Kitzmiller Waynesboro Jewelry Store Astronomical Clock
This clock has wonderful Waynesboro, Pa. provenance and I am proud to have it in my collection. Enjoy reading about its history!
Serial# 118702: Manufactured 1875 for display in the 1876 Centennial International Exposition held in Philadelphia. The U.S. Centennial Commission Review & Awards printed in 1880 p.64 & p.70 mention & describe this Gustav Becker Astronomical Clock as seen at the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition.
Signed on the rear plate Gustav Becker, Freiberg i/S (in Schlesien) Crown over anchor mark. Front and rear plates are stamped serial #118702.
Gustav Eduard Becker
Born: May 2, 1819 in Oels, Silesia
Died: September 17, 1885 in Berchtesgaden
Early Life: Becker learned clock-making in Silesia and enriched his skills by learning from many masters around Germany which, during that era, was the most important country in the clock industry. His great skills gave him the ability to fix clocks at the most intricate level. During his time in Vienna, he decided to start his own clock factory.
Early Career: Becker came back to Silesia in 1845, and got married. In 1847, he settled in Freiburg, Lower Silesia (now Swiebodzice, Poland), and that April he opened a small clock shop with a few employees to whom he taught clock-making. First, he created clocks in the Viennese model, and thanks to his success, in 1850 he moved his business to a better business center.
Owned by Samuel McKee Kitzmiller (Shippensburg & Waynesboro, Pa.) and passed down through the Kitzmiller family until sold at Fontaine’s Auction September 9, 2017. Believed to have been purchased with the jewelry store that Kitzmiller bought from A. O. & A. M. Frick, Waynesboro, Pa. in 1891. The surviving Kitzmiller family passed information on to me that Samuel Kitzmiller did buy this clock as part of the purchase of a Waynesboro jewelry store.
Samuel McKee Kitzmiller
Born: September 19, 1871
Died: January 17, 1929
1889: Graduated from Shippensburg Normal School (now Shippensburg College).
June 17, 1891 Keystone Gazette, Waynesboro announces in a full page ad that there will be a “ Retiring From Business Grand Auction Sale of watches, diamonds, jewelry, clocks and silverware” from the jewelry store and stock of A. O. Frick & A. M. Frick Waynesboro, Pa. at 7 p.m.
Sept. 16, 1891 Reference: Jewelers Circular & Horological Review Vol. 23 Page 21? or 31?, 2nd column. “A. O. Frick successor to A. O. & A. M. Frick, Waynesboro, Pa. has sold his entire business to S. M. Kitzmiller, late of Shippensburg, Pa. who will continue the business.”
Sept. 23, 1891 Kitzmiller owns a “handsome jewelry store in Waynesboro.” Re: Jewelers Circular & Horological Review Sept. 23, 1891 Page 28. Note: This store was located at 43 East Main St. in the Dr. Bonebrake Building. Note: April 9, 1891 George W. Kohler was also listed as a jeweler in Waynesboro. 1897 J. G. Bierman and I. Fider (sp?) listed as jewelers in Waynesboro at unknown locations.
1893 Same above referenced journal lists Kitzmiller as a jeweler in Waynesboro who visited the Columbian Exposition in Chicago as a “sightseer,” Sept. 6, 1893 (journal referenced )
Oct. 22, 1896 S. M. Kitzmiller listed in the local Waynesboro newspaper as a jeweler and attending a local social function.
April 8, 1899 Village Record newspaper of Waynesboro, Pa. “Jeweler S. M. Kitzmiller on Saturday, sold his stock and fixtures to Mr. W. J. Alrich of Elkton, Md. Mr. Alrich took immediate possession.” Note: The Waynesboro Record Herald Sept. 10, 1901 posted an announcement that Jeweler W. J. Alrich sold his stock and goods to W. T. Jenkins of West Virginia who will take possession on Sept. 28.
Jan. 13, 1909 S. M. Kitzmiller Shippensburg, Pa. listed as director of G. C. & W. St. Ry. Co. Shippensburg.
Sept. 10, 1913 S. M. Kitzmiller, Shippensburg and his brother buy Mt. Holly Paper Co. and land at public auction for $30,015. The Kitzmiller’s sold this business on Aug. 25, 1915 and both brothers were listed as living in Shippensburg.
Sept. 28, 1919 Shippensburg newspaper refers to S. M. Kitzmiller formerly of Waynesboro (so still living in Shippensburg).
Dec. 14, 1921 Record Herald Newspaper, Waynesboro reports that Kitzmiller retires as board member of Frick Co. and sells his stock.
Nov. 13, 1925 S. M. Kitzmiller and other local prominent Waynesboro citizens purchase many tracts of former Geiser properties on the south side of Main St. (nothing on the north side). (Deed book 221 Page 292) Note: 43 East Main St. was sold to A. R. Warner, contractor, by Dr. Bonebrake. Kitzmiller has not been associated with this building since he sold his jewelry store in 1899.
April. 1, 1926 S. M. Kitzmiller and wife purchase the property at 120 East 3rd. St, Waynesboro. Deed Book 223-- Page 333.
Success: His breakthrough came in 1852 at the Silesian Clock Fair. Crowds
were drawn to his works because of the quality, and he was awarded the gold
medal for the best clock at the fair. In 1854 he received large orders from the
Royal Mail, and the Silesian Telegraphy Center. After the orders, he received a fortune from the Duke of Martibore, and with this money he could pay enough to make clock cases for train stations. In the 1860’s, he began to create the Classical Gustav Becker clocks. Starting from fairly simple clocks, the clocks became complex and very ornamental, and sales rose to a peak in 1875, with over 300,000 clock orders. He won at clock fairs in London, Paris, Sydney, Melbourne, Berlin and Amsterdam.
DESCRIPTION OF THIS ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK
Gustav Becker Astronomical Floor Regulator. The 30-day movement is housed in a Victorian Renaissance Revival walnut case measuring 9’ 4” tall. It is in the original finish. The movement was recently (2018) completely serviced including cleaning. It has been set to exact time and may lose only 10 seconds each month. (These clocks were the most accurate timepieces and were usually seen and used by the watch and clock repairmen in jewelry stores to set correct time to especially railroad watches which had to be accurate.)
The movement has a deadbeat escapement with jeweled pallets, cable barrel exposed on the rear plate, maintaining power, large brass covered weigh (approx. 16 lbs.), with a quality 4 spoke pulley, long steel pendulum rod with 2 glass jar mercurial compensating pendulum, silvered beat indicator and beat adjustment on the pendulum rod. The dial is a large 16” dia. German silvered bronze astronomical dial with sweep minutes, 5.5 inch inset sub hour dial above a 5.5.inch sub seconds dial, quality blued hands and gilt bronze bezel.
For further Kitzmiller biographical info: History of the Cumberland Valley, Counties of Franklin and Cumberland Counties Vol. II 1930 by George Donehoo. Pages 223-224.
Kitzmiller was a very prominent Waynesboro citizen and served on the board of directors for Frick Company, Landis Company and Geiser Manufacturing where he was also President before his death.