Elgin Watch Company Identification And Price Guide

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People frequently want to know how much their antique or vintage watch is worth. Unfortunately, determining your watch's value is a hard question to answer. These web pages covers many of the general ways to try and find an answer to this question. Table of Contents There Is No Single Dollar ValueThe Most Accurate MethodThe Quickest MethodThe Price Guide MethodThe Online Elgin Database MethodThe eBay Completed Auctions MethodThe Appraisal MethodThe Evaluation Method     (General Overview)The Evaluation Method     (Detailed)The Email the Webmaster Method The Price Guide Method There are a couple of reasonable price guides for watches that I know of.

Both contain reasonably long sections in the front explaining how to identify and grade watches. They are well worth getting just for this information. When comparing values in guide books, it is critical to make sure you understand how the books are determining the condition of the watch and whether they are including the price of the case or not. Some books assume that the watch is in mint condition and the values they list will be the very top dollar.

Others assume that the watch comes with the "correct case", or if it could be cased in anything, a gold filled case. The first good guide book is the "Complete Price Guide to Watches" by Cooksey Shugart, Tom Engle and Richard Gilbert. This is the most widely referenced watch book and is often known as just "the book". New versions are released every year and it can be found at many local book stores.

This book is neither 100% complete nor 100% accurate. The prices are often disputed, especially in the wrist watch area. It also requires a fair amount of knowledge in order to interpret the values correctly. Still, it makes a good start and I know of no other book that covers as much as Shugart's book does. There is a list of known errors in the Elgin section that will give you an idea of the types of errors you may find in the rest of the book.

PRO:   Prices are widely accepted as being at least in the ball park, if not close to the actual values. The cost is at most around $30 and could be free if there is a copy in a public library.CON:   Requires a fair amount of knowledge to correctly find the right listing and interpret it. Some people feel the prices are wildly inaccurate. The second good guide book is the "American Pocket Watches Identification and Price Guide" by Roy Ehrhardt and Bill Meggers and available at the Heart of America Press.

The most recent version is from 1999 and is not updated every year. As the title implies, this book doesn't cover wrist watches, but it does, however, cover pocket watches more completely with much better information about how to identify them. The prices do not seem as accurate as Shugart's Complete Watches book. PRO and CON:   Basically the same as the "Complete Watches" book. The cost is around $35 and it doesn't cover wrist watches or European pocket watches.

Roy Ehrhardt has also written many wrist watch books, which I have not seen. However, if they are anything like the pocket watch books of his, they should be an excellent source of technical and practical information. Table of Contents There Is No Single Dollar ValueThe Most Accurate MethodThe Quickest MethodThe Price Guide MethodThe Online Elgin Database MethodThe eBay Completed Auctions MethodThe Appraisal MethodThe Evaluation Method     (General Overview)The Evaluation Method     (Detailed)The Email the Webmaster Method

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I have received many requests to value watches on this website. Honestly that is an impossible thing to achieve, so instead I have created an Elgin pocket watch appraisal article for you to read.  Placing any type of value on an Elgin watch just can’t be done with any degree of accuracy or confidence. The best experts in the world would not attempt this, unless they had the actual watch in their hand, and their trusty eye-glass with them.

The price is also highly influenced by the going market rate. As I said earlier, what I can do, is to explain how to do an appraisal of your antique watch.  Hopefully this will at least help and guide you along the way. However please be advised that if you want an accurate value, then you need to take it to an expert. Ask for two quotes, as you will need an auction or real value quote and a quote for insurance purposes.

 The one for insurance purposes will typically have a higher value as it should cover the real cost of replacement. Elgin Pocket Watch Appraisal Explained All genuine Elgin watches will have two serial numbers, one on the case and one on the movement.  The only one in terms of value that you should look at and write down, is the serial number on the actual movement. When you have that then click on this table to get the year the watch was made.

 You now know the year which is always important in terms of value.Now as a sense check only I would next go to eBay or other shopping sites online. There you will be able to see if there are similar watches for sale and get indicative prices. Please be aware many people on auction sites, always over value their watches, so this should only ever be used as a guide. By now you should have some sense of value.

Hopefully for you it is at the higher end of the value chain. This is a good starting point in your initial Elgin pocket watch appraisal. For genuine collectors like me, the only thing and the only details I am interested in, are those of the movement. Many people believe that the case is the most important thing and when advertising focus on that.  For real collectors this is useful information, but we are much more interested in the movement.

Once I know those details then the next thing I want to know is does it run, does it keep time and how accurate it is? After that in terms of value, I would like to know do you have the original box. Other important things are, a bill of sale or any letters, that tell a story about the watch. I am also a bit of a case fan and that is usually the first thing you see and catches my attention. It is however pretty meaningless when you are doing the actual valuation.

Just pray that some person hasn’t tried to clean the case with the wrong cleaning agent. If you have done this type of appraisal then you are very close to ascertaining a truer value.  The general information captured above will quickly lead to an initial idea of value.  Almost every single person I have ever met who has come across an Elgin over estimates its value. I don’t want to be a kill joy but you should be aware that in reality the huge majority of antique pocket watches have a value of around $50-75 and not the many hundreds the finder thinks it is worth.

Sorry for the reality check but always better to think on the low side and maybe be pleasantly surprised. Elgin Pocket Watch Appraisal – General Value Considerations Although not always true in the vast majority of cases the older the watch the more valuable it will be. If you have the original box, bill of sale or associated information then this will always add value. Then you should consider the condition of the watch.

 In particular look at three things during your appraisal: Movement – It should be original with no replacement pieces ideally. Look for wear and tear as a well looked after watch is always more valuable than one with worn down parts.  Does the movement work and does it keep good time? Dial – Look for cracks, fading of the dial face or discolouring.  With dial faces get a strong magnifying glass and look very closely for hairline cracks or stressed areas.

Case – Again with the case look for scratches, chips, dents and general condition.  What is the case made of? Inscriptions will likely reduce value unless for someone famous. Think of today’s market place.  There are watches you can buy for a few dollars and all the way through to many thousands of dollars.  Like us human beings not all watches are created equal and it was the same when Elgin was producing pocket watches in the 1900s.

All movements are set on jewels with the bog standard being 7 jewels.  The more jewels the movement is set on then the smoother the watch will run and as such generally speaking the more valuable it will be. For Elgin specifically the term railroad grade is significant. If you have read my Elgin history post then you will understand that these  Elgin watches were first designed for the railroads.

Making sure trains ran on time was important and so this grade is better than a standard grade and as such will be more valuable. The final part of your appraisal is to understand that some watches may be stamped with a five position adjustment.  These are adjustments that are designed to keep the watch very accurate depending on temperature, face up or down and crown up or down.  For value purposes an adjustment watch has more value.

[embedded content] By now you should have gathered a lot of important information about your watch.  My strong suggestion is that you write all this information down and take it with you if you consider the watch is going to hold significant value. It will help make the valuation easier and more importantly stop you from getting ripped off.  I hope you have found this Elgin pocket watch appraisal of some value.

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Hazel Gordon

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