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1881 Trade Card Promoting The Ladd Patent Stiffened Gold Watch Case

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The Ladd Stiffened Gold Watch Case Trade Card, c.1881
The Ladd Stiffened Gold Watch Case Trade Card, c.1881

George W. Ladd secured a patent in 1867 for his novel method of manufacturing cases. In this process, the center frame of the case could be formed using a combination of gold and a cheaper composition metal.

Ladd partnered with case manufacturer J.A. Brown & Co. to introduce an inexpensive case to the market in 1868 as an alternative to premium gold and silver cases.

In addition to the novel manufacturing process for creating the case center, the Ladd “Stiffened Gold” watch cases were also constructed with gold-filled material, similar to other inexpensive alternatives offered at the time. The outer layers were gold, while the inner layer was made of nickel alloy.

In promotional materials, Ladd and Brown favored the term “Stiffened Gold,” highlighting the notion of a stronger material to provide substantial ruggedness compared to solid gold cases.

This trade card, distributed around 1881, exhibits a lovely engraved illustration on the front and a detailed description of the Ladd Stiffened Gold watch case on the reverse:


The Ladd Stiffened Gold Watch Case Trade Card, c.1881 [Reverse]
The Ladd Stiffened Gold Watch Case Trade Card, c.1881 [Reverse]

“The client requisites of a Watch Case are ample protection to the watch movement, beauty of design, and symmetry in its proportions. In a good, substantial, solid gold case, fully one half the gold is required to give the necessary strength and stiffness to the frame and covers, and such a case will completely outwear the watch movement. THE LADD PATENT STIFFENED GOLD WATCH CASE, in strength, appearance and mechanical construction, is fully the equal of a heavy 60 dwt. solid one, and consists of two sheets of solid gold overlaying an interior one of nickel composition. (This interior one is as hard, tough, and elastic, as if it were of solid gold, and gives it its strength and stiffness.) The inside gold one being sufficient thickness for all the necessary wear required of it, while the outside one is [damaged] thick and heavy, to bear the most elaborate engraved and engine turned ornamentation for which the LADD CASE has never been equalled. Its great superiority over all others consists in the great strenth and stiffness of its centre rim and covers; in the beauty and symmetry of its proportions.” The Ladd Stiffened Gold Watch Case Trade Card, c.1881 [Reverse]

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