Vintage Personalized Wristwatches & the Stories They Tell
"You never actually own a watch...You merely look after it for the next generation"
New Stories –- June 2022
Time Capsule: 1930s Prohibition Gangster Morris Roisner & His Elgin Money clip
Morris Roisner was a notorious St. Paul Prohibition-Era bootlegger, kidnapper, & gangster. He served 3 years at Leavenworth Prison for income tax evasion.
St. Paul in the late 1920s and early 1930s was known as a “crooks’ haven” — a place for gangsters, bank robbers, and bootleggers from all over the Midwest to run their operations or to hide from the FBI – including John Dillinger, Ma Barker, & Baby Face Nelson.
Morris Roisner and his business partner Louis Gleckman ran (in cooperation with the St. Paul police) a huge bootlegging, slot machine & kidnapping operation, with yearly profits of over $1 million.
After his release from Leavenworth, Roisner joined a company that sold & serviced Wurlitzer juke boxes (and never reported the income...). In 1941, Wurlitzer presented Roisner with a custom 10k gold-filled Elgin money clip, embossed with the Wurlitzer logo; Morris Roisner’s was beautifully engraved for his own personal use
(You can also find his story on the <Presentation / Personal> menu above…)
The Time Capsule Collection of Vintage Watches
I have spent my entire life collecting something. 1950s baseball cards (yup, I had all the Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays cards...) -- and of course my Mom threw them all out when I went to college. Over the next fifty years, that morphed into Victorian Furniture, Victor Talking Machines / Nipper collectibles, 19th Century Advertising; Opera memorabilia – and finally, vintage personalized wristwatches.
Why? First, through the miracle of the Internet, the lives of the original owners have have been documented and preserved -- military heroes; athletes; community leaders. Second, each watch is unique -- it is the only one in the world. If you don't buy it, no amount of money can get it for you. And third, when I research the owner's family, I can return it to them for posterity.
"You never actually own a watch....you merely look after it for the next generation"
A small Marine Corps Eagle, Globe, & Anchor insignia was a welded to his band