Watch Papers
by Richard McKinstry

Watch papers are small printed round paper inserts that were placed in pocket watches to protect their inner workings from dust. They were printed on one side with the names and addresses of the watchmaker or fixer, and a manufacturing or repair date was often handwritten on the paper. Some bore intricate illustrations, often showing allegorical figures and even timepieces. Despite their importance as a practical complement to watches and examples of printing art, a modern Webster's dictionary slights them, proclaiming that a watch paper is "an old-fashioned ornament for the inside of a watchcase made of paper fancifully cut or printed."

Images and text below provided by Ron Schieber

Size of the watch papers shown is approximately 2 inches in diameter. Papers/Labels are hand dated about 50% of the time and are often found with considerable ageing and wear. I have yet to see one with a printer's I.D. The first pocket watches originated in 16th Century Tudor England. The first reliable time piece for ocean navigation was developed for Queen Anne in the 1700s by John Harrison. At that time pocket watches were a prestigious item, and at one time in America they were taxed by some state governments. Fourteen carat solid gold was taxed at a higher rate. The first wristwatch was developed by Patek Philippe in the 19th Century (1868). Wristwatches were considered a ladies item until World War I, when soldiers began using them. For more clock, pocket and wrist watch information check Wikipedia.


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Oval bordered with scallops, clock in center. Ornamental border, Lady seated holding oval sign, surmounted by a clock. Seated youths Commerce & Time, canal boat in background.
 Ornamental border, pocket watch. Fancy flowered border, all text. Simple flowered border, all text on yellow paper.


Crescent Watch Case Co. Front and back folder.


1892 Insurance Advertisement, 2-sided. Six months per printed by Livermore and Knight.


   © 2012 The Ephemera Society of America