Watch, Elgin National Watch Co.

This watch, once owned by a woman, dates from about 1879.
The Elgin National Watch Co. was founded in Elgin, Illinois, in 1864 at the end of the Civil War to compete with the American Waltham Watch Co. In its early decades it helped to establish a robust American watch manufacturing industry, and, by the time it ceased operation in 1968, it had produced millions of watches.
The donor of this watch, George W. Spier, was custodian of the U.S. National Museum's watch collection. He was also founding president, beginning in 1921, of the American Horological Institute, an organization for professional watchmakers. Born in Germany, Spier was a well-known jeweler in Washington, D.C.
Movement: spring going barrel, ¾ plate, gilt finish, 6 size, 7 jewels hunting, stem wind and lever set, bimetallic compensation balance, straight lever escapement, regulator on bridge; marked: "Elgin National Watch Co./ Patent Pinion/ 597929"
Dial: white enamel with Roman numerals, blued steel hands, sunk Arabic numeral seconds at 6; marked “ELGIN” in decorative rectangle
Case: hunting style; monogrammed "C.H.S."; dust cap engraved: “Presented by her Brothers”; also marked with maker’s marks: “B.&T./18K/11105”
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Elgin National Watch Co.
Physical Description
brass (watch case material)
metal, gold (watch movement material)
overall: 2 1/2 in x 1 3/4 in x 5/8 in; 6.35 cm x 4.445 cm x 1.5875 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
patent number
catalog number
accession number
Measuring & Mapping
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
George W. Spier
Additional Media

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