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Railroad Pocket Watch Provided Accuracy

As railroads became ever more important in America, so did the need to keep the trains on accurate schedules. The safe and efficient operation of the railroad operation required accurate timekeepers, not only to coordinate arrivals and departures, but even more important, to manage track occupancy. This need led to the development of the railroad pocket watch.

The conductor and engineer were required to synchronize an accurate pocket watch with a designated time standard, station tower, or chronometer in each station. However, at first there was no standard that operated from one railroad to another.

In 1866, the American Watch Company of Waltham, Massachusetts, contracted with the Pennsylvania Railroad to provide watches with specifications required by the railroad, marking the first time that at least all the personnel within a company had the same timekeeping equipment.The last railroad pocket watches made on contract were made by the Hamilton Watch Co. of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1969. After that time, they were replaced by wristwatches.

By the 1920s, some generally accepted standards prevailed among the different railroads. The watches needed adjustments for heat, cold and five positions. They needed an accuracy of 30 seconds per week. An open-face case with a 16-size movement (1.7 inches) was required.

There were regular inspection systems checking the accuracy of the watches. This data was kept on a card or small booklet, and is an interesting “go with” for anyone who collects railroad watches. Occasionally, the inspector was an employee of the railroad, but more often he was a locally authorized, independent watchmaker, who could not only rate the timepiece, but also clean and repair it if such was needed.

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Pottery Was Designed For Slow Cooking

Colonoware was a low-fired pottery that provided the slow cooking used for dishes that are thought of as typically Southern. These dishes typically incorporated hominy and okra.

Food was not only prepared but also served and cooked in these covered pots on plantations in South Carolina and Virginia from very early colonial days until the early 1800s.

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Lacquered Cannon Shells Used
As Decorated Vases

Lacquer work from Korea is quite scarce, and there was almost none made for export. And since the country has been continually invaded throughout its history, very little early work survives in Korea itself. However, during the middle of the 20th century, an interesting type of lacquer work was done and may occasionally be available.

This is the lacquer-decorated cannon shell. Following the Korean War, a large quantity of empty cannon shells were left by the American Army. The Koreans reclaimed them and turned them into lovely lacquer vases, decorated with inlaid mother-of-pearl designs.

The vases are heavy. The cannon shells weighed about five pounds; the finished vases, empty of powder and primer, may weigh over four pounds.

A few cannon-shell vases were exported. Many were brought home by veterans.

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