Manheimer Watch Co.

Resurrecting the Hampden brand

In 1930 with Amtorg’s agreement, use of the Dueber-Hampden name was assigned to the Receiver. He transferred it to some former employees who set up The Dueber-Hampden Service Department in Canton. Part of the agreement with Amtorg had been for the Soviets to export parts back to Canton, but this did not become a reality. The Service Department was owned by the Anderson Bros., two former Dueber-Hampden employees and was operating out of the Zinninger Building until the early 1940's.


Registration of the Hampden name was abandoned, in effect it ceased to be used in 1923 when the Hampden and Dueber companies were amalgamated. The best explanation of how the name came back into use is found in James W. Gibbs book. When Gibbs compiled the original Hampden Story in the very early 1950's, he wrote to the Hampden Watch Company of Chicago IL,.

 

"We were put in touch with the Hampden Watch Company of Chicago, Illinois. Mr Arthur E. Manheimer, the President, wrote to me that when the machinery, equipment, inventory and materials were sold to Russia in 1930, good-will and trade marks were not sold. The trade name Hampden having been abandoned by the Dueber-Hampden Company, three companies, including his own, applied for registration of the name or a similar sounding name for jewellery items. His company subsequently made contact with the other two companies and acquired all of their right, title and interest in the name Hampden, which his company has been using since 1939. Their application for registration of the name in connection with watches was perfected in 1940".

What Manheimer's letter did not explain was the reasons why he had become the President of the Hampden Watch Co., when he had previously been involved with the Manheimer Watch Co., a successful business operating out of 31 North State Street, Chicago, with a similar inventory. It took the discovery of an obscure court transcript to unravel the mystery. The case in question is 'Lowenthal v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue' and the transcript provides a definitive account of the circumstance behind the resurrection of the Hampden name.

Arthur E. Manheimer was born in Kansas City on the 14th of April 1888; he graduated from Harvard College in 1909 and gained a Law Degree from the Harvard Law School in 1912, after which he practiced in Chicago. In 1917 he was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Signals Reserve Corps and served in France, during WWI, as Supply Officer for the 415th Railway Telegraph Battalion. After the war he returned to Chicago and practice law for a few years before purchasing part of the family business, the Manheimer Watch Co. As previously stated he formed the Hampden Watch Company in 1940 and ran it for some 17 years. He died in December 1957 after a short illness.

 

Arthur Manheimer was past President of the National Wholesale Jewellers Association. On Dec. 18th 1934 there is a newspaper report about trade tariffs on imports from Switzerland. These were said by American chemists, watch, clock and lace makers to be "ruinous" to business in those fields in this country. The watch makers' attitude was expressed by Arthur E. Manheimer. president of the Manheimer Watch Company of Chicago and President of the National Wholesale Jewelers Association in testimony before the committee on reciprocity trade agreements he said. "The Swiss have 50 per cent of the American watch industry" he said. "They also have Canada, Mexico, South America and practically every other country in the world. "We can't compete with them in other markets. Our manufacturers do all their business right here in America. Why don't the Swiss leave us alone?".
He was also an active member of the Alliance Française and a supporter of the World Federation for World Government.

 

The Manheimer era watches are difficult to distinguish from later Clinton era watches, as in effect the method of manufacture changed very little.

Arthur Manheimer Patent 1932 

Early 1941 advertisement from a Soden's publication. Note that all the watches have sub second hands. 

In my opinion many Hampden wristwatches from the Manheimer and Clinton period between 1940 and 1980 are classically stylish, utilise quality components and as such were accurate and reliable. They were amongst the ones I first purchased to start my small collection; which coincidentally, includes one circa 1960s model with a Soviet First Moscow Watch Factory 2414 movement.

John Adler.

Either just before, or just after, the time of Manheimer's death the business was sold to a Mr. John Alder. However, his tenure ended abruptly, according to the Chicago Tribune report below... On March 25th 1958 he jumped to his death from the 18th floor of his office block. One of his employees, Melvin Dicker, the company's assistant treasurer, said Alder had been depressed about the business and had contemplated selling it.

That same year Hampden would be purchased by Hyman Wein owner & founder of the Clinton Watch Company, also of Chicago. Mel Dicker carried on working for the Wein family for many years.

I'm grateful to Joseph Wein for drawing my attention to this article.

© CHICAGO DAILY TRIBUNE. 

A collection of adverts from 1940 to 1968. These will help to identify the age of a Manheimer or Wein era watch.

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