The Many Faces of Ernest Dunton

Jeweller, Piano Tuner, Photographer and Watchmaker

As demonstrated by the maker of this clock, Ernest Dunton, and his employer, Morris Blasbalk, to be a watchmaker in the late nineteenth century required more than just the skill of making and fixing clocks.

Ernest John Dunton (b. 1878) was born in Wagga Wagga and completed a watchmaker apprenticeship with D. P. Symington in Sydney. After returning to the Albury region, Ernest worked for Morris (Moses) Blasbalk (1865–1935) in Blasbalk’s Albury shop from the mid-1890s.

Morris had moved to Albury from Taree in 1890 and along with being a watchmaker and jeweller was also an optician. When Blasbalk opened a store at 113 Albury Street Germanton in 1902, Ernest assumed its management along with travelling around the area to undertake watch and clock repairs while carrying a stock of watches and jewellery for sale. Although Ernest’s skills did not extend to optometry, he was a photographer, piano tuner and repairer, and acted as official timekeeper for the Ten Mile Creek Race Club.

In 1907, Ernest married Ethel Alice May Wilson (1884–1942), the daughter of previous residents of Germanton, and in 1909 he took over Blasbalk’s Germanton business in partnership with his father-in-law. Ernest and Ethel left Germanton in 1916 to live in Junee with their four daughters and in 1918 Ernest advertised in Narrandera as a piano tuner and repairer. Morris sold his Albury shop in 1914 and retired to Melbourne but the whereabouts of Ernest after 1921 are unknown, although it is known that Ethel lived in Murrumburrah until her death.

Although Ernest’s story after 1921 is a mystery, this clock remains as a permanent witness to his place as Germanton’s first watch and clockmaker.