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Overview descriptions of the different Zeiss Companies

Carl Zeiss Jena

The firm of Carl Zeiss was founded in Jena in 1846 and grew to be the most dominant optical and fine mechanical firm in the world at the beginning of the twentieth century through 1945. It was then effectively separated into two firms because of the partitioning of Germany after World War II. The resulting firms became Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen (West Germany) and VEB Carl Zeiss Jena (East Germany).

Collectibles: Microscopes, Scientific Instruments, Cameras, Photographic Lenses, Astronomical Instruments, Optical and Medical Devices

Carl Zeiss (Oberkochen)

In 1945, the upper echelon of the Carl Zeiss Jena scientists and their most senior management were taken from Jena by the US Army to the small town of Heidenheim in what would be West Germany. After a year of having no manufacturing resources and their managers sent to England for denazification, the company began to reform itself in the non-Russian zones of occupation from scratch. They applied their knowledge to totally new products since they had no established product line. These resultant products were years ahead of the industry. They reestablished the old products of microscopes, binoculars, planetariums among others and became profitable by 1954.

Collectibles: Microscopes, Scientific Instruments, Cameras, Photographic Lenses, Astronomical Instruments, Optical and Medical Devices

VEB Carl Zeiss Jena

The remnants of the prewar firm were decimated by the loss of senior staff and management to West Germany. The total assets of the firm were dismantled and sent to the USSR and restarted itself in Jena based on the products designed before the war. They had to supply Russia with senior technical staff to start the new Russian industries based on their former lines of business.. While most of these advisors were gone for 4-5 years or more, the firm was restarted from scratch as well in 1947/8. VEB stands for "Peoples Owned Enterprise." After the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the firm lost their customer base as was dissolved or portions sold off to successful Western firms.

Collectibles: Microscopes, Scientific Instruments, Cameras, Photographic Lenses, Astronomical Instruments, Optical and Medical Devices

Schott & Genossen(Schott and Associates)

Otto Schott brought his unique glass experiments to Jena and formed a partnership with Carl Zeiss and Ernst Abbe which resulted in totally new forms of optical and other glass. The optical glass enabled Zeiss to manufacture new microscope objectives and other new breakthrough products as well and helped to assure their leading scientific prowess for many years to come. The firm became the leading glass and optical glass firm in the world. Schott, too, was separated into East and West factions and both prospered until the unification of Germany when the Eastern firm was merged into the Western firm.

Collectibles: Bauhaus and other art glass, Glass Catalogs


Zeiss Ikon AG

In 1926, many of the leading photographic firms in Germany were in desperate financial condition. Carl Zeiss Jena joined the major firms of Ica, Contessa Nettel, Ernemann and Goerz into the firm of Zeiss Ikon. It quickly combined and restructured the product lines of those firms and developed some of the most revolutionary photographic products to become the most successful subsidiary of Carl Zeiss by the mid 1930s. Like Carl Zeiss, it was split into separate firms in 1945. Both firms were able to recreate themselves with excellent products but for political and market reasons were out of the business. Zeiss Ikon West was dissolved in 1970 due to manufacturing costs in Germany and Zeiss Ikon East underwent numerous name changes and mergers until its identity was lost.

Collectibles: Cameras, Photographic Equipment, Sophisticated Lock and Key Security Systems, Adding Machines, Some Medical and Military Devices


Hensoldt AG

The family firm of Moritz Hensoldt was gradually purchased by Carl Zeiss from the late 1920s until it completed owned the firm in 1964. It produced impressive telescopes, binoculars and microscopes until 1964 when Zeiss relocated its binocular products into Hensoldt under the Zeiss trademark. Hensoldt's trademark became used exclusively for military products. The firm was located in Wetzlar.

Collectibles: Microscopes, Scientific Instruments, Photographic Lenses, Astronomical Instruments, Optical and Medical Devices


Winkel (Rudolph Winkel or Winkel Zeiss or Zeiss Winkel)

Rudolph Winkel was a contemporary of Carl Zeiss in the field of microscopes but gradually the family participation in the business declined and it was sold to Carl Zeiss who kept it as a totally separate business until 1954 when it became the microscope division of Carl Zeiss (Oberkochen). The firm was located in Göttingen.

Collectibles: Microscopes, Scientific Instruments,

Many other firms were associated with the Zeiss firm and either produced Zeiss products under license or as partners. Among these were Bausch & Lomb in the USA, Ross in England, Krauss in France and Koristka in Italy. Small manufacturing offices were also opened at Gyor in Hungary, St. Petersburg in Russia, Vienna in Austria and in London, England. Definitive articles on this have appeared in our Journal.

Our site is comprised of the following pages. Click on the name of each area to go to that page:

1. An overview of historical Zeiss Companies and a list of their collectibles
2. Our Zeiss Historica Publications
3. A sample article - The Contax camera's migration to Kiev, Ukraine
4. A second sample article - An unusual Contax I
5. An index to all of our published articles
6. Links to other interesting web sites related to Zeiss and photography
7. Membership Information

8. Famous Zeiss Designers and Personalities


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