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LEITZ

Ernst Leitz I (1843-1920)

When Leitz joined Carl Kellner’s Optical Institute in Wetzlar 1864, he was an instrument maker trained in making physical and chemical apparatus, and also had several years experience making Swiss watches. After Kellner’s death in 1855, Leitz became the main shareholder in the company. By 1869, he owned it outright and continued in business under his own name. He introduced serial production and sales increased rapidly after 1871. They sold their 10,000 microscope in 1887, and in 1907, Robert Koch took delivery of the 100,000th. Paul Erlich received the 150,000th.
The First World War had severe economic consequences for the company. Ernst Leitz I died in 1920, and the company passed to his 2nd son, Ernst Leitz II.

 

Ernst Leitz II (1871-1956)

Leitz II revolutionised photography by expanding the company’s product range to include portable cameras under the name Leica (an abbreviation of Lei(tz) ca(mera)). He launched the Leica 0, a combination of designs by 2 of his employees, in 1925. Oskar Barnack designed a camera that used 35mm film and Max Berek was responsible for the lenses.
The company also produced other instruments in the 1920s and 1930s, including polarising and fluorescent microscopes.
In recent years, it has become known that during World War II, Leitz helped some of his Jewish employees reached the USA and protected others. Many of his employees were Ukrainian complex forced by the Nazi regime were treated well by Leitz and his daughter (for which she was sent to  a prison camp), and it is also claimed that he saved over 1000 Polish Jews by employing them in his enamel factory in Kraków. He resisted all efforts to publicise its activities after the war.
When he died, control of the company passed to his sons Ernst Leitz III, Ludwig and Gunther.

LEITZ microscopes

Compound achromatic microscope, stand I

LEITZ

1886-1887

Compound achromatic microscope, stand IA

LEITZ

1886-1887

Compound achromatic microscope, ‘stand V’

LEITZ

1888

Dissecting microscope with achromatic magnifier after Steinheil

LEITZ

1900-1930

Compound achromatic microscope, stand IA

LEITZ

1902

Compound achromatic microscope, stand V

LEITZ

1904

Compound achromatic microscope, stand IIb

LEITZ

1908-1909

Compound achromatic microscope, stand IIb

LEITZ

1909

Compound achromatic microscope, stand III

LEITZ

1909

Compound achromatic microscope, stand C

LEITZ

ca. 1917

Compound achromatic microscope with binocular tube

LEITZ

1929

Compound achromatic microscope

LEITZ

ca. 1934

Compound achromatic polarisation microscope, stand III M

LEITZ

1936-1937

Compound achromatic microscope, stand ‘Laborlux’

LEITZ

1951-1952

Compound achromatic microscope, stand ‘SM’

LEITZ

1955-1957

Compound achromatic polarisation microscope, stand BS

LEITZ

1956

Compound achromatic microscope, stand Ortholux

LEITZ

1959-1960

Compound achromatic projection microscope

LEITZ

1960-1970

Compound achromatic projection microscope

LEITZ

1960-1980

Compound achromatic microscope, binocular tube, type SM-D Lux

LEITZ

ca. 1970

Compound achromatic microscope, stand ‘Orthoplan’

LEITZ

1970-1971

Compound achromatic microscope, stand ‘Orthoplan’

LEITZ

1980-1982

LEITZ accessories microscopy

Microtome after Minot

LEITZ

1890-1930

Swinging microtome

LEITZ

1910-1940

Microscope lamp, type ‘Beech’

LEITZ

1930-1950

Microscope lamp, type ‘Beech’

LEITZ

ca. 1935

LEITZ other optical equipment

Achromatic stand magnifier

LEITZ

1925-1950