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Joseph Lowy, Watchmaker (1889-1979)

Melbourne watchmaker Joseph Lowy began to loan and donate items to the museum from the late 1940s. For more than thirty years Lowy developed a close working relationship with the museum staff.

Lowy was born in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia and had trained in watch making in Karlstein, Austria, before migrating to Melbourne at the age of 20.

Writing in his neat hand on his distinctive letterhead (J. Lowy, 'Distributor of Punctuality'), Lowy guided the development of the collection. He wrote to European makers requesting loans or donations of the watches and clocks that demonstrated the latest technological developments. He arranged for his old technical school in Austria to make large models of watch escapements for the museum's displays.

Lowy also purchased items at auction and then sold them on to the museum at cost. Some came from the most unlikely sources. Lowy purchased at auction a silver pocket watch from the estate of a man who carried all his belongings around the streets in a sack. The watch turned out be have been made by the famed 18th century British watchmaker George Graham.

In recognition of his role in developing the collection, the museum appointed Lowy the Honorary Curator of the Horological Collection in 1953, a position he retained until his death in 1979.

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