Saturday, May 25, 2024

The 1858 - From a Friend For a Friend

As a matter of full-disclosure, I (James Henderson) am the owner of the Oberlin Watch Company.

Ladies and gentlemen, and children of all ages, I am very proud to introduce you to the 1858 from the Oberlin Watch Company.

When I introduced the first quartz pieces back during the pandemic, there were some who thought that I had "re-birthed" a defunct French watch brand. That notion was based on the existence of a pocket chronograph that had been produced by the Oberlin Pharmaceutical  Company, of France back in the 1900s - 

As far as anyone knows, the Oberlin pocket watches were manufactured to be given as promotional gifts to doctors and pharmacists in an effort to promote the Oberlin Pharmaceutical Company. These watches were manufactured in Besançon, France.

So in other words, there was never an Oberlin Watch Company. But there is one NOW!

Courtesy of D.N. Mason

So for those just tuning in, the 1858 is what we're calling an (Underground) Railroad Watch. The great Kipton train wreck that forced the dramatic improvements in the manufacture of pocket (railroad) watches and standardization of scheduling and timekeeping, happened within virtually walking distance of Oberlin. So there is certainly a train connection to my hometown. But dig a little deeper into Oberlin history, and you will learn about the Oberlin - Wellington Rescue -

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Long story short? John Price was an escaped slave who had found his way to Oberlin. Under the fugitive slave act, the government would assist slave owners by capturing and returning those lucky enough to escape in the first place who were unlucky enough to be discovered and identified as an escaped slave. And this is exactly the fate that befell John Price. He was spirited away by a Marshall and small group of henchmen to Wellington, the town next door where they intended to hop onto the first thing smoking the next day and forcibly take John Price back to Kentucky.

From a Friend For a Friend -

In his short time in Oberlin, John Price had made some friends. More than he probably knew. Because as word spread of his abduction, the townspeople of Oberlin got together, met with like-minded folks in Wellington, and when negotiations for Price's release failed? They forced their way into the hotel that Mr. Price's abductors had been holed-up in, and found him in the attic. They took him back to Oberlin, where he was hidden in the basement of future Oberlin College president James Harris Fairchild. Shortly thereafter he was taken to Canada, the last stop on the Underground Railroad. 

The Oberlin Watch Company was born out of a request from a friend - could you make a watch for us? The first series sold out before it was even produced. It would seem that the Oberlin Watch Company had more friends than we realized ; )

The pre-sale of the 1858 sold out, but we will have a handful of pieces available for those who joined us late.   

Stay tuned!

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