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  Voigtlander & Sohn Company History

The Voigtlander & Sons Company was founded in 1756 by Johann Christoph Voigtlander. It was established as a fine mechanical and optical workshop, located in Vienna, Austria., selling spectacles, reading glasses, simple microscopes and telescopes. His three sons, Wilhelm, Siegmund and Johann Fredrick joined to assist in the business over time. Johann Christoph Voigtlander was born in 1735 and died in 1797.

Johann Fredrick, Johann Christoph's youngest son, carried on his business after his death beginning in 1797 . In 1811 Johann Fredrick after studying optics in England, constructed the first Galilean binocular telescope and patented it in 1815. He also introduced opera glasses and Wollaston's meniscus spectacles into Germany and Austria. He successfully introduced and sold a variety of optical lens, spectacle glasses and opera glasses during his tenure. Johann Fredrick Voigtlander was born 1n 1779, retired in 1837 and died in 1859.

Peter Wilhelm Fredrick continued the Voigtlander legacy as the third generation, beginning his leadership at the age of 25. He studied Frauenhofers methods of making homogeneous glass and designed a spectrometer to document all the available optical glass manufactured. He was then able to apply various optics to the needs of scientific instruments with great success. Most significantly, Peter Wilhelm Fredrick requested professor Petzval to calculate a doublet objective, in which the professor succeeded, and Voigtlander succeeded in the difficult manufacturing. In 1839 Johann Fredrick introduced the Petzval portrait lens to the public which enabled portraiture by reducing exposure time required to 1 to 2 minutes. To take advantage of the fast f3.7 Petzval double objective lens, he designed the Voigtlander all metal camera, which was the first to incorporate rack and pinion focusing. This lens design was such a great improvement that it influenced optics, forming a new class of scientific instruments. In 1849 the company was moved to Braunschweig and the Vienna factory was closed in 1866. Also in 1866 Peter Wilhelm Fredrick was ennobled by the King of Austria allowing him to ad the von to his last name. Voigtländer, was born in 1812 in Vienna, retired in 1876 and died in 1878.

Friedrich Ritter von Voigtlander carried the company into the 20th century after his fathers retirement by constructing the first Euryscope lens in 1877. The Euryscope gave a large flat field of view with much more light than previously obtainable. In 1883 the long focus portrait lens were replaced by Symmetrical portrait Euryscopes. In 1886 The glass technical laboratory of Professor Abe and Dr. Schott in Jena brought out several improvements and Voigltander was able to leverage these benefits for their Wide angle Euryscopes and single landscape lens. By 1888 Voigtlander had improved all symmetrical lens by substituting two crown glasses inplace of the two flint glasses. In 1898 Friedrich Ritter von Voigtlander became chairman of the board and assigned his five daughters as owners.

The Collinear lenses were introduced in 1893, the Heliar in 1900 and the Dynar in 1904.

In 1923 Voigtlander sold the stock majority to the Schering AG in Berlin.

In 1925 Schering Ltd. sold its interests to the Carl-Zeiss-Foundation

In 1965 Voigtlander becomes part of the Zeiss Ikon AG


1896 The Photogram p.111
1898 Short History of the Voigtlander Company Camera Catalog
1900 Voigtlander catalogue, p1-4
1929 Voigtlander Catalogue, p274
1989 A history of the photographic lens, R. Kingslake

CLICK HERE for a listing with detailed information on Voigtlander Cameras

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2012-12-07 20:55:11

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