NewslettersRuby Lane's newsletters are designed to celebrate the antiques and art, vintage collectibles and jewelry communities around the world. Our Past Times newsletter focuses on antiques and collectibles. Our Creative Hands newsletter celebrates fine art and handcrafted jewelry on Ruby Lane. Our shop owners are frequent article contributors, sharing their expertise and their passions for the items they collect and create. Enjoy!
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Ruby Lane Past Times Newsletter for April
Past Times Penny Stansberry of Penny's Antiques, specializes in fine __________________________________________________________________ Once as common as rude drivers, these beautiful timekeepers of
The monthly newsletter from Ruby Lane Antiques, Collectibles,
Fine Art, and Artisans
Welcome to Past Times!
IN THIS ISSUE:
o Collecting Men's Pocket Watches By Donald Ryan of Lee Ryan
Antiques and Estate Jewelry
o Share Past Times with A Friend
APRIL HOT SHOP: WELCOME TO PENNY'S ANTIQUES!
antiques and collectibles. Open on Ruby Lane since 2001, here in
her shop you will find a fine selection of items in categories
ranging from Wedgwood, to Sterling, Silver-plate, Weller
pottery, China, String-holders, postcards and more. Currently,
Penny is listing postcards of the different holidays, etc. - She
has over 10,000 great postcards including all of the states,
some foreign and a variety of interesting topics! If there are
particular cards you are interested in you can also let her know
as there is a reasonable chance that she will have it. Penny is
a member of A.A.D.A. and participates in Antique shows around
We invite you to visit Penny's shop at Penny's Antiques.
LEE RYAN ANTIQUES AND ESTATE JEWELRY
yesterday are truly works of art. Heavily engraved gold cases,
hand painted dials, accuracy within a few seconds a day, jeweled
and gilded movements that make your eyes water; these are all
part of the wonderful world of pocket watches.
Once large and cumbersome pieces that could weigh a third of a
pound or more, they were nonetheless worn and wound daily by
millions of office workers, bankers, farmers, politicians,
laborers, merchants, etc. They were not allowed to run down,
since it was not the simple affair it is today to find out what
time it was. There was no radio; heck, there wasn't even TV. So
you waited until someone else with a watch came along and you
could set yours. My favorite story along this line is about the
jewelry store owner who had an eight feet tall clock outside his
shop. Every weekday, when the town's factory whistle blew, he
would climb a short ladder and set the hands to 12:00. One
morning, after coming in particularly early, he noticed a
well-dressed man on the sidewalk admiring his clock. Stepping
outside, he introduced himself and asked if he could be of
service. The man said: "No thank you. I'm the owner of the
factory and every day I stop by to set my watch. This way I know
exactly when to blow the factory's noon whistle."
Buying a pocket watch was a little more involved than watch
shopping today. A man would pick out a movement from one display
and a case from another. His choice was balanced by what he
could afford, how accurate a timepiece he required, and whether
the case should be base metal, silver, gold filled, or gold. For
example; a middle level manager, interested in status, would
probably match a medium grade movement and a heavy gold case. A
train conductor, whose job required highly accurate time, would
opt for a 21 jewel movement and a sturdier gold filled or silver
case. This is the main reason we find so many high grade
movements in cheaper cases and vice versa. Most folks now shop
for looks and design, since the personal watch is not as
important for time telling as it once was.
Other choices would involve type of dial, perhaps a fob or
chain, any extra engraving, hunting case or open face, etc. A
dial could be special ordered or bought from stock. The dials
were fused porcelain on copper and each was hand painted. It
could be plain or fancy, standard black and white, or gold
lettered with a colored background. Railroad watch dials were
plain, with large numerals, to ensure readability under less
than optimum lighting. Hunting cases have covers over the faces
and are opened by pressing on the stem. You can usually identify
those individuals who know what they're doing by their method of
closing a hunting case. The knowledgeable will always press the
stem in first so the gold cover doesn't shut against the steel
catch. The uninformed, or those who have watched too many
Westerns, will just shut the case with the force of their
fingers; a sure-fire way to wear a groove in the cover's catch
area. An open face watch has no cover and was one of the
requirements for railroad standards after the mid 1890's.
A chain was necessary to secure the watch to a belt, button, or
through a button hole, and its cost was usually in line with the
quality and purpose of the watch. Fobs were decorative charms or
medallions that were attached to the other end of the chain.
They ranged from simple gold filled circles to fantastic gem
encrusted wonders of the jewelers' art, often costing more than
the watch itself.
Some of the American makers were: Hamilton, Elgin, Waltham,
Illinois, South Bend, Rockford, and Howard. There were many
others who also made quality watches but these are the best
known. Of them all, Hamilton is considered the Cadillac of
American watchmakers. Although other makers had certain high
quality, accurate and expensive grades, Hamilton's consistent
high quality line was the choice of most railroad workers. I
know there are some who will disagree with this, but that's why
there are nine people on the Supreme Court.
The introduction of the man's wrist watch in WW I spelled the
beginning of the end for the pocket watch. Prior to this period,
wrist watches were considered effeminate (but, like a boy named
Sue, any man wearing one had to be tough). However, officers on
the front lines needed a timepiece they could use but still have
their two hands free; a requirement only a wrist watch could
fill. Widespread military acceptance of this new adornment
ensured its place in the civilian world also.
For the next 40 years American companies continued to
manufacture pocket watches. Advances in technology made smaller
and thinner watches possible, but competition from wrist watches
(from the same companies and the Swiss) finally put finis to a
grand era. Even wrist watches were not enough to sustain the
American companies from overseas competition. Most went out of
business in the 50's and 60's, their names and stock bought by
There is newfound popularity for vintage pocket watches. Men
feel good about handling something substantial; an item that
must be wound every day, and which contains actual moving parts
as opposed to a battery and circuit board. These visual and
tactile sensations endow the wearer with more than "time of day"
knowledge; they impart a sense of history, status, and
satisfaction with one's standing among his peers.
We invite you to visit Donald's shop: Lee Ryan Antiques and
Penny Stansberry of Penny's Antiques, specializes in fine
Once as common as rude drivers, these beautiful timekeepers of
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