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Gundlach Optical Company History

in 1876 Ernst Gundlach emigrated from Germany to the U.S. were he founded the microscope department of the Bausch & Lomb company. With Gundlaches assistance, Bausch & Lomb won a gold medal for its Professional-Stand Microscope at a fair in Philadelphia.

In 1878, due to work related differences, Gundlach was forced to leave Baush and Lomb.

In 1879 Gundlach was joined by a Lewis R. Sexton, and together they set up and operated an optical goods establishment in their home, 171 St. Paul Street, Rochester NY., while Sexton doubled as a teacher and later becoming principal of two Schools while maintaining his support of the optical firm.

in 1880,Gundlach moved to Hartford, Conn., leaving Sexton in charge of the business. While in Hartford he listed himself as Optician.

In 1881, Sexton moved the optical establishment to 29 Stone Street, where he was joined by two other opticians, J. C. Reich and J. Zellweger.

In 1883 the Rochester directory listed Sextons Rochester operation as "Dealer in Ernst Gundlach's Microscopes and Objectives."

In August 1884 Lewis R. Sexton died and Gundlach immediately returned to Rochester. He reorganized the business at 29 Stone Street as the "Gundlach Optical Company", with himself, John C. Reich, John Zellweger, and Henry H. Turner, a machinist and now president, as officers. They claimed in their advertising to be "Sole Manufacturers of E. Gundlach's Microscopes and Objectives." During the next eight years the company occupied several different locations.

In 1892 after several moves Gundlach finally ending up at 761 South Clinton Avenue where the company stayed well into the 1930's.

In 1889 Gundlach was joined by his son Karl, who lived with him for many years.

In approximately 1890 the firm focused on lens for cameras.

Early in 1895, for some reason, Ernst Gundlach left the firm and established a rival company called the "Gundlach Photo-optical Company" at 5 South Water Street, as that building was then being vacated by the Rochester Optical Company. In an advertisement published in the American

Journal of Photography, Vol. XV, for August 1895, he stated that "Ernst Gundlach has severed all connections with the old 'Gundlach Optical Company', and we are now the sole owners of his patent of December 9, 1890, under which his celebrated 'Rapid Rectigraphic', 'Perigraphic', and other lenses were so long made." Thus from 1895 there were two Gundlach companies existing independently in Rochester. Late in 1895, the name of the second company was changed to "Ernst Gundlach, Lens Manufacturers" and in 1896 it was changed again to "Ernst Gundlach, Son, and Co." then at 202 Court Street, the officers being B. W. Fenn, Z. P. Taylor, G. B. Gilbert, and A. S. Gilbert. However, the business cannot have been very successful, for two years later the Gundlachs left the city and moved to Chicago. After they left, the plant was re-named "The Rochester Lens Company," and operated by Fenn and Gilbert. It was finally acquired by Wollensak in 1905.

In 1895 after Ernest Gunlach left the orignal original Gundlach Optical Company, it was now being run by H. H. Turner as manager, J. Zellweger and J. C. Reich were opticians.

In 1896 the original Gundlach Optical Company acquired the Milburn Korona Company, which had been founded two years before by Gustave G. Milburn. This aquisition added Korona cameras to their previous line of lenses. In 1896 they began also to advertise shutters, and added the Turner-Reich Anastigmat (U.S. Pat. 539,370) to their lens list.

On August 6, 1902 the company acquired the Manhattan Optical Company Of Cresskill, New Jersey, and changed the name of the company to the "Gundlach-Manhattan Optical Company." with a capital of $600,000. All of the machinery, stock, patents and business of the Manhattan Optical Co moved to the rochester plan, where they continued to make Korna cameras, turner reich lenses, microscopes, and wizard cameras.

In 1904 Gundlach returned to Berlin and founded another company.

In 1908 Earnst Gundlach died.

Around 1926 the name was changed to the Gundlach Manufacturing Company.

In 1928 it was taken over by John E. Seebold, president, and Walter H. Ashby as vice-president, under the strange name of the "Seebold Invisible Camera Company." Seebold left the following year and Ashby became president. They suffered badly in the depression and finally moved to Fairport in October 1935, their old building on Clinton Avenue becoming the Kane Furniture Store.

In 1946 Mr. Turner's son, Donald, founded the Turner Bellows Company at 165 North Water Street, making thousands of bellows a day for Polaroid.

Early in 1954 their remaining assets were acquired by Albert Drucker, of Burke and James in Chicago, and finally re-organized as "Dynamic Optics Inc." with David Goldstein as president.

The firm ceased operations in 1972.



CLICK HERE for a list of Gundlach Cameras with trade catalogue information



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