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Hopkins (Van Norman)
Watchmaker's Lathe
Watchmaker Lathes


The following is from Steve Franko in the United States to whom I am grateful for his considerable effort in tracking down the likely origins of this fine little lathe:

Tony:
While perusing your Unknown Lathes category in the Archives I would respectfully offer some reference information in regards to unknown item # 74, an early WW pattern lathe.  I would offer the possibility that this lathe is an early Hopkins WW pattern lathe from the Van Norman line.
The following documentation might prove helpful:

1.  From
Machinery's Handbook the 5th edition dated 1917, under the chart titled "Draw-Back Chucks for Bench Lathes" on page 791 in my copy are five listings for Van Norman Lathes numbering 1 through 5.  Number 3 indicating that this lathe took collets with a body diameter of 0.264 inches (6.7 mm). Your photograph description indicates that 6.7 mm, is the  possible collet body size.  In my personal listing of over 150 collet sizes for small WW lathes to small Bench lathes this is the only 6.7 mm I've found from reliable documentation of that era.

2.  From "The Watch & Clock Makers Handbook Dictionary and Guide" by F. J. Britten, 11th edition, dated 1915 under the definition of watchmaking lathes, on page 218 is an engraving of a Hopkins' WW lathe mounted with a Universal Headstock, with no T-rest but a unique style of Swing Tailstock - this being is almost identical to picture 4 below. The top half of the knob at the top center of the tailstock matches the picture of the reverse side as shown in your photographs - while the two mounting bolt heads on the face of the tailstock are also identical. Finally, from the engraving, notice the  tailstock runner and its limiting adjustment or "stop" on the rear of the runner - this also matches the photograph.

3. From documentation on Van Norman found on Wikipedia: "A pair of brothers surnamed Van Norman were the founders of the company.  Their names were Charles E. and Fred D. Van Norman.  They began their company as the Hopkins Watch Tool Company in Waltham, Massachusetts around 1874.  Their first products were watch repair lathes and associated tooling.  In 1883, they bought the name Waltham Watch Tool Company, as that company started watch production under the name of U.S. Watch Co.  It was at that time the move of address was to Springfield Mass." 

4.  Finally, a quote from 1902 edition of "
The Watchmakers Lathe It's use and Abuse" by Ward L. Goodrich. In regard to a Pivot Polishing attachment for WW lathes it says: "so far as we are able to ascertain the  first form of polisher was adapted to be used in the tool post of the lathe, and was invented by C. Hopkins Van Norman of the Waltham watch tool Co. about 1872". However, this makes me nervous about Wikipedia documentation on year dates, and caution is required. Apparently the Van Normans worked for the Waltham Watch Tool Co. prior to buying the company.  In the footnotes to my listings I find that Machinery's Handbook 5th edition lists the five Van Norman lathe sizes as Hopkins or Van Norman - so it is hard to be sure how the lathes were badged for sale. However, based on reference to them in the popular trade journals of the time, it appears that the smaller Hopkins lathes were sold into the WW lathe market until the early part of the last century.
Respectfully yours, Steve Franko.



E-MAIL   Tony@lathes.co.uk
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Hopkins (Van Norman)
Watchmaker's Lathe
Watchmaker Lathes