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Classic watches, watchmaking, antique tools, history, vintage ephemera and more!

Learn about mechanical timepieces and how they work, the history of the American watch industry and especially all about the Elgin National Watch Company! Check back for new content daily.

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The Collector

From The American Horologist magazine, April 1945

The Collector

Mike was a United States soldier whose hobby was "collecting" gold teeth and watches from dead Japs on a South Pacific island. He didn't divulge this avocation to his superiors for fear of being reprimanded. Only a few of his closest buddies knew about it. But Mike was very cautious at all times as he crept over the jungle terrain toward the silent form of a Nip. His buddies warned him many times of the dangers involved but Mike retorted bruskly: "I can take good care of myself!" He was very proud of his collections. He had a small Bull Durham cigarette bag which he filled with the gold teeth and a wooden box which he used for the watches. Often he would dream of the day when he would return to his small town in Pennsylvania and show these precious souvenirs to everybody. Descended from a long line of Pennsylvania miners, he figured "collecting" teeth and watches was the next best thing to do.

But one day as he was about to make another haul, a Jap sniper shot a bullet into his back. Fortunately, it wasn't fatal. From that moment on, Mike decided not to pursue his precarious hobby. To show his appreciation for coming out of the fracas alive, he presented everyone in his outfit a gold tooth - or a watch! 


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