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November 2011: Time Traveling the Neutrino Way

Extra Fine Points Index  ]

BY DON FLUCKINGER • All this talk about neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light and rewriting the laws of physics is kind of laughable, until physicists get their stories straight on why the earth was showered with neutrinos from a 1987 supernova that arrived at the same time — statistically speaking, at least — as the light did.

While they sort things out, it's given rise to some decent jokes. My favorite:

The bartender says, “We don’t serve time-traveling neutrinos here.” A neutrino walks into a bar. Extra Fine Points

I’m no physicist, myself, but if would seem to me that if time travel were to be perfected in my lifetime, then Future Don would have messaged Present Don at least a couple times, e.g., at least a few seconds before hitting the “bid” button on a few eBay pens that ended up arriving broken or otherwise much less appealing than the auction listing made them look. Just saying: Looks as if Einstein really wasn’t a chump after all, despite his theories getting diced and allegedly disproven in the last six weeks or so.

But if time travel did come about, I’d definitely try it. With my pocket watch and fountain pen fetishes, if I were given five shots, I’d take these:

Railroad watch

This is a 17 jewel 16 size Ham­ilt­on Mod­el No 992 rail­road watch.

  • Waltham, Mass., 1900. Today, I work about two miles from the center of Waltham, which used to be known as “Watch City, USA.” I’d waltz into some shop selling the company’s railroad watches and, by hook or by crook, score a new-in-box 16 size, 23 jewel model No 1899, also known as “Riverside Maximus.” Which, technically, didn’t qualify for all railroad workers — just some — because it was a pendant-setting watch as opposed to a lever-set, but still one of the finest American timepieces ever made. If the shop carried Hamilton/Ball railroad watches, I’d also go for a 17 jewel, 18 size Model No 999. Oh, and if time permitted, take a tour of the Waltham factory.

  • Janesville, Wis., 1938-39. There’s so many moments in the Parker Pen Co.’s history (or opportunities to clean up at the outlet store, if they had one) that it would be tough to pick just one. Forced to choose, I’d love to be a fly on the wall while senior leadership debated the fine points of the close-to-done “51” prototypes.

    Fountain pen

    This is a first-year “51” with a “Wedding Band” cap.

Parker advertisement, 1926

This 1926 Parker ad­ver­tise­ment ballyhoos the famous Duofold drop off the top of Chicago’s then-incomplete Stevens Hotel. (Click the im­age for a zoomed view.)

cover Further Reading: History of the American Waltham Watch Company of Waltham, Mass, by Henry G. Abbott
Back in the day, many American watch companies in the Northeast and Midwest produced some of the world’s finest timepieces. Few were bigger than American Waltham, whose history is documented in this 2010 reproduction of a 102-page book first published in 1923.

Don Fluckinger lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, and is the son-in-law of Richard Binder. His articles have been published in Antiques Roadshow Insider, The Boston Globe, and on the collectibles Web site. Please note: Any opinions stated in this column are Don’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Richard Binder or this Web site. Don Fluckinger
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