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19th Century American Microscope Makers
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Joseph Zentmayer - Microscope Maker

Born in Germany, in 1826, Zentmayer emigrated to the United States, as a young man, already trained in optics and instrument making. He went into business in 1853, in Philadelphia, making his first large stand,(the Grand American), around 1858. Over several decades, Zentmayer turned out a great variety of stands, from the elaborate "American Centennial" to the smaller "American Histological" and, earlier, the "United States Army Hospital" stand. Zentmayer's business remained in Philadelphia until his death in 1888, and, was carried on by his sons into the mid-1890's.

Zentmayer article in American Artifacts No.37


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Case-mounted Portable Microscope
Scientific Medical & Mechanical Antiques, issue 31

American Student Stand
Behrens The Microscope in Botany, 1885

American Histological Stand
binocular version
Behrens The Microscope in Botany, 1885

American Continental Stand
Designed by Joseph Zentmayer's son, Frank, several years after his father's death.
The American Monthly Microscopical Journal, August 1892

American Centennial Stand
Dr. Leopold Dippel, Das Mikroskop, 1882

Botanical Dissecting Microscope
Behrens The Microscope in Botany, 1885

U.S. Patents

No. 55195 Combination of Lenses for Photographic Purposes, May 29, 1866
Although not related to microscopy, this patent for a simplified convertable lens was a major breakthrough in lens design.

No. 181120 Improvement in Microscopes, August 15, 1876
This patent covers Zentmayer's swinging mirror assembly and novel stage attachment, as well as his new fine adjustment mechanism. The patent was incorporated into the design of his two new models in 1876, the American Histological and the American Centennial stands.

19th century journal reprints

Memoir of Joseph Zentmayer
Journal of the Franklin Institute, 1888

Obituary - Joseph Zentmayer
From the Philadelphia Ledger, 1888

Zentmayer's American Continental Stand
From The American Monthly Microscopical Journal, 1892

Joseph Zentmayer's 1879 Price-List
From The Microscope & Microscopical Technology, Heinrich Frey, 1880 American edition.

other microscope makers

© 1997, 1999, American Artifacts, Taneytown, MD.
Contact: Richard Van Vleck