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Bausch and Lomb Company

"Bausch & Lomb Optical Company was founded by John Jacob Bausch, an immigrant, born in Gross Suessen, Germany in 1830. He learned to grind lenses and make spectacle frames out of horn in Germany. When hard times hit Europe, Bausch moved to America in 1849 and settled in Rochester, New York. There he found a job in a wood turning establishment for $1 a day. In 1853, he married Barbara Zimmerman and, seven weeks into the marriage had an accident in the wood shop and lost two fingers of one hand. Seeing his limitation in the woodworking business, Bausch turned to his brother in Germany and asked for a shipment of optical goods, which he promised to pay back within six months. He sold the imported spectacles from his home and paid off the first loan and proceded to sell imported spectacles. Bausch's spectacle enterprise was doing so well, that he was able to rent a space in the Reynold's Arcade in Rochester and set up an optical shop. Needing eyeglasses to sell in his shop, Bausch soliticed his close friend Henry Lomb for a loan. He promised Lomb that if the business ever grew to where it could support a partner, Lomb would come into the company. It was a gentleman's agreement that Bausch would later make good. they would take turns runing the store and traveling to market and sell thier eyeglasses. Cash was tight and loans were paid as they came due.

The Civil War was the turning point in the fortunes of Bausch and Lomb and by the end of the war the company was profitable. Several developments contributed to its success. First Henry Lomb went in the Army and, as a bachelor, was able to send most of his Army pay back to the business. The young company was also helped by the rapid appreciation of the gold dollar. More importantly, Bausch began experimenting with making eyeglass frames of rubber. Not only did this become successful, but he ws also able to sale rubber watchcases for local manufacturer.

After the war they moved the comapny nearby the Genesee river. That meant no more foot pedaling to grind lens because the river flow would power the grinding machines. Bausch built what turned out to be the first power machinery in America for grinding lenses. "

"There were plenty of problems along the way and financial hard times, however in 1860 they received a letter from the American Hard Rubber & Comb Company offering exclusive rights to manufacture hard rubber eyeglass frames for the remaining six years of the company's rubber patent. During that period, Bausch and Lomb made enough money to buy
the parent rubber company. They now operated under the name Vulcanite Optical
Instrument Company, however They officially changed the company name to ""Bausch & Lomb Optical Company"".

Bausch's son's made significant contributions to the success of the company. The eldest son, Edward, had built his first microscope at age 14. At age 22, Edward was put in charge of the company's booth at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition where Bausch & Lomb microscopes won significant awards. It had been the founders' dream to make Bausch & Lomb the first company in America to manufacture precision optical instruments. They produced their first B&L microscope in 1874 and it rivaled those produced in Europe. Up until World War I, all optical glass in was imported from Europe. In May 1915, Bausch's son William produced the first successful optical glass ever to be made in the United States . Both Bausch sons spent their entire career with their father's company.

Henry Lomb died in 1908 but John J. Bausch remained active head of the company he
founded for seventy-five years, longer than most people live. Bausch continued working
until only a few months before his death in 1926 at age 96. His son Edward succeeded
him as company president.

The company went on to become the second largest optical manufacturer in the World,
trailing behind American Optical and the rest is modern history."


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2005-02-20 00:00:00
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