Recent Acquisitions

How the Watch was Worn: A Fashion for 500 Years

How the Watch was WornGenevieve Cummins opens her brief introduction, "This is a book on the manner, style and fashion of the wearing of watches for men and women.  The working of the watch has received much deserved attention...the decoration has also been well covered.  The wearing, however, has been sadly neglected."  And really, what could be more interesting than how objects are used?  Cummins explains her research methodology, most of which sounds like  the work of a lifetime.  She examines images of people wearing watches: 17th - 19th century portraits and engravings.  The British Museum collection of trade cards, "provided an astonishing insight into the items and makers of the times."  Fashion plates from books and print-sellers for both the wearers and objects themselves proved vital to her study.  And of course, the watches and accoutrement themselves are gorgeous.  This is an Antique Collectors' Club publication   -- the realization of which makes lovers of decorative arts weak in the knees.  Cummins discusses how watches were hung from the clothing, something not so simple it turns out.  She details the hooks, encrusted with gold and jewels, that were described in police reports, lost as "pick-pocketed."   Look closely at Hogarth's satirical engravings, but don't miss his dramatic portraits either.

It is Victorian photography, however, that constitutes the major portion of How the Watch was Worn. These photographs bring our wearers of watches into the living world.  Gazing out, perhaps wearing their fashionable best, we see how they hold their bodies as they want to be viewed.  They are simply amazing.  Waist -hung, brooch watches,vest chains, Dickens chains proliferated in New York after Charles Dickens visited, fob chains ... wait, there's more!  Ring watches, pencil watches, even watches gone to war and ward.  If one ever needs to know how to wear that inherited watch and complicated chain, it can be found here.  What happens to the watch at night, is especially intriguing to this reader. Our author concludes with transition and wrist watches -- a beautiful and complicated chapter about the 20th century.  Of course, ACC includes mega-bibliography and an index.  Bravo, Antiques Collectors' Club!