On a quiet May morning in 1934, the most wanted bank-robbing gangster Clyde Barrow and his equally notorious accomplice Bonnie Parker fatally drove their car into an FBI ambush. The posse of lawmen fired over 130 bullets at the cornered couple, and when the smoke cleared, Bonnie and Clyde were dead.
Barrow was carrying his Elgin pocket watch when he met his violent end. That watch along with several other effects from the couple is being auctioned September 30 in New Hampshire and may bring between $50,000 and $100,000. The watch is an Elgin 17-jewel, ¾-plate, 16-size, open-face, 10K, gold-filled pocket watch, in its original Wadsworth screw-back and bezel case. It has stem winding and setting, with a railroad-style double-sunk dial, bold Arabic numerals, and bold blued-steel hands.
In the 1930s the criminal deeds of Bonnie and Clyde were celebrated in word and song. Their crime spree between 1931 and 1934 resulted in the robbery of over a dozen banks and numerous rural stores and gas stations in several states in the Midwest and the South. Thirteen killings have been blamed on the gang.
Watch Description: Elgin National Watch Company, 17 jewel ¾ plate, 16 size open-face 10K gold-filled pocket watch, in original Wadsworth screwed-back and bezel case, movement serial #28683536, case serial #6476773, stem winding and setting, with railroad style impressed double-sunk dial, bold Arabic numerals and bold blued-steel hands. The watch is accompanied by an affidavit from Clyde Barrow’s sister attesting to the watch having been worn by her brother at the time of his death, and returned to her father with Barrow’s personal effects. The watch was carried by the father in his son’s honor until the time of the father’s death, when it became property of the sister. The watch was produced by Elgin circa 1925.
Condition Report: In good running order, the movement condition fine overall, the dial with various hairline fractures that have darkened with age. Such fractures can be the result of natural stresses in the porcelain that finally resolve themselves into cracks, from impact or compression stress on the dial during its lifetime, or a combination of both factors. The watch currently has no crystal, but some watchmakers will have available stocks of old beveled glass crystals with mild curvature that the watch would have had originally. The hands are in fine blue with some light oxide and rubbing. The case has a few light soft dents to the case-back in particular, not an uncommon feature to watches that have been used over the years, but suggesting occasional rough handling or environment. The inside case-back has a few tiny scratched numerals or codes that are watchmakers’ repair marks for servicing, any of which could have been undertaken before or after Barrow’s death. The crown, bow and pendant are rather worn from winding and setting, but the case body is still quite fresh and without brassing, indicating some care in handling. Gold filled cases, unlike plated cases, are constructed from gold sheet fused to brass sheet and then extruded, resulting in usually one tenth of the weight of the case being solid 10 karat gold. Detail pictures were shot outside in natural daylight, and show some tree and sky reflection. The coloring of all plates, components and case are normal. This story is courtesy of the NAWCC