Thursday, June 20, 2019

Welcome back to NSW, my baby

In the late 1880’s the Australian state of New South Wales was a bit like the Wild West... Mainly - two problems: trains not arriving on time and train robberies.
NSW Government Railway was the department in charge of railways from 1855 to 1972. After a major railway incident that occurred in the US, the NSW Government ordered that every train driver and station master be issued with a precision time-keeper - a pocket watch.  Batches of railroad watches were ordered from the American Watch Company - Waltham, Massachusetts. Every issued pocket watch in NSW had its individual number engraved on the case back and some examples also had the owner's name. In addition, train drivers were also issued with a gun, bearing the same number as the one engraved on their watch.
Thanks to newly arrived watches, trains eventually got better with timetables, however, the robbery bit was an ongoing issue until the 1950’s. "Robbery from the Mudgee Mail 'Reward of five hundred pounds, with ten per cent on value of money recovered not including cheques'" was just another news story of the day.
Since watches remained Government property, they had to be handed over at retirement. Consequently, only a handful of GR pocket watches have managed to find their way into private collections and today they are regarded as some of the most sought after Australian timepieces.
GR number 250 dating from 1889 is the earliest numbered NSW Government Rail watch in private collection. It was sold 6 years ago at a Queensland auction, then stored, until it hit the market late Sunday night. Welcome back to NSW, my baby.
Now, if we can only find that Government issued gun...

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