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1886 Gold Nugget Watch and Fob

1886 Gold Nugget Watch and Fob

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This gold pocket watch and fob are not a set as one might think, but they do share a common history. Anson Williber Callen ordered and gifted both of these these precious items to his son and daughter to mark their birthdays. Mr. Callen, of Junction City, Kansas, made his fortune as a guide for expeditions going to Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada in search of gold. In exchange for his services, he negotiated an interest in each mine and its production. The gold nuggets that cover the surface of this watch and chain are believed to have come from one of the mines that he helped discover.
Callen gave his daughter, Ella, this 18 karat watch made by Hampden and set with four rubies and a.50 karat European cut diamond. Its inscription reads "A W Callen to his daughter E E Callen on the 16th anniversary of her birth April 19th 1886.” For his son, Jacob Benton, Callen chose a sizeable pocket watch made by the Elgin National Watch Company (not shown here) and this chain. He had the fob engraved to say ‘to J.B. Callen on the 27th Anniversary of his birth with love from his father "Old Grizzly" Junction City, Kansas September 22, 1885." Jacob’s birth was important to more than just the Callen family as he was reported to be the first Caucasian child born in Junction City, which was not yet a formal western frontier settlement.
Men like Anson Williber Callen embodied the American pioneer spirit. He travelled westward with his family in search of fortune and found it. Artifacts like these remind us of these people who settled the ‘Wild West’ in the nineteenth century.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Watch Fob
Date made
Physical Description
metal, gold, 18k (overall material)
watch fob: 25 cm x 3.5 cm x 1.5 cm; 9 13/16 in x 1 3/8 in x 9/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Robert Callen King
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Costume
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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