LOEWY, BENNO

Copyright © 2011-2017 John N. Lupia III

Benno Loewy (1854-1919),
was born in Berlin, Germany on 14 June, 1854, of Jewish parents, his father Adolph Loewy, a Rabbi. He moved to America with his family in 1866 and settled in New York City and lived at 296 Ninth Avenue. He attended Public School No. 19. He graduated City College (now C.U.N.Y.) B.A. 1873, and continued earning a Law degree from Columbia University, Law School, L.L.B., 1874. In 1875 he was admitted to the Bar. He was a highly respected attorney who specialized as a trial lawyer. He was active in arts and entertainment, an aficionado of the theatre and writer, active in the Freemasons and numismatics, and a bibliomaniac. According to his 1912 Passport Application description he was 5'-5" with brown and white hair.
            While a college student at City College he published, The Truth About Love : A Proposed Sexual Morality Based upon the Doctrine of Evolution, and Recent Discoveries in Medical Science. (New York, 1872)
            On 27 February 1883 he married American born of Austrian parents, Isabelle "Belle" Kohler (1859-1944), at the Hotel Brunswick, New York. As a young lawyer in the 1870's  he was a champion of equal rights for women and their right to vote, which became realized after his demise.
Fig. 1. Notice of Loewy's visit to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the Pittsburg Daily Post, Thursday, January 30, 1890, page 2

            On October 13, 1894, he was mugged by a vagrant on Broadway walking home from work. According to the news report in The New York Herald, Sunday, October 14, 1894, page 4, the tramp attempted to steal his gold pocket watch and a brawl ensued.
            He was a member of B'nai B'rith, the Free Sons of Israel and various Jewish charities. He became the President of the B'nai B'rith Lodge No. 19, also the Free Sons of Israel Aryeh Lodge No. 6. From 1893 he became a Freemason at National Lodge No. 209, and was an avid collector of Masonic literature, medals, tokens, pennies, badges and insignia. He also served as High Priest at the Crescent Chapter No. 220, and served on the Adelphic Council. In 1905 was made the Grand Master being a 33 degree Master of the Scottish Rites and represented the Lodge of Hamburg, Germany in New York.
            In October 1900 Loewy made national headlines in his legal review and opinion supporting President McKinley's policy on the treatment of the Filipinos and the Philippines.
            He served as the President of the German-American League, but was wrongfully deposed in January 1903 by forged proxy votes.
            Benno Loewy was an avid collector of Masonic numismatic material and frequently corresponded with the Chapman Brothers beginning in Spring of 1903. He became a member of the ANS in 1903, and also the ANA in October 1905. With William Poillon, and Dr. W. T. R. Marvin he was the editor on Masonic Medals and Tokens for the American Journal of Numismatics. He also donated Masonic Mark Pennies and Medals to the ANS collection in 1907.
                In 1905 Loewy published a Bibliography on Masonic Medals and Badges, and included Chapter or Mark Pennies.
Fig. 2. Correspondence of Benno Loewy with the Chapman Brothers, postmarked May 19, 1903, New York, New York. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive. 

            In October 1913 he exhibited over 100 rare postage stamps valued over $30,000 at the New York International Stamp Exhibition held from October 27-November 1, 1913 at the Engineering Societies Building, East 40th Street, New York City. Loewy and Col. E. H. R. Green were steady clients of American Philatelic Society Hall of Fame dealer, auctioneer, and specialist on postmarks, Percy Gray Doane (1877-1945) .
            On November 24, 1913 at the Anderson Galleries, New York he won at auction a rare book, Dr. John Doran, Annals of the English Stage, and a few others from the Douglas Taylor Collection of Theatrical Relics.

Fig. 3. Star Opera Company report in the Washington Times, Thursday, July 17, 1919, page 3. A month later he would be senselessly killed by an auto accident.

            He was killed on 19 August in New York City being hit by a truck near his home at 22 West 88th Street. Rabbi Joseph Silverman of Temple Emmanuel officiated at his funeral at Loewy's home. He is buried in Salem Fields Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.

Fig. 4. Loewy's Obituary in The New York Times, August 19, 1919

Fig. 5. In Memoriam page published in Proceedings of the Council of Deliberations of the State of New York (1920) : 86
              He bequeathed his Masonic and legal library collection of 53,000 volumes, a large collection of coins, badges, and photographs to Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.   The photograph collection comprises 14 cubic feet in 56 volumes, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library, Carl A Kroch Library. Although his wife contested the will under provisions of the law she agreed to the bequeathal five years after Benno's demise.

Fig. 6. The Loewy Collections in The Numismatist, October (1919) : 388
Fig. 7. Proceedings of the Council of Deliberations of the State of New York (1920) : 87. Note the birth information is faulty.
Fig. 8. American Philatelist and Year Book of the American  Philatelic Society (1920) : 374
                The stamp collection was sold through auction and realized $126,000. His art collection of paintings was also sold through auction by Anderson Galleries, New York, April 28-29, 1924.

Bibliography :
College of the City of New York, Catalogue, 1872, page 67
Los Angeles Times, October 21, 1900, page 29
The New York Times, Sunday, January 11, 1903, page 8

The Freemason and Masonic Illustrated. A Weekly Record of Progress in Freemasonry, Vol. XLVI (1906) : 4

Proceedings of the American Numismatic and Archeological Society (1907) : 13

The Numismatist, October (1909) : 300, 317
The New York Times, Sunday, October 12, 1913, page 63
The Philadelphia Inquirer, Tuesday, November 25, 1913, page 3

One Thousand American Men of Mark of To-day: Twentieth Century (Chicago, 1916) : 259-260

The New York Times, August 19, 1919, obituary
The New York Times, August 22, 1919, funeral service notice
The Numismatist, October (1919) : 402 (Obit)
American Philatelist and Year Book of the American  Philatelic Society (1920) : 374
Unger vs. Loewy, 236 N. Y., 73, 78.
American Art Annual Vol. 21 (1924) : 290
Fifty-nine paintings from the estate of the late Benno Loewy, New York City, and twenty-four paintings from other collections: several American paintings of exceptional historical interest. (Anderson Galleries, New York, April 28-29, 1924) 
The Numismatist, December (1941) : 10


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