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Encyclopedia > Aaron Lufkin Dennison

Aaron Lufkin Dennison (March 6, 1812- January 9, 1895) was an American watchmaker born in Freeport, Maine.

His Life

Upon a three year apprenticeship with James Cary, he went to work as a journeyman watchmaker in Boston in 1833. There he followed the advice of Tubal Hone, a fellow American watchmaker, and discovered inaccuracies in the workmanship and construction, of even the best of hand_made watches. He often visited the Springfield armory, predicting that the manufacture of watches would soon be reduced to as much system and perfection as the manufacture firearms. Around 1840 he invented the Dennison Standard Gauge and then began to develop the "Interchangeable System" (the American System of Watch Manufacturing).

Meanwhile, in 1844, Dennison, who was then also engaged in the jewelry business in Boston, decided that he could make paper boxes better than the imported products. He bought supplies of box board and cover paper and took them the family home in Brunswick, Maine, where his father, Col. Andrew Dennison, cut out the first boxes, and his sisters covered them. He developed the box business successfully, but five years later turned it over to his younger brother Eliphalet Whorf Dennison (The Dennison Manufacturing Company, in Framingham, Massachusetts, became the Avery Dennison Corporation with headquarters in Pasadena, California, upon a merger in 1990), to pursue watch manufacturing.

In 1849, Dennison partnered with the clockmaker Edward Howard to manufacture interchangeable movement parts, to enhance quality and lower the price of watches. With capital from mirror manufacturer Samuel Curtis, they started in 1850. In 1854 a new factory was built on the banks of the Charles River, in Waltham, Massachusetts, The company eventually became the Waltham Watch Company, the first company to manufacture interchangeable movement parts, as well as assemble and sell at affordable prices reliable watches, Railroad chronometers, 8_Day Clocks and other timers in the U.S.A.

Dennison moved to Europe in the final years of his life and pursued his career in Switzerland and England, where he died in 1895, in Birmingham.


  • Reprint of The American Jeweler, February 1888, by Greg R. Frauenhoff, January 2003
  • "Seventy-Five Years" Company edited booklet, Dennison Manufacturing Co, Framingham, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

External Links

  • NAWCC: National Association of Watch & Clocks Collectors (http://www.nawcc.org/),
  • NAWCC Internet Chapter 185 (http://nawcc_ihc.org/)
  • Waltham Serial Numbers (http://www.waltham.ch/cgi/waltham/search.asp)

  Results from FactBites:
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Aaron Dennison and Edward Howard were not first to employ machines in making watches, but were first to assemble a large-scale system and to start a major watch venture.
The talk will cover the contribution of Aaron Lufkin Dennison (the founder of the Waltham Watch Company), Nelson Pitkin Stratton (Waltham UK Manager) and Ambrose Webster of the American Watch Tool Company.
Its primary promoter, Aaron Dennison, envisioned the venture as the economic basis of a Swedenborgian community.
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