Voigtländer (German pronunciation: [ˈfoːktlɛndɐ]) was a
significant long-established company within the optics and
photographic industry, headquartered in Braunschweig, Germany, and
today continues as a trademark for a range of photographic products.
1.1 Early beginnings
Photography optics and cameras
1.3 Contemporary times
4 Further reading
6 External links
Voigtländer roots was founded in Vienna,
Archduchy of Austria
Archduchy of Austria in
1756, by Johann Christoph Voigtländer (de). Voigtländer
produced mathematical instruments, precision mechanical products,
optical instruments, including optical measuring instruments and opera
glasses, and is the oldest name in cameras.
Voigtländer (November 19, 1732 in
Leipzig – June
27, 1797 in Vienna), the son of a carpenter, came to
Prague in 1755,
Vienna in the same year, and worked from 1757 to 1762 in the
workshop of Meinicke, who produced mathematical instruments.
Through Johann Voigtländer's skilful achievements, the Minister of
State of the Habsburg Monarchy—Prince Wenzel von Kaunitz, drew
Voigtländer and Empress
Maria Theresa of Austria granted
Voigtländer in 1763 a so-called trade "Protection Decree" (German
Schutzdekret/Schutzdecret): "on the making of mathematical instruments
and on an unspecified number of workers", upon which Voigtländer
founded his own workshop and whereby he could sell his products
Voigtländer invented two important tools: a linear device
for natural and tapered gauges, and a circular device for elevation,
astrolabe, and cartography etc. Including, a screw cutting machine, a
metal lathe and finishing rollers for sheep wool and silk factories.
The production program was supplemented by compasses, tweezers,
levelling devices, dioptres and other fine mechanical products.
In recognition of Voigtländer's achievements and dexterity,
Voigtländer received in 1797 a so-called "national commercial license
with all advantages and privileges" (German Landesfabriksbefugnis);
this license privileged
Voigtländer under certain circumstances the
prestige to display the imperial eagle of the Habsburg monarchy, but
above all the right to establish branch sales offices in all major
cities of the empire. In the same year,
Voigtländer died and his
successful family business was continued by his widow, their three
sons and one daughter.
Photo of Johann Christoph Voigtländer's grandson: Peter Wilhelm
Voigtländer (November 17, 1812 in
April 7, 1878 in Braunschweig). Portrait photo on daguerreotype by
Johann Baptist Isenring, ca. 1843
From 1840, Voigtländer's grandson Peter Wilhelm Friedrich
Voigtländer (de) established "Voigtländer" as a leading
photographic company of its time on introducing and producing the
Petzval objective lens.
Photography optics and cameras
Share of the
Voigtländer & Sohn AG, issued September 1925
Former headquarters and production site of Voigtländer, at
Campe-Straße in Braunschweig, Germany
From 1839, the year, when the invention of photography was being
published, came objective optics and from 1840 complete cameras for
Voigtländer objectives were revolutionary because
they were the first mathematically calculated precision objectives in
the history of photography, developed by the German-Hungarian
mathematics professor Josef Maximilian Petzval, with technical advice
provided by Peter Voigtländer.
Voigtländer went on to
produce the first Petzval portrait photographic lens (the fastest lens
at that time: f/3.6) in 1840, and the world's first all-metal
daguerreotype camera (Ganzmetallkamera) in 1840, also bringing out
photographic plate cameras shortly afterwards. An original of the 1840
all-metal daguerreotype camera with "No. 84
Voigtländer & Sohn in
Vienna" is exhibited in the "Deutsches Museum" in Munich.
In 1845, Peter
Voigtländer married the daughter of a respected
Braunschweig lawyer, whom he met on one of his photographic sales
journeys in Braunschweig.
Voigtländer had previously set up a
branch sales office in Braunschweig, Duchy of Brunswick, at that time
the central hub in the German rail network. Compared to Vienna,
Braunschweig offered a location advantage regarding the distribution
Voigtländer objectives and daguerreotype camera products due to
the greater proximity to the German overseas ports.
During the rising social and political tensions in the Austrian Empire
leading to the Revolutions of 1848, Peter
Voigtländer had joined the
political cause of the Democrats and also became adjutant to the
commander of the
Vienna national civil guard—General Wenzel
Messenhauser (de). As the revolutions escalated during the
Vienna Uprising of October 1848, the counter-revolution had
strengthened with full force, and General Messenhauser of the
revolting national civil guard, like many others—were executed.
Voigtländer at that time had in perception of the power relations
withdrawn from the
Vienna national civil guard and with his family
took refuge in a suburb of Vienna. On the wishes of Peter
Voigtländer's wife and when the March revolutions of 1848 hindered
the further development of the young photographic company, the family
promptly re-located from
Vienna to his wife's hometown Braunschweig,
where from 1849
Voigtländer established a subsidiary production site,
granted on a provisional "Concession for the pursuit of a trade",
issued by the city directorate with a term of five years. In
September 1852, Peter
Voigtländer was successfully awarded a
so-called "land-cooperative" (German Markgenossenschaft) and issued
the desired unrestricted "Concession for the pursuit of a trade" in
the city Braunschweig. In 1864, Peter
Voigtländer was honoured by
Franz Joseph I of Austria
Franz Joseph I of Austria with the
Knight's Cross of the Order
of Franz Joseph; becoming known as Peter Wilhelm Friedrich
Voigtländer. On the death of Voigtländer's
Vienna works manager,
Vienna business was closed in 1868.
changed status to a public
Voigtländer & Sohn
AG) in 1898, in 1923 a majority of the shares (99.7%) were acquired by
Schering AG's photo division and large-scale production then took
place in 1925.
Over the next three decades,
Voigtländer became a technology leader
and the first manufacturer to introduce several new kinds of product
that later became commonplace. These include the first zoom lens for
35mm still photography (36–82/2.8 Zoomar) in 1959 and the first
35mm compact camera with built-in electronic flash (Vitrona) in 1965.
Schering sold its share of the company to the
Carl Zeiss Foundation
Carl Zeiss Foundation in
1956, and Zeiss-Ikon and Voigtländer-Vertriebsgesellschaft integrated
in 1965. Due to falling sales, on 4 August 1971
Zeiss-Ikon/Voigtländer-Vertriebsgesellschaft ended producing cameras
and closed the
Voigtländer factory, which employed at the time 2,037
persons. Subsequently, the company moved to the collective enterprise
Voigtländer (Optical Works Voigtländer), in which
Carl Zeiss AG, the state of
Lower Saxony and the
Rollei each participated to one-third; Later
over all the shares. On the collapse of
Rollei in 1982, Plusfoto took
over the name, selling it in 1997 to Ringfoto.
Since 1999, Voigtländer-branded products have been manufactured and
marketed by the Japanese optics and camera company Cosina, under
license from RINGFOTO GmbH & Co. ALFO Marketing KG; for these, see
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June
See also: List of
Voigtländer Bessamatic/Ultramatic DKL-mount lenses
Below is a list of original
Voigtländer lens designs (in all
Skopar, Skoparex, Skoparet, Skopagon, Color-Skopar, Color-Skopar X
Dynarex, Dynaret, Color-Dynarex, Super-Dynarex, Super-Dynaret
Voigtländer Vitomatic IIa with Ultron 50mm 1:2
Voigtländer Bessa & Bessa RF
Voigtländer Vito II
Voigtländer Vitoret S
Voigtländer Vitoret DR
Voigtländer Vitessa T with German manual
Grabenhorst, Carsten (2002).
Voigtländer & Sohn: Die
Firmengeschichte von 1756 bis 1914 [
Voigtländer & Son: The
company history from 1756 to 1914] (in German). Braunschweig: Museum
für Photographie - Appelhans Verlag. ISBN 9783930292257.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Grabenhorst, Carsten (2002).
Voigtländer & Sohn: Die Firmengeschichte von 1756 bis 1914
Voigtländer & Son: The company history from 1756 to 1914] (in
German). Braunschweig: Museum für Photographie - Appelhans Verlag.
^ a b c Day, Lance; McNeil, Ian (1996). Biographical Dictionary of the
History of Technology. London: Routledge. pp. 958–959.
^ a b c d e Deutschen Biographischen Enzyklopädie [German
Biographical Encyclopaedia] (in German). 10. Munich: K.G. Saur Verlag.
2008. p. 292. ISBN 9783598250408.
^ Deschin, Jacob (15 March 1959). "Zoom Lens For Stills". The New York
Times. Retrieved September 12, 2017. [dead link]
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