Joachim Matthias Wendt, watchmaker & jeweller south Australia

Joachim Matthias Wendt

watchmaker and jeweller

Joachim Matthias Wendt was born on 26 June 1830 at Dageling, Denmark. His parents were Joachim Matthias Wendt and Christina, nee Schlichting. After completing his apprenticeship with the village watchmaker he decided to migrate and arrived at Port Adelaide in 1854. Within a short time he had established himself as a watchmaker in Pirie Street and within twelve months became a naturalised British subject. He soon became a well known watchmaker, gold and silver smith and jeweller. In 1864 and 1865 he gained first prizes at the Dunedin Exhibition in Scotland.

Wendt was also awarded a prize medal for his work from New Zealand in 1865 and a year later from Victoria. In 1867 he was appointed Jeweller to HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and gained two gold medals for his work from South Australia. By this time he employed 12 silversmiths as well as watch makers, jewellers and shop assistants.

New South Wales awarded him a medal in 1870. By now he had a well established business in Rundle Street and in 1871 opened a branch in Mount Gambier. A year later he married Johanna Koeppen. In 1878 he won two more first prizes for silverware at the Paris exhibition. Apart from his interest in gold and silver smithing and watch making he was also involved as a member of a syndicate that erected the Adelaide Arcade, Freemason Hall in Flinders Street and later with August Helling invested in a land development of 60,000 acres in the Mallee scrub.

Wendt was also very involved in the mining industry and was director of several South Australian companies, including the Lyndoch Valley Mining Company, of which W.S. Whitington was secretary. Among some of its shareholders were Dr William Gosse, who had assisted Tolmer at Mount Alexander 15 years before and George Henry Catchlove of North Adelaide. In 1868 he was on the Board of Directors of the West Kanmantoo mine. While a shareholder in the Nil Desperandun he pressed for an extraordinary meeting on 9 December 1869. The purpose of this meeting was to remove all its directors because ‘of their many mistakes and blunders’.

In 1870 Joachim Matthias Wendt was involved with the Eclipse Gold Mine, discovered in 1870 by Captain Terrell. When gold was discovered in the Northern Territory he became heavily involved in the Douglas gold mine. Later he became a shareholder and director of the Alma gold mine in South Australia

During the silver boom of the 1880s Wendt opened a store at Broken Hill and crafted a model of the Block 10 mine. At the turn of the century he was joined by his son and stepson who took on most of the work making it possible for JM, who was now 70, to retire. Joachim Matthias Wendt died on 7 September 1917 and was buried at North Road Cemetery.

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