Time for a New Illustrated Inventory – Watch Papers

After many years of inventorying, identifying and digitizing, the Society’s collection of nearly 500 watch papers are now available as an illustrated inventory! Watch papers are small, decorative pieces of paper or cloth that are meant to protect the mechanisms of watches, and were also used to indicate when a watch was last repaired and by whom. The subjects of the images are varied, and include scenes of Father Time, beehives, horses, factories and of course watches.

In 1951, AAS staffer Dorothea Spear cataloged all of the watch papers in the collection, publishing her findings in the Society’s Proceedings that year. It wasn’t until 2011 that Wellesley College intern Dominique Ledoux took on the challenge of updating the list, making an editable digital list. At the same time, our photographer digitized the fronts and backs of each watch paper. All of that information has once again been updated and has come together to create an easily searchable visual inventory.

New to this exhibit is the “Browse” tab. As there are so many items in this inventory, this feature makes it much easier to sort the items by the watchmaker/jeweler. Simply click on the tab, and click on “Creator” in the “Sort by” menu. This will present an alphabetized list of all 493 items. As with all of the Omeka illustrated inventories, clicking on a tag will present a list of all of the other items that fall into this category, whether it be by watchmaker, location or subject matter. For a list of the other illustrated inventories available online, click here!


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Associate Curator of Graphic Arts, American Antiquarian Society

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