Thursday, July 14, 2016

Where to Buy a Watch in the 1880s


While researching all things railroad related for my upcoming novel, A Touch of Texas Irish, I ran across this article in an online edition of Model Railroader Magazine.  It was posted by jacon12. I found another post on the Tri Five.com website posted by BamaNomad.

The obvious answer to the above question would be at a department or jewelry store, but in the1880s the railroad depot became the top seller of good watches for cheaper prices.

Richard, a telegraph operator in North Redwood, Minnesota station was on duty when a crate of pocket watches arrived. No one came to claim them, so the telegraph operator sent a telegram to the manufacturer to see what they wanted to do with them. The price to return them was more than the owner wanted to pay, so he asked Richard to see if he could sell them. He did so by sending a telegram to every agent in the system to see if they wanted a good, cheap pocket watch. In less than two day's he'd sold the entire case at a nice profit.

He ordered more watches and encouraged telegraph operators to display the watches in a case. It didn't take long for word to spread outside the train station and the business thrived.  Richard became so busy that he hired professional watch maker, Alvah, to help with orders. The business took off and they expanded to dry good stores.

Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck moved their business to Chicago and established Sears & Roebuck.




The above images are courtesy of Google Images

I love learning information such as this. You may have already known this story. I didn't so wanted to share with readers.

Thanks for stopping by today. Please leave a comment and I promise to reply.

Happy Reading and Writing!




10 comments:

  1. Linda, thanks for sharing this information. I came across the same when I wanted my hero to have a watch with a stopwatch feature--but my story was a few years too early for a stopwatch/pocketwatch combination.

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  2. Sometime history just doesn't cooperate, does it, Caroline? I've had that happen many times and had to alter my story. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. Well, who would have ever guessed Sears and Roebuck started out at a railroad selling pocket watches. What a surprising story, Linda.

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    1. It was to me, Sarah. I'd not heard this story before.

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  4. I never knew any of this! Fascinating. I remember your post last month on the Railroad watch, so this was an excellent addendum to that story. The best part--how Sears and Roebuck began.
    I truly enjoyed both the posts. My grandfather had a pocket watch on a chain and he let me play with it while sitting in his lap...he was so sweet. I was so enthralled with him and the watch I wrote a two page short story titled "The Watch" when I took Freshman English in college..when I was 27 years old! The instructor, Mrs. Harris, read it aloud to the class. Hmmm, I never thought I'd written anything..but I did! About a pocket watch!

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    1. How interesting about your short story, Ceila. I wish you'd share it with us sometime.

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    2. Let's see...that would have been about 50 years ago...I remember writing it and getting a grade on it, but have no idea what all I said. Oh, I do wish I had a copy.

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    3. Me too! I bet it's in a box somewhere, but where is the question. :-)

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  5. Add me to the list of surprised readers who never knew the origin of Sears and Roebuck! Thanks, Linda.

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  6. You're welcome Cheri. Isn't it fun to learn new things!!!

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