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The Early Process of Dial Making at the National Watch Company: Part 2

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Continuing the article from yesterday describing the early process of dial production at the National Watch Company:

“Then the dial goes to an artist, who, holding it under a magnifier, paints the words “National Watch Co.” in black enamel with a fine camel’s hair brush. The inscription measures three-fourths of an inch from left to right, and less than one-ninetieth of an inch up and down; but even then it is perfectly legible; and the swift, cunning fingers will paint it twice in five minutes.

“Is it not very trying to your eyes?”

“If I were to do it all day, or even for an hour steadily,” the painter replies, “they would ache terribly. But I put the inscription on two dozen dials, and then rest my sight by painting on the figures, lines, and dots.”

“My father,” observes the superintendent of the room, who is looking over his shoulder, “was an English dial painter. Once he traced the Lord’s Prayer with one of these camel’s-hair brushes on a surface one-eight of an inch long by one-ninth of an inch wide. Half the wing of a common house-fly would cover it. It aged the old gentleman’s eye twenty years for his work, but he could see objects at a distance just as well as ever.” One can only wonder that it did not strike him blind.”

Pictured: Early Dial from the National Watch Company, c.1867.
Pictured: Early Dial from the National Watch Company, c.1867.

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