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R. H. Ingersoll & Bro. Early Dollar Watches

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    Posted 7 years ago

    pw-collector
    (281 items)

    R. H. Ingersoll & Bro. Early Dollar Watches

    In 1879, a young Robert H. Ingersoll, at the age of 19, left his father’s farm near Lansing, Michigan and went to New York to seek his fortune. Other than the farming skills gained on his father’s farm he was without technical training, but he had a vision of what common people wanted. After finding employment and able to stash away $160.00, he decided to become an entrepreneur and started his own business in the manufacturing and selling of rubber stamps. Soon he sent for his brother Charles H. to join him in his new enterprise. His brother, who tinkered in inventions, devised a toy typewriter, which attained a considerable sale as a dollar article. This was followed by a patented pencil, a dollar sewing-machine, a patent key-ring & various other novelties. They soon found themselves with an embryo manufacturing and wholesale jobbing business. Their next development was that of a mail-order department. Their catalog was published in millions of copies. Next they developed the chain-store idea with a specialty store in New York followed by six other outlets. Expanding their inventory, they soon found themselves among the largest wholesale and retail dealers in the country.
    One day, Robert H. noticed a small Ansonia “Bee” clock in his boarding-house room that he had seen a hundred times not giving it any thought beyond checking the time, but this time, it suddenly ceased to be a clock and opened a door into the future. What if this clock could be reduced in size, one that could be put into a pocket and be affordable by the common man. Soon he discovered that the New Haven and the Waterbury Clock Companies had already produced these types of inexpensive “clock-watches”. Neither of these companies had achieved mass-market success or widespread distribution. In 1892 he placed an order with the Waterbury Clock Company to purchase 1,000 of these “clock-watches” at a cost of $0.85 apiece to be offered in their 1892 Ingersoll mail-order catalog at a price of $1.00. They were a success and soon he placed an order for 10,000 more. This was the beginning of the R. H. Ingersoll & Bro. watch, “The Watch That Made The Dollar Famous”.
    Manufacturing was carried out by contract with the Waterbury Clock Co. and at two new factories owned by Ingersoll at Waterbury & Trenton, New Jersey. The Ingersoll Co. is credited with perfecting the mail-order & retail business with uniform pricing throughout. By 1899 their production was 8.000 watches per day and in 1901 they advertised that their watches were sold for $1.00 by 10,000 dealers across the USA and Canada. Their slogan was “The Watch That Made The Dollar Famous”.
    In 1908 they purchased the Trenton Watch Co. and in 1914 the New England Watch Company. In 1917 they introduced the “Reliance” a higher-grade and not considered a dollar watch because it was a jeweled movement manufactured in the Trenton plant they purchased. In 1919 they introduced the “Radiolite” with a luminous radium dial. (both of these will be shown in a separate post).
    In 1921 during the post WWI recession, Ingersoll declared bankruptcy and in 1922 was purchased by the Waterbury Watch Company (different from the Waterbury Clock Co,) for approximately 1.5 Million Dollars. In 1942 the Waterbury Watch Co. was purchased by the U.S. Time Corp., which continued to use the Ingersoll name.

    Shown here is three of the early “back-wind & set” clock watches with paper dials, sold through their mail-order catalog business.
    On the left is a 35-size clock-watch with the case measuring 2.5 inches across and 1.12 inches thick. The dial is marked with the Waterbury Clock Co. logo under the 12:00 position and WATERBURY CLOCK CO. below the hour/minute hand post. The back movement cover is marked:
    PATENTED
    JAN. 15. 1878
    MAY 6. 1890
    DEC. 23. 1890
    JAN. 13. 1891
    PATENTS PENDING

    The center one is similar in size with the case measuring 2.5 inches across and 0.94 inch thick.
    The dial is marked:
    TRIUMPH
    R.H. INGERSOLL & BRO.
    NEW YORK
    The back cover is removed showing the clock-watch works.

    The one on the right is a smaller one with the case measuring 2.2 inches across and 0.89 inch thick.
    The dial is marked:
    YANKEE
    R. H. INGERSOLL & BRO.
    NEW YORK
    U.S.A.
    The back cover is marked:
    (around the winding key):
    PATENTED
    MAY 6. 1890
    DEC. 23. 1890
    JAN. 13. 1891
    (below the set knob):
    R. H. INGERSOLL & BRO.
    NEW YORK
    U.S.A.

    Thanks for looking,
    Dave

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    Comments

    1. pw-collector pw-collector, 7 years ago
      Thanks for the appreciation:
      trunkman
      SEAN68
      fortapache
      aghcollect
    2. walksoftly walksoftly, 7 years ago
      Very interesting!
    3. pw-collector pw-collector, 7 years ago
      Thanks for the appreciation:
      walksoftly
      mikelv85
      officialfuel
      Trey
      Manakin
    4. pw-collector pw-collector, 7 years ago
      walksoftly, I failed to finish the story:
      Manufacturing was carried out by contract with the Waterbury Clock Co. and at two new factories owned by Ingersoll at Waterbury & Trenton, New Jersey. The Ingersoll Co. is credited with perfecting the mail-order & retail business with uniform pricing throughout. By 1899 their production was 8.000 watches per day and in 1901 they advertised that their watches were sold for $1.00 by 10,000 dealers across the USA and Canada. Their slogan was “The Watch That Made The Dollar Famous”.
      In 1908 they purchased the Trenton Watch Co. and in 1914 the New England Watch Company. In 1917 they introduced the “Reliance” a higher-grade and not considered a dollar watch because it was a jeweled movement manufactured in the Trenton plant they purchased. In 1919 they introduced the “Radiolite” with a luminous radium dial. (both of these will be shown in a separate post).
      In 1921 during the post WWI recession, Ingersoll declared bankruptcy and in 1922 was purchased by the Waterbury Watch Company (different from the Waterbury Clock Co,) for approximately 1.5 Million Dollars. In 1942 the Waterbury Watch Co. was purchased by the U.S. Time Corp., which continued to use the Ingersoll name.
      (I will amend the text above and insert this)
      Dave
    5. walksoftly walksoftly, 7 years ago
      That is a lot of watches to make per day!
    6. pw-collector pw-collector, 7 years ago
      Thanks Radegunder for the appreciation.
    7. pw-collector pw-collector, 7 years ago
      walksoftly, yes, that is a lot. From 1892 until the end of 1922 the estimated serial numbers are around 60,500,000. I have several like those above that do not have serial numbers and I don't know if serial numbers started at 1 or 101 or 1001, but lets say they started at number 1. At 60,500,000 divided by 30 years, that would be 2,016,666 watches per year. If they worked a 6-day week for 52 weeks, that would be 6, 463 watches per day. If they worked a 5-day week for 52 weeks, that would be 7,756 watches per day. This would be an average including a slow start and a slow ending before bankruptcy, so at their peek production time, 8,000 watches per day is feasible.
    8. walksoftly walksoftly, 7 years ago
      Again, very interesting post, thanks for sharing it with us!
    9. pw-collector pw-collector, 7 years ago
      Thanks BB2 for the appreciation.
    10. pw-collector pw-collector, 6 years ago
      Thanks BinaryReflex for the appreciation.
    11. ttomtucker ttomtucker, 5 years ago
      pw-collector, Ingersoll & Bros. also manufactured telephones in 1894, in was called the "peerless" outfit. I have one in my telephone collection.

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