Clyde Barrow’s pocket watch recovered from his body on the morning of May 23, 1934, after being mortally wounded by Captain Frank Hamer and other peace officers. Elgin National Watch Company, 17 jewel 3/4 plate, 16 size open-face 10K gold-filled pocket watch, in original Wadsworth screwed-back and bezel case, movement serial #28683536, case serial #6476773, stem winding and setting, with railroad style impressed double-sunk dial, bold Arabic numerals and bold blued-steel hands. The watch is accompanied by a copy of a 1997 notarized letter from Marie Barrow, Clyde Barrow’s sister, which reads, in part: “The Elgin Pocket Watch…belonged to my brother Clyde Barrow and was being worn by him on the morning of May 23, 1934, when he and Bonnie Parker were killed by Captain Frank Hamer and the other Peace Officers under his command. On hearing of the death of my brother, my father, Henry Barrow, went to Arcadia, Louisiana, to accompany the body of his son back to Dallas. Among Clyde’s personal effects given to my father was the watch described above. In memory of his son, he wore this watch until his death on June 19, 1957.”
Condition report: In good running order, the movement condition fine overall, the dial with various hairline fractures that have darkened with age. Such fractures can be the result of natural stresses in the porcelain that finally resolve themselves into cracks, from impact or compression stress on the dial during its lifetime, or a combination of both factors. The watch currently has no crystal, but some watchmakers will have available stocks of old beveled glass crystals with mild curvature that the watch would have had originally. The hands are in fine blue with some light oxide and rubbing. The case has a few light soft dents to the case-back in particular, not an uncommon feature to watches that have been used over the years, but suggesting occasional rough handling or environment. The inside case-back has a few tiny scratched numerals or codes that are watchmaker‘s repair marks for servicing, any of which could have been undertaken before or after Barrow’s death. The crown, bow and pendant are rather worn from winding and setting, but the case body is still quite fresh and without brassing, indicating some care in handling. Gold filled cases, unlike plated cases, are constructed from gold sheet fused to brass sheet and then extruded, resulting in usually one tenth of the weight of the case being solid 10 karat gold. Detail pictures were shot outside in natural daylight, and show some tree and sky reflection. The coloring of all plates, components and case are normal.
While the majority of their possessions were claimed by Hamer or stolen by the aggressive crowd that swarmed the car upon its arrival in Arcadia, a few personal effects did make it into the hands of Bonnie’s and Clyde’s families. Along with his bloody coat, shot full of holes, this 1925 Elgin pocket-watch was returned to Clyde’s father, Henry Barrow. As Marie Barrow’s letter states, Henry wore this watch until his death in 1957 as a reminder of his lost son. By far the finest and most personal of the Clyde Barrow items retrieved on that fateful day.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.