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Elgin Watch Material?


#1

Hi All:

I recently bought some old jewelry stuff. Miscellaneous hand tools
wire some sheet, just a bunch of stuff.

Among the boxes I found a small steel box an inch and a quarter by
two and one half inches about a quarter inch high. The box is a dark
yellow and has a graphic of an industrial plant on the top.

The script says “Elgin Watch Material”. At the bottom of the cover
it says “manufactured by the Elgin National Watch Co. Elgin, Ill.
U.S.A.”.

Inside are six small rectangular brass boxes with lids that contain
what looks and smells like wax. The wax smells like a crayon and is
the color of paraffin wax.

Any ideas what this is for? I don’t know the age of this find, but
I’d say it’s been around a long time.

Best wishes,
Marc


#2
       Inside are six small rectangular brass boxes with lids that
contain what looks and smells like wax. The wax smells like a
crayon and is the color of paraffin wax. Any ideas what this is
for? I don't know the age of this find, but I'd say it's been
around a long time. 

Marc,

Just an idea, you might try holding the waxy material under a light.
Then in the dark to see if it glows. What you might have is a
luminescence product used on the hour and minute hands of watches to
make them glow in the dark.

have a good day
michael goin


#3

HI,

Sorry I’m a bit late with this reply but I’ve been away and I’m only
just catching up with my posts. I suspect that the material you have
may be some form of grease used on mainsprings or the winding
mechanism of watches. There were a number of different grades of
greases and wax treatments used - some to lubricate the slow moving
parts of a watch and some to coat the plates with a thin layer of a
waxy substance to prevent the oil spreading away from the bearing
areas. Whatever it is it is probably well past its ‘use-by’ date and
would not be useable - at least, I wouldn’t use it as many of these
substances deteriorate and become acidic with age and would then
cause damage to any metalwork they are applied to.

Of far more interest is the box they are in. As a restorer of antique
watches I just love to collect the tools and equipment used to make
them as these have such interesting social and industrial history
attached to them. I know that there are also collectors of this type
of stuff all over the world (not that I think your particular box has
any great monetary value but its historical value is important) I
also use the original types of tools wherever possible to carry out
the repairs to these watches. Not only do they give me a sense of
’connexion’ with the watch but these simple tools are often easier to
use and do the job better than their modern, technologically more
complex, counterparts. As to the age of your box I would suggest that
it may be anytime from say 1900 to 1950 - I know that this is a broad
time period but, whilst the Elgin name began to be used in 1874, it
is very unlikely that materials will still be in existence from that
early. The company again changed their name in 1960 but, for the last
few years their watches weren’t especially popular. The design on the
lids of their tins hardly changed over time and so this is not a good
indicator of date but I would suggest that the material you have is
most likely from the 1935 - 1950 period when there were still a lot
of Elgin pocket watches in regular use and repairers still did
’proper repairs’ rather than just changing parts as they do now.

Best Wishes
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Antique watch restorer
Sheffield UK