[rollei_list] OT: Zeiss Agencies

  • From: Marc James Small <marcsmall@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: rollei_list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2009 18:16:33 -0400

At 05:43 PM 6/15/2009, Richard Knoppow wrote:

>    I am not familiar with Huet although the name is
>familiar, however, Krauss was a well known French optician
>and held the license to make Zeiss camera lenses (and maybe
>binoculars) in France in the same way that Bausch & Lomb did
>in the USA. One occasionally seens Krauss-Zeiss Tessars.

In the 1880's, Carl Zeiss Jena was rapidly expanding but still was not the mega-corporation it is today. Thus, they opened branch offices when they could do so cheaply -- Vienna, London, St Petersburg, and Bucharest come to mind. Then, for the harder markets, they sought local agents. Krauss in Paris got the French agency and B&L got a "split" arrangement -- Carl Zeiss USA had its main office in New York City, but all domestic production was done by Bausch & Lomb. So, there are all sorts of pre-WWI "Zeiss" products actually made in, say, Romania or the US.

All of the agencies located in nations at war with the German Empire in the Erstes Weltkrieg seized these agencies under their versions of the Alien Properties Act. Thus, Krauss obtained full rights to all Zeiss intellectual properties and did not have to pay any royalties after 1 AUG 1914, and Bausch & Lomb got a similar deal in the US in APR 1917 when Wilson got Congress to break bad and declare war on Germany and Austria-Hungary. Zeiss came out of the First World War in better shape than most German industries -- Zeiss and IG Farbinindustrie and Krupp and a few shipyards were towering rocks of fiscal stability in a German economy gone west. Zeiss repurchased their agencies in the UK and US and continued the arrangement, somewhat modified, with B&L -- for instance, CZJ refused to share some of its cutting-edge work with B&L after 1921, though it did encourage that firm to manufacture Micro-Tessars.

One amusing side-note to this was the resolution of lawsuits filed by Mauser against the British and American mlitaries for theft of intellectual properties. The British case was complex, as it involved artillery shells based on Mauser patents which the British had designed but not produced when the two nations went to war, and the British courts ruled in favor of Mauser. The US case was simpler, as the US had "borrowed" the action from the 1898K rifle for the estimable, and a bit superior, M1903 Springfield, so the US government simply rolled over and settled out of Court.

The exact same situation occurred again during and after World War II. There are Carl Zeiss binoculars produced in Vienna in the 1950's which bear a distinct logo and which bear, I recall, a "W" (for Wien) in their serial numbers. Today, of course, the less expensive Carl Zeiss binoculars are made in Romania or Czechia.

I do not know what became of Krauss after World War I. Huet survived to be bought out by another works around 1929, that firm eventually being nationalized by the Blum excuse for a responsible government.

Again, the Binocular Historical Society is the discussion list where most scholars of the breed can be found. It is free and their are a number of famous names from the camera world there, such as Charlie Barringer.


Cha robh bàs fir gun ghràs fir!

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