Advanced Search

Alcott, Louisa May.

My Rococo Watch."


A Little-Known Short Story
(Alcott, Louisa May) "My Rococo Watch" in The National Elgin Watch Company's Illustrated Almanac. Chicago: Culver, Page, Hoyne & Co., 1875.
8vo.; illustrated wrappers, string-tied; four pages of ads in the front and rear; with black-and-white cartoons and full-page illustrations throughout. In a specially made cloth slipcase.
First edition of an unusual periodical published by The Elgin National Watch Company. This volume contains a four-page story by Alcott entitled "My Rococo Watch," for which she was paid $100. Alcott, who is identified in the publication as "the authoress of 'Little Men' and 'Little Women,'" makes reference to the piece in a journal entry from the spring of 1874: "The Elgin Watch Company offered me a gold watch or $100 for a tale. Chose the money, and wrote 'My Rococo Watch' for them" (Louisa May Alcott Journal, p. 192).
In the story, a young woman named Penelope purchases an antique watch that breaks soon after she buys it. She saves up to buy a new one, but then decides to give the money away as a loan to a male friend in need. Her generosity is of course rewarded when the young man, his wealth restored, proposes to her at the end of the story. "My Rococo Watch" is included in Silver Pitchers (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1876), a catchpenny collection of short stories by Alcott.
The Elgin Watch Company, founded in 1864, began issuing annual almanacs in 1871 as part of a larger marketing campaign. The almanacs contained numerous pages of ads, as well as cartoons, poems, and articles on watch care and maintenance. The lower wrapper of this issue contains an ad for St. Nicholas, Scribner's serial magazine for children, and mentions that the next volume will feature a story by Alcott called "Eight Cousins" which is intended for "middle-aged boys and girls."

© 2011-2018 Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, Inc. All Rights Reserved.