Society, Sporting, and Fancy Dials by the Elgin National Watch Company
When Henry Abbott patented his unique technique to apply intricate designs to watch dials in 1884, the rights for use were immediately assigned to the Elgin National Watch Company.
Capitalizing on an increasing demand for fancy watch dials in America, Elgin introduced a comprehensive product line of “Society, Sporting, and Fancy” dials using Abbott’s transfer process.
In August 1889, the company published a catalog of the specialty designs offered, highlighted by the dials for various fraternal organizations such as the Freemasons, Odd Fellows, and Knights of Pythias. In addition to these dials, scenes depicting special interests were also available, including fishing, yachting, and horse racing. Each primary design was produced in several variations, offering the customer options for Roman or Arabic numerals with distinct styles.
According to the catalog introduction, the dials were furnished in 18, 16, 6, and 0 sizes and available in either “colors or plain” with “double-sunk or sunk seconds” in hard or glass enamel.
The November 1889 issue of The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review mentioned the new catalog, humorously drawing attention to the fact that the factory was running behind on orders:
“The Elgin National Watch Co. are still behind on their orders, and their new illustrated catalogue would in view of this fact seem needless advertising. It is, however, receiving many compliments from the trade here, especially that portion of it illustrating fancy watch dials in black and colors.”November 1889 issue of The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review
The society dials were still available when the company distributed the 1896 Material Catalog, but the line was discontinued by the time the 1915 catalog was published.
The original 1889 Elgin Society, Sporting, and Fancy Dials Catalog has been digitized and available for viewing online: