Lowe & Campbell Athletic Goods was a manufacturer and retailer – making and selling, you guessed it, items like this basketball and American football referee’s stopwatch – based in Kansas City, Missouri in the early 20th century.
Established in 1912 by George Lowe and D. Keedy Campbell, it operated retail stores under the same name until it was acquired by Wilson Sporting Goods in 1931. Mergers such as these were common, as large sporting goods companies like Wilson, Rawlings, and Spalding merged with smaller, local, or regional companies to increase their presence in markets throughout the U.S. Following their merger with Wilson, Lowe and Campbell retail stores became a division of Wilson Sporting Goods thereafter.
In the 1920s, the company sponsored a series of basketball teams that were a powerhouse in the Amateur Athletic Union when the AAU National Championships involved colleges, private athletic clubs and factory-sponsored teams. Of interesting note, a player on the 1922 team was Frederick J. Bowman, who served with future U.S. President Harry Truman during World War I. During lunch, Bowman would frequently visit Truman at his haberdashery a few blocks away – Bowman would go on to serve as president of Wilson Sporting Goods in 1951.
Onto the stopwatch. The mechanics are straightforward. It has a crown used to wind the watch and set the minute hand, and a sliding lever at the 10 o'clock position, which stops and starts the watch.
The basketball timer is broken up into two 20-minute halves, akin to present day NCAA basketball. Of unique note, there exists no other timing for basketball, as there was no shot clock in the early 19th century.
Related, the football timer is broken up into four 15-minute quarters with a red “warning” bar for the two-minute warning. Oddly, this feature starts at five minutes, likely due to football rules during the era.
1920's Lowe & Campbell Basketball and American Football Referee’s Stopwatch
DIAL: Original dial, with some great patina; original hands. “Lowe & Campbell Made in the U.S.A.” signed dial at the six o’clock position.
CASE: Original 50.5mm steel case, with the crown in the usual stopwatch position.
CRYSTAL: Domed plexi crystal is scratch-free.
MOVEMENT: Simple stopwatch movement, with added timing complications for basketball and football timing.
CROWN: Original unsigned crown.