E. Howard & Company History

Street clock by E. Howard & Co.

Street clock by E. Howard & Co.

The E. Howard & Co. clock and watch company was formed by Edward Howard and Charles Rice in 1858 after the demise of the Boston Watch Company. They bought the existing stock but were unable to buy the existing factory so they moved to Roxbury. They decided to concentrate on high quality watches using unique designs.

Early History

E. Howard & Co. was famous for high grade watches, regulators, and marine clocks. The E. Howard Watch & Clock Company was formed as a joint stock corporation on December 1, 1881 to succeed an earlier firm of similar name founded by Edward Howard (1813-1904). Howard, a clockmaking apprentice of Aaron Willard, Jr. had commenced business with David P. Davis, manufacturing high-grade wall clocks under the name of Howard & Davis in 1842. They also became known for their manufacture of sewing machines, fire engines and precision balances. About 1843, with a third partner, Luther Stephenson, they began to also manufacture tower clocks.

In 1857, David P. Davis left the firm and Howard & Davis was dissolved and was succeeded by E. Howard & Company. Both Howard and Davis had also been involved in watch manufacturing, somewhat unsuccessfully, since 1850, In 1857-8, Edward Howard finished and sold left over "Model 1857" material from the Boston Watch Co. under the name "Howard & Rice." In December of 1858, Howard finally bought out Rice's interest and began manufacturing watches of a new design, signed "E. Howard & Co." While the company name changed several times during the firm's watchmaking history, all watches it made continued to be signed "E. Howard & Co." throughout, with only minor exceptions. The Howard firm established itself as perhaps the premier American manufacturer of luxury watches from 1858 into the 1890s.

On March 24, 1861 the clock and watch businesses were combined into one joint stock corporation, the Howard Clock & Watch Company, which failed in 1863. Thereafter, Howard formed a new company called the Howard Watch & Clock Company (transposing clock & watch) on October 1, 1863, which was successful for some years but was reorganized in 1881 after financial setbacks of a few years previous.

In 1881, Edward Howard sold out his personal interests and retired, leaving the firm to new management. This firm continued the manufacture of many clock styles, primarily weight driven wall timepieces and regulators of fine quality. Only two common wall models, #5 and # 10, were produced as stock items, all others being manufactured by special order.

E. Howard Watch Co.

A precision astronomical regulator clock made by the E. Howard Clock Company

A precision astronomical regulator clock made by the E. Howard Clock Company

Watch manufacturing ceased in 1903, when the Howard name in association with watches was sold to the Keystone Watch Case Co. Keystone purchased the defunct US Watch Co. factory building in Waltham Mass. (The US Watch Co. of Waltham is not to be confused with an earlier company of the same name in Marion, NJ.) There Keystone manufactured watches signed "E. Howard Watch Co." These watches were of new designs and unlike those of the original Howard company. Clocks were manufactured at Roxbury, a part of Boston, but in the early 1930s the operation was moved to Waltham, MA.

Howard Clock Products

A new firm known as Howard Clock Products was formed November 5, 1934 to succeed the earlier firm. Clock production was on the wane, but precision gear cutting business kept the firm profitable, particularly from government contract work. Production of smaller clocks ceased in 1957 or 1958 and the last tower clock was produced in 1964.

However, in 1975, Dana J. Blackwell, as a new Vice President of the firm, revived clock production, reintroducing several of the more popular models to the market. Movements in these later clocks maintained the high standards the Howard firm had become famous for and cases were made to very strict specifications.

Sadly, the older owners of the firm sold the business to a young seemingly successful businessman in August 1977. He eventually fired most of the firm's knowledgeable management and proceeded to drain it financially. By 1980, when the firm was at the verge of bankruptcy, the new manager was caught attempting to blow up the factory building. After a lengthy trial he was convicted, though never served any time in jail.

At the time of the arrest, the Federal Government stepped in and the Howard firm was placed under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. A manager was brought in by the bankruptcy court and after creditors were satisfied, the firm sold the clockmaking portion of the business to private investors who continue to offer Howard clocks.

E. Howard Historical Dates

  • 1842 E. Howard Clock Co. founded
  • 1845 Howard Clock factory built in Roxbury
  • 1850 American Horologe Company founded by E. Howard and A. L. Dennison, with financial backing from D. P. Davis
  • 1853 The first production watches completed, signed "Warren Manufacturing Co.," which evolved into the Waltham "Model 1857," the first successful industrially manufactured watch.
  • 1854 The Warren Mfg. Co. (previously, the American Horologe Co.) is renamed the Boston Watch Co.
  • 1857 Boston Watch Co. fails; Royal E. Robbins and partners purchase the machinery and most of the inventory, but Edward Howard teams with lienholder Chas. Rice to remove about 500 watches in progress to Roxbury; Both Robbins and Howard claim succession from the Boston Watch Co.
  • 1857-8 Howard finishes left over Boston Watch Co. Model 1857 material under the name "Howard & Rice"
  • 1858 Howard buys out Rice and the name of the watchmaking operation is changed to E. Howard & Co.
  • 1858 Production of "E. Howard & Co." watches begins based on Reed's divided plate 6-pillar design
  • 1861 Howard Watch and Clock Co. incorporated
  • 1862 3/4 plate watch production begins at Howard
  • 1863 Company reorganized
  • 1868 Howard introduces new steel safety barrel on watches with pendant winding and setting
  • 1873 New plant completed
  • 1879 Waltham Watch and Tool Co founded (U.S. Watch)
  • 1881 Company reorganized as E. Howard Watch and Clock Co.
  • 1882 Edward Howard retires
  • 18881896 U.S. Watch Co. produces "Suffolk" and "Columbia" watches
  • 1903 Howard Clock and watch manufacturing separated
  • 1903 Clock manufacturing company becomes E. Howard Clock Co.
  • 1903 E. Howard name for watches sold to Keystone Watch Case Co.
  • 1903 U.S Watch Co. sold to E, Howard Watch Co. (and Keystone)
  • 19031927 Howard watches produced in Waltham at U.S Watch factory
  • 1927 Howard name sold to Hamilton Watch Co.
  • 1927 Howard Clock Co. buys U.S. Watch factory from Keystone
  • 1933 Howard Clock Products Co. incorporated
  • 1933 to Present Howard Clock Products Co. manufactures clock and timer mechanisms

 

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