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Shugart, Engle and Gilbert's Complete Watches book

These are the "problems" that I know of in the book Complete Price Guide To Watches by Cooksey Shugart, Tom Engle and Richard E Gilbert the 1999 Edition, here after referred to as "Shugart's"

Actually, I am not certain that these are all really problems, they may simply be things that I don't understand. If anyone can clarify this stuff, I would be grateful. Also, this list is not complete, I know that I've noticed other minor stuff before I started writing up this list.

While I list a large number of problems, I still think that this book is an invaluable source of information. I can find problems with the Elgin section of the book, but this is one of the first books I turn to when looking for information about watches in other areas.

Page 16

Starting on page 16 and going for about 10 pages, there is a lot of information about Railroad watches. Unfortunately, much of it is either incomplete, inaccurate or misleading. Worse, the information in this book is so widely used, that what most dealers and collectors consider a "railroad" watch is based more on this book than on reality.

An example of just one of the many inconsistencies is on page 19 where there is the claim that "By the mid 1890s hunter cases were being turned down as well as pendant set. Watches meeting approval then include Waltham, 18s, 1892 model; Elgin 7th model; and Hamilton, 17j, open face, lever set." Unfortunately, Elgin's 7th model 18s watch wasn't introduced until almost 1900.

To counter the incorrect impressions by reading the "Complete Watches" book, Kent Singer, one of the foremost experts on Railroad watches has written an article entitled Just What Is A Railroad Watch?. This article covers American Railroad standards from around 1850 until 1960 and spells such myths as Railroad watches couldn't be hunter case watches or pendant set.

Page 172

  • The first Father Time is said to be 2,300,001, but I don't think it was anywhere near that early. In that serial number would date to ca 1886, however the Elgin 1896 Material Catalog makes no mention of the Father Time name, and the 1904 Material Catalog makes references to only grades that were produced after 1895. It is likely that those grades didn't originally care the Father Time name, and the first Father Times were produced between 1896 and 1904.
  • The first 16s double roller is said to be a G=156 SN10,249,901, however the 1950 Material Catalog says that the 16s G=162 SN8497301 has a double roller.
Page 173
  • The serial numbers and production date table looks "wrong".

    • It starts with "1867 -- 10,000". Does this mean that there were 10,000 watches produced by the *end* of 1867? If so, then most of the rest of the list is "off by one" year compared to most of the other lists I've seen.
    • The jump in production from "1870 -- 50,001" to "1871 -- 185,001" doesn't make much sense. This would mean that Elgin produced more than three times as many watches in one year as they had in the previous 4 years combined. Then in 1872, Shugart's says they produced only 16,000, almost a factor of 10 few watches produced than 1871.
    • In 1874, Elgin changed their name from the "National Watch Company" to the "Elgin National Watch Company", at which point they changed how they labelled their dials. The highest watch that I've seen with a National dial is SN266233, which leads me to believe that the 1875 production figure should be somewhere around 300,000 not 430,000 as listed in Shugart's.
    • There are several other lists of production figures that I've seen for Elgin and while none of them agree 100%, they seem to be much more consistent than Shugart's.

      Shugart's claim that the "C,E,T & Y" serial number prefix should be considered in the 42,000,000 range seems wrong. This doesn't match the order listed in Elgin's serial number book, but it does give "believable" production totals. Right before WWII, Elgin was making very few watches, but as soon as the war started, Elgin started producing lots of watches for the military. They also produced special timers, aircraft/tank clocks, and timed bomb fuses.

  • At the bottom of the page, there is a note that says the G=571 was introduced in 1950. However, there are runs of G=571 going back to the 'U' letter series of 1946. Either the G=571 was introduced earlier, or the serial number letters are off by a long ways.
Page 174
  • The first 6s watch is said to be 570,001, but that is a 18s G=82. My records say the first SN is 510,001 G=64
Page 174
  • There is no mention of the nameless 20j grade 149 and 150 watches.
Page 176
  • There are listings for Father Time watches with only 17 jewels, both in open face and hunter case variations. I strongly suspect that no such watches exist or, if they do, they are very rare.
  • There is a listing for Father Time watches with 20 jewels, both in open face and hunter case variations. While I think these are more likely to exist than the 17j Father Times, I also suspect that no such watches exist. If they do exist, I don't believe there can be more than around 1,000 of each variation and it is more likely that only a few exist.
Page 178
  • There is a "Veritas, 23j, G#94, Wind Indicator, "Free Sprung", OF" listed, but G=94 is a 6s 11j watch. Maybe they mean G=494...?
Page 179
  • Under the "nameless" grade list, there is an entry that says "No. 345, 19j, GJS, 2-tone, HC", but a grade 345 Elgin is a (very) common size 12 open face watch with only 17 jewels. Also, the only 19 jewel size 18 watch that I can find in Elgin's documentation is the grade 240 BWRaymond.

    I think this may be a confused combination of two of the different two-tone movements that Elgin made. First there is G=411 which is a 18s 21j open face watch which appear to be always a two-tone. Secondly, there is a few G=345's that are marked "Transit" that are 12s 17j open face watches that appear to be two-tone. It is my understanding that these "Transit" watches were cased in hunter cases with a leather strap. Elgin made a few other two-tone's, such as at least one G=313.

  • There is a picture of a 17s watch made for Kennedy & Co that is listed as having SN199,076 but the picture looks like it should be SN499,076 which makes a lot more sense.
Page 180
  • The first watch description on this page says "Convertible Model, 21J=G#72 & G#91, 3/4, NI ...... $200 $250 $350", but the next three lines list these grades again for a factor of 10 more. I think this line is bogus.
Page 181
  • There are listings for Father Time watches with only 17 jewels. I strongly suspect that no such watches exist or, if they do, they are very rare.
Page 182
  • There is a picture of a BWRaymond, SN17,822,991 which is listed as a grade 350. According to the Elgin Material Catalogs that I have, this is actually a grade 372. The other info that is listed is correct for a grade 372, but a grade 350 is a (very rare) Veritas 21j.
Page 183
  • There is a Lord Elgin, grade 351 SN12,718,340 that has a note "This watch came from the first run of Lord Elgins." On page 182, there is also shown a Lord Elgin 3 finger bridge, but the serial number is only 10,249,819! How can the the one with the higher serial number be "from the first run of Lord Elgins"?
  • There is a listing of "Veritas, 21j, 3F brg, GJS, G#360", but G=360 isn't a three finger bridge. There is also a listing further down for G=360 with no mention of 3F bridge. I suppose it is possible that Elgin manufactured some of these as 3F bridge, they have done weirder things...
  • There are listings for grades G=72 and G=91 under the "models with no names" section, but the prices are different than what is listed on page 180.
Page 196
  • Starting on page 196, there are pictures of Elgin movements and short description to help people identify their watches. Unfortunately this section seems to confuse a great deal of people and they end up thinking their watches are something that they aren't.

    In particular the first grade that used a particular model of movement is listed, but, due to how the words are phrased, people think that any watch that that matches this picture is that particular grade. Often the first grade of a given model is a very high end watch and so people think low grade watches are high grade ones instead.

    In the introductory paragraph on this page, it is claimed that "... you can now find your watch in the main price listing by name or number (which is engraved on the movement)." Unfortunately, if there isn't a name engraved on the movement, the grade number is very rarely engraved. This paragraph appears to be copied from the Waltham section. I don't know much about Waltham's, but I think they probably did put either a name or a grade number on most of their watches.

    The only practical way of determining the grade of an Elgin watch is based off the "serial number/grade lists" which, probably due to its large size, is not included in Shugart's.

I have received information about several other things that may be in error in the "Complete Guide" book. As I am fairly ignorant in areas other than Elgin watches, I can only say that these corrections sound reasonable.

From Whit Joyner:

On page 333, the Peoria Watch Co., Whit has a watch with SN 8944 (~1887) which has the top plates marked "Safety Pinion. Adjusted. Peoria Watch Co. 15 Jewels. For Railway Service. Anti-Magnetic." This variation is not listed in Shugart's. In particular, Shugart lists markings of "Made For Railway Service", but not "For Railway Service". A small difference to some, an importation variation to others.

Readers should add to the M. S. Smith & Co. models (page 361, 2002 edition) an 18 size 22 jewel 1/4 second sweep hand chronograph. It seems to be Smith's usual 15 jewel Swiss "wolf's tooth" model, with the timer works fitted on top of the top plate and the sweep hand added to the dial (giving the watch two seconds hands).

From Jon Hanson:

Jon says "The 28 Jewel Maiden Lane Seth Thomas doesn't exist". This one is marked with 5 stars and priced for $15,000-$25,000

While I'm not an expert, I believe the information on this page is correct. Please send suggestions and corrections to the webmaster.
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