Key Dates in the Jos. H. Lowenstein & Sons, Inc. History of Color Innovation

5000 BC

THE FIRST KNOWN TEXTILES with dyed pigments are discovered as early as the Neolithic period. During this time, dyes are made from local and abundantly found natural material. They do not have the vibrant colors or lasting properties we have in today's world. Who knows what life would have been like had Joseph H. Lowenstein been born 5000 years ago.

1570 BC

THE PHOENICIANS make a giant leap in dyes when they start using Tyrian purple. The dye is highly sought after not only because of its bright color, but because it does not fade easily. The brilliant color becomes brighter with weathering and sunlight. By 600 BC, the Phoenicians begin trading their dyes as far away as the British Isles.

1870 AD

Fast Forward to Industrialized Europe.

UNIFIED GERMANY, under Bismarck, looks to manufacturing dyes as one means to industrial prowess and a self-sufficient economy. With little oil in Germany and an abundance of lignite, the chancellor turns to coal production, which produces coal tar as a byproduct. It’s discovered that the anilines in coal tar produce colorfast dyes. As a result, Germany becomes the world leader in quality dyes. That is until an enterprising young man from Brooklyn throws his hat into the color dye ring a few years later.


Enter Joseph H. Lowenstein

WITH ONLY A FEW YEARS of work experience at S.B Kraus, a local paint sore, and five hundred dollars in his pocket, Joseph opens his own paint store at 33 Throop Ave, Brooklyn, New York.


A Tradition Begins.

AT A TIME when the norm was to abuse the American workforce, Joseph H. Lowenstein stands out as a man of strong moral character, a true visionary and an inspirational business leader. "If you treat people with dignity and respect, they will return the favor with loyal service and hard work," he says. With great care for his employees, he organizes a trade association amongst all the Brooklyn paint stores promoting a uniform work schedule with more equitable hours. Employee loyalty and devotion is a family tradition that continues to this day.


WITH WAR LOOMING IN EUROPE, the German Dye Trust, in an effort to maintain their dominance in the dye market, sends a large stockpile of their basic fur dye, Paraphenylenediamine, to America. The supply soon runs out due to the British blockade. Prices for the German dye quickly rise from $0.40 to $15 to $20 per pound of dye.


THE NEED FOR GERMAN DYE necessitates the first Trans Atlantic U-Boat voyage. The Deutschland arrives in Baltimore carrying the much sought after dyes for the American market.


The JHL Legacy Begins.

WWI CONTINUES, the blockade tightens, and the abundance of German dye dwindles. The American fur dyers commission Joseph Lowenstein to supply quantities of dye intermediates in the United States. The visionary Joseph sees a greater future and decides to shift his business from selling chemicals, paints, varnishes, brushes, linseed oil, and ground pigments to fur dyes. From then on, the company exclusively sells fur dyes and chemicals.


A Star Grows in Brooklyn.

BY THE 1920s Jos H. Lowenstein is firmly established.


Location. Location. Location.

AFTER RAPID GROWTH Joseph moves his business to 19 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn, New York where he has access to a large warehouse and office facilities.


A Synergistic Alliance is Formed.

LEO ALTENBERG, a brilliant chemist who makes unprecedented advances in the science of fur dyes, teams with Joseph and his sons. Their collaboration catapults the business and they become an indomitable force, breaking the hold on German intermediaries and aniline combinations.


A Life-long Dream is Realized.

JOS H. LOWENSTEIN becomes Jos. H. Lowenstein & Sons, with the hiring of Joseph's eldest son Herman and his younger brother Salomon.


The Light Dims.

ONLY 58 YEARS OLD, Joseph H. Lowenstein succumbs to leukemia. But his heritage, firmly founded in integrity, vision and fair play continues to live on from generation to generation - a legacy the Lowenstein family carries on with great pride.


Onward and Upward.

JHL MOVES to its present location at Morgan Ave. & Withers St., Brooklyn, for even larger, more modern facilities to keep up with the post-war surge for dyes. JHL turn to scientific expertise in their laboratories to create products that will be better than the German dyes and distinguish themselves from their competition.


Viva la France.

JOSEPH H. LOWENSTEIN & SONS, INC. becomes the sole United States agents for the fur dyes of Ste Ame. Matieres Colorantes & Produits Chimiques de St. Denis - a well known French color dye company of the time.


Dawn of a New Era.

WITH A WORLD WAR once again on the horizon, the Jos. H. Lowenstein & Sons brain trust, anticipating the depletion of the foreign dye trade, prepares accordingly and has their chemists working round-the-clock to insure against such a contingency. Lowenstein chemists begin developing their own countertypes of the old foreign dyes. They create the Rodol fur dye as its standard and control all aspects of its production allowing the company to scientifically create a precise and flawless dye every time.


SHORTLY AFTER WWII, the Lowenstein chemists use their fur expertise to develop hair dyes.


THE 1950s BRINGS technological change, scientific advancements, and medical breakthroughs to the world, and to Jos.H. Lowenstein and Sons, on brilliant innovator in Steve Lowenstein, grandson to the firm's founder, and today's Chairman. Steve begins his career working summers while still in high school. From the very beginning, Steve follows in his grandfather's footsteps by helping to introduce a new area of research for the company. Fascinated by the scientific similarity between fur and human hair, Steve recognizes the opportunity with hair dyes.


No One-Hit Wonder.

STEVE BEGINS HIS FULL-TIME CAREER with the company. Along side a skilled chemist, Harold H. Tucker, PhD, they continue their research into the new medium of Hair Dyes. Because of the purity of the JHL fur dyes, they are able to make the shift to human hair and quickly achieve successful formulations for commercial production. Steve is not a one-hit wonder. After his early success, he doesn't stop thinking, and looking for the next opportunity. He sees where the world is going, and begins to expand the JHL market worldwide and sets the stage for JHL becoming the multi national trade organization it is today.


It's Not Easy to Fool Mother Nature.

WITH THE SPACE RACE and technological innovations happening around the world, it is not surprising that Jos. H. Lowenstein & Sons makes a breakthrough of their own. The company's Reinforcing dyes gives the JHL dyes superior color fastness that proves to last longer that natural undyed fur. It took Jos Lowenstein 70 years, but through hard work and scientific expertise, accomplishes what every scientist dreams of - creating something superior that nature intended.


IF PRESIDENT NIXON was the first American to travel to China opening the gates of communication, Steve Lowenstein was the second. He continues his vision of JHL as a multinational company and establishes a strong foreign-trade presence in Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and South America.


Another Lowenstein Another Visionary.

FOLLOWING THE LOWENSTEIN TRADITION, David Lowenstein, the eldest of Steve's two sons, begins his career in 1995. After completing post-graduate studies in leather technology, in North Hampton, England, where he developed a rich knowledge and understanding of leathers and furs, David brings his own skill set to the JHL leather research labs. Quality and innovation take on a whole new dimension across all the JHL research labs in combining the science of color dye formulation and the latest trends in fashion under his tutelage.

2012 & beyond

Hail To The Chief.

DAVID IS CROWNED the new President of Jos. H. Lowenstein & Sons, as Steve takes on Chairman responsibilities. Another Lowenstein visionary, David declares that the commitment made by his great grandfather over 100 years ago will still remain the guiding principal behind the company- unequalled product innovation and fashion firsts, personalized service beyond reproach, and value far exceeding market standards. As it should be.

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