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Burt's Patent

What is Burt's Patent?

Very early Elgin watches are marked "Burt's Patent".

Burt was Merritt Burt (1828-1849) and his invention, later improved by Moseley, protected the watch train in case of breakage of the click, click spring or mainspring; patent No. 44,161 dated September 13, 1864.

From the History of the City of Elgin, published by The Chicago Republican, 1867:

Another advantage will highly recommend itself particularly to the absentminded. Everybody knows that whenever the click-spring of a watch gets out of order, or the click itself breaks, the entire power of the spring acts directly upon the train, and a disaster must occur somewhere, and some of its delicate parts must give way. Most everybody knows, too, that a thoughtless turn too much with the key will very likely break the mainspring, with a like disastrous result to the train. The possibility of these calamities is entirely obviated here by the peculiar construction of the center pinion, which receives its motion from the barrel wheel, and communicates it through the center wheel to the rest of the train. 

In all other watches, the center pinion and staff are one piece. Through the center pinion of the National watch is a tapering hole, and the center staff is turned with a corresponding taper to fit. A concave or screw washer and a nut hold the pinion up. The staff thus fitting closely to the pinion, there is friction enough between them to prevent revolution, and to carry the train. Should the spring break, however, the recoil, instead of acting upon the train, simply turns the pinion around the staff, and no harm results to the train. This improvement, the invention of Mr. MERRITT BURT, of Cleveland, Ohio, which is exclusively owned by the National Watch Company, is called Burts patent,and alone gives a practical value to this watch over all others in existence.

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