins and then-mayor Benjamin W. Raymond. A month after incorporating, the founders convinced seven watchmakers of the Waltham Watch Company of Waltham, Massachusetts to join their new company in Elgin, Illinois, a city thirty miles northwest of Chicago. Construction of a factory was undertaken and completed in 1866, with the first watch, an 18-size movement named the B.W. Raymond in honor of Benjamin W. Raymond, being delivered in 1867 for the then astonishing price of $115.
ÒElginÓ became the standard moniker by which the CompanyÕs watches were known, and in 1874 the Company officially changed their name to the Elgin National Watch Company. Elgin grew, coming to dominate the mid-grade watch market along with the Waltham Watch Company. In 1910, Elgin built the Elgin National Watch Company Observatory to maintain the precise times in their watches. In the same year, Elgin also shipped their first wristwatches, which were self-winding movements, and later produced the first wristwatch to be qualified for railroad service (the grade 730A B.W. Raymond).
During the Second World War, the manufacturing of civilian watches was halted and Elgin began producing military watches, chronometers, fuses for artillery shells, sapphire bearings for aiming cannons, altimeters and various other aircraft instruments. Following the War, additional plants were opened and operated in Elgin and Aurora, Illinois and Lincoln Nebraska. In 1964, the original factory in Elgin, Illinois was closed and the Company relocated the majority of its operations to Blaney, South Carolina near Columbia. The town was renamed, becoming Elgin, South Carolina. In 1968, all production in the United States was ceased and the rights to the name ÒElginÓ were sold, though the Elgin Watch CompanyÕs offices, casing, fitting, shipping, service and trade materials department in South Carolina operated until roughly 1970.
Since 1968, the rights to the Elgin name have subsequently been resold multiple times, eventually being purchased by MZ Berger, Incorporated, which continues the manufacture of ÒElginÓ watches in China, distributing them outside traditional watch dealerships. Thus, Elgin watches produced after 1968 have no connection to the original Elgin Watch Company.
Known as the ÒWorking ManÕs Watch,Ó the movements produced by Elgin National Watch Company were also innovative for their time, including the introduction of ÒDuraBalanceÓ and the only American-made automatic wristwatch movements. The contributions of the Elgin National Watch Company to the American Horological industry were substantial. Many of the watches produced over one hundred years ago continue to provide accurate, reliable time to their owners. ElginÕs scale of production and reliability makes them on of the most commonly collected vintage watches.
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This piece was illustrated by Delay, H. S. . Artist signature in print - bottom left of image.
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