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Ingersoll Radiolite

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Pocket Watches447 of 1141antique watch1916 Wadsworth Referre 21 ruby jewels double roller Illinois Watch Company 1522913
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Posted 1 year ago


(546 items)

This is another dollar watch from Robert H. Ingersoll & Bro.
The Ingersoll Radiolite
Serial No. 54163982 manufactured in 1921-22.
These dials (numbers & hands) were hand painted with a paint mixture containing "radium". They were painted by young girls referred to by "Radium Girls".
Radium dials were almost always painted by young women, who used to 'point' their brushes by licking and shaping the bristles prior to painting the fine lines and numbers on the dials. This practice resulted in the ingestion of radium, which caused serious jaw-bone degeneration and malignancy and other dental diseases reminiscent of phossy jaw. The disease, radium-induced osteonecrosis, was recognized as an occupational disease in 1925 after a group of radium painters, known as the Radium Girls, from the United States Radium Corporation sued. By 1930, all dial painters stopped pointing their brushes by mouth. Stopping this practice drastically reduced the amount of radium ingested and therefore, the incidence of malignancy, to zero by 1950 among the workers who were studied.
In the Books section I posted a Readers Digest August 1932 containing a article on the hazards oh medicines containing radium.
Here is a poem about Radium Girls:

• Eleanor Swanson
Radium Girls
We sat at long tables side by side in a big
dusty room where we laughed and carried
on until they told us to pipe down and paint.
The running joke was how we glowed,
the handkerchiefs we sneezed into lighting
up our purses when we opened them at night,
our lips and nails, painted for our boyfriends
as a lark, simmering white as ash in a dark room.
"Would you die for science?" the reporter asked us,
Edna and me, the main ones in the papers.
Science? We mixed up glue, water and radium
powder into a glowing greenish white paint
and painted watch dials with a little
brush, one number after another, taking
one dial after another, all day long,
from the racks sitting next to our chairs.
After a few strokes, the brush lost its shape,
and our bosses told us to point it with
our lips. Was that science?
I quit the watch factory to work in a bank
and thought I'd gotten class, more money,
a better life, until I lost a tooth in back
and two in front and my jaw filled up with sores.
We sued: Edna, Katherine, Quinta, Larice and me,
but when we got to court, not one of us
could raise our arms to take the oath.
My teeth were gone by then. "Pretty Grace
Fryer," they called me in the papers.
All of us were dying.
We heard the scientist in France, Marie
Curie, could not believe "the manner
in which we worked" and how we tasted
that pretty paint a hundred times a day.
Now, even our crumbling bones
will glow forever in the black earth.

Thanks for looking,


  1. pw-collector pw-collector, 1 year ago
    Here is a link to the Readers Digest article I posted on Radium, a Double-Edged Sword
  2. geo26e geo26e, 1 year ago
    Thank you Dave for sharing this interest story. Love the black dial. Nice piece.
  3. pw-collector pw-collector, 1 year ago
    Thanks geo26e for the comment & appreciation.
  4. pw-collector pw-collector, 1 year ago
    Sorry, I forgot to add photo of the "Radium Girls". Now posted.
  5. pw-collector pw-collector, 1 year ago
    Thanks pops52 for the appreciation.
  6. pw-collector pw-collector, 1 year ago
    Thanks mustangtony for the appreciation.
  7. pw-collector pw-collector, 1 year ago
    Thanks officialfuel & ttomtucker for the appreciation.
  8. pw-collector pw-collector, 1 year ago
    Thanks BELLIN68 for the appreciation & wishing you a Merry Christmas also.
  9. pw-collector pw-collector, 1 year ago
    Thanks Kerry for the appreciation.
  10. pw-collector pw-collector, 1 year ago
    Thanks blunderbuss2 for the appreciation.
  11. pw-collector pw-collector, 1 year ago
    Thanks Manikin for the appreciation.
  12. pw-collector pw-collector, 1 year ago
    Thanks PhilDavidAlexanderMorris for the appreciation.
  13. freiheit freiheit, 2 months ago
    Very moving. My grandfather had to work in an uranium mine. No protection; just a bottle of free booze every week. It didn't protect him from cancer. What a surprise!!
  14. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 months ago
    Thanks freiheit for the appreciation and the story. No one was interested in protecting the workers back then.

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