This summer, Graphic Arts intern Dominique Ledoux, a student at Wellesley College, created an inventory of the Society’s collection of 464 watch papers. Watch papers are round decorative papers placed between the inner and outer case of a pocket watch to protect its inner workings. They also served as advertisements for watchmakers as they often included names and addresses along with elaborate designs. Popular iconography included Father Time, Aurora in her chariot, cherubs, allegorical women, Masonic symbols, hourglasses, clocks and eagles. Most of the papers are engraved, although a few are letterpress printed. Famous engravers including Peter Maverick, Paul Revere, and Nathaniel Hurd are represented in the collection.
Currently, the collection is being digitized and by December 2011, the images will accompany Ledoux’s inventory in an electronic resource on the Society’s website. If you just cannot wait until then, we have put a selection of watch papers on display in the AAS reading room for you to examine.