Beck was born in Stamford Hill in north London. Following an apprenticeship, in 1851 he joined the partnership of Smith & Beck, with his brother Richard Beck (1827-1866) and James Smith (died 1870). The company was renamed Smith, Beck & Beck in 1854 and became R & J Beck when Smith retired in 1865.
The company manufactured various optical instruments including microscopes, telescopes, optometer lenses, camera lenses and cameras. Based in the City of London, by 1861 the business employed 40 men and 35 boys and girls.
An active member of the Conservative Party and of the Primrose League, in 1873 Beck was elected to the City of London Corporation as a common councilman for Cornhill Ward. He remained a member of the corporation until his death, at which time he was the Chief Commoner of the City. In 1885 he was a made a Deputy Lieutenant for the City.
When the first London County Council elections were held in January 1889, Beck was nominated to contest the Hackney North Division. Although he described himself as "non-political", Beck was supported by the local Conservative Association of which he was a prominent member. He was elected, and took his seat as a member of the Moderate Party, who formed the opposition group on the council.
Beck was a tireless campaigner for the opening of Clissold Park as a public open space. When the park was officially opened in July 1889 he officiated along with Lord Rosebery, Chairman of the London County Council.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Obituary". The Graphic. 25 April 1891.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Deaths". The Times: p. 1. 20 April 1891.
- ↑ R and J Beck Limited, Science Museum 
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Joseph Beck, Grace's Guide
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 R & J Beck Company History, Historic Camera
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Beck, Camera Wiki
- ↑ "The City Wardmotes". Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper. 28 December 1873.
- ↑ "The Lieutenancy of the City". The Standard: p. 2. 14 November 1885.
- ↑ "County Council Elections". Reynold's Newspaper. 20 January 1889.
- ↑ "Opening of Clissold Park". Morning Post: p. 2. 25 July 1889.