Grandfather's pocket watch and accessories, from Civil war era.
Grandfather's watch from Chicago, IL. Been in the family since civil war era.
Thank you for sending in this family heirloom pocket watch to mearto.com for an appraisal. I shall try to help you with that today. I am doing this appraisal although lacking necessary information from you. However, you did not respond to my e-mails for assistance so I decided to go forward with the information that you supplied.
Gent’s, 14k gold, pendant wound, keyless, open face pocket watch, Unsigned by the watchmaker on the dial, most likely made on the Continent, Switzerland is most likely, an American made case, circa 1880-1900. Accompanied by a gilt mesh pendant sash with a foliate ornament and initials of the owner, a gilt ringlet watch chain and open work gilt penknife fob chain.
Although this pocket watch and paraphernalia belonged to the client’s grandfather, apparently one of the earlier family members lived during the Civil War era and is thought to be the original owner of these items, although most, if not all of them postdate that War.
CASE – Size not provided but assumed to be a full men’s size, e.g. 16 or 18, 14k gold, three leaf, keyless, open face pocket watch with the back cover engine turned with an engraving in the center suggestive of farming and the harvest with tools, e.g. shovel, rake, scythe and a bundled sheaf of wheat. (Your grandfather came from Chicago with its surrounding regions specializing in farming, the theme of the pocket watch.) There is a fluted full ball pendant and round bow placed at the twelve position. The interior of the case is not shown. (The full ball fluted pendant postdates key-wound watches and came into common usage post 1870-1880.) The cuvette is marked for "Cylinder escapement, 10 jewels".
DIAL – White enameled dial with Roman hours, closed minute track, no subsidiary seconds dial, gilt brass fenestrated hands in the French/Swiss style. The dial is unsigned. (This style of hands is often seen on French clocks made in the Jura mountains adjacent to the border with Switzerland. My best guess is that French speaking watchmakers on the Swiss side of the border copied this type of hand for their watches.)
MOVEMENT – Not shown. Said to be a cylinder escapement, keyless and made with 10 jewels. It is most likely that the movement and the case, the latter being 14k gold, were both made in Switzerland. The wonderful farming theme on the cover could have been made in Switzerland but is may have been done by a jeweler or engraver here in the USA.
Case – Moderate size dent or ding on the back cover. The fully engraved case both outside and inside remains in very good to excellent condition. The inner case is marked for 14k gold. American pocket watch cases were in their infancy at the start of the Civil War. (An interesting statistic is that after the Civil War in 1868 the U.S imported 366,000 watches, mostly from Switzerland, while in 1880 they imported a total of 10,000 watches.) Most of the early pocket watches made during the first decades of American watch case production (1850-1870) were made of either rolled gold, gold plate or gold filled metal rather than solid gold watches (**N.B.solid gold cases were being produced in Europe at this time).
Dial - Clear and legible with no fractures. American watch companies generally signed their dials and never used the type of watch hands for their dials.
Movement – Not Seen, but it is a cylinder escapement made with ten jewels and will consider it as being original to this case, genuine and the movement is most likely still functional.
ACCESSORIES - The gilt penknife became a popular fob added to watch chains primarily during the decades from 1890-1920. These usually were gold plated or gold filled unless signed and made by upper end companies like Cartier. There are two types of watch chains here suggesting they were added at different times. The age of the initialed gold mesh pendant sash, initialed by the owner and carrying his initials is a bit harder to pinpoint, but the ornamentation centered on both the sash and the small attachment where it connects to the chain suggests foliate natural forms of the Art Nouveau which began in the 1870s and ran through to 1910.
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/45283490_wsandb-110-gold-heavy-pocket-watch-chain-and-fob (sold for $45)
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/67245482_waltham-american-watch-company-gold-filled-pocket-watch (sold for $60)
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/3689365_176-american-waltham-gold-filled-lady-s-pocket-watch (sold for $50)
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/11444451_119-american-waltham-gold-filled-open-face (sold for $100)
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/16944684_two-pocket-watches-and-two-gold-filled-watch-chains-am (two sold for $160)
(All are 14k solid gold and sold for $1900)
This is wonderful piece of family history for you, although it is much more valuable as a family heirloom than it would be if sold on the auction market today. The entire set of the 14k gold Swiss pocket watch, watch chains, gilt penknife and gold/gilt sash, as a unit would range in Fair Market Value from $800-$1300.
I hope this has been of some help to you in understanding your wonderful family heirloom pocket watch.
Thank you again for using mearto.com
Thank you for contacting Mearto with your appraisal inquiry. So that I may best assist you, can you please upload a few more clear images. In a family heirloom watch dating to the Civil War era I need to see close-up photos of the design on the case, the interior of the case and the movement. Just to be certain I do not miss anything, I will need you to tell me what you find written inside the case and on the movement. that will serve as corroboration of what I can find if the photos are not of high enough resolution.
It is important to me, as well as to you, for me to do this appraisal properly.
Many thanks and Happy Thanksgiving,
p.s. Let me know you receive this message