Heinrich Johann Wilhelm Geissler (1814 -1879)
Raised in the German town of Ingelshieb near Cursdorff. His father was like many others in the region of Thuringia a glassblower for making fine glass art like glass pearls. Heinrich Geissler traveled for years through Germany and the Netherlands as an instrument maker before he started in 1852 his own company in Bonn for the production of Physical and Chemical glassware and instruments which he sold all over Europe.
Look here for more info about Geissler.
Franz Müller (1859-1921)
Franz Müller joined the workshop of Heinrich Geissler in 1874 and succeeded the firm in Bonn into the early 20th century as "Geissler's Nachfolger" for the production and sales of Physical and Chemical instruments. Franz Müller build the first cathode ray tubes for Karl Ferdinand Braun in 1897. Dr. H. Geisslers Nachfolger Franz Müller was a main supplier for many trade companies.
Rudolf & Otto Pressler
Otto Pressler (1875-1945)
Rudolf Pressler (1877-1935)
Otto begun his career at his uncle's Robert Goetze glass workshop in 1889 in Leipzig and started in 1897 a workshop in Cursdorf in his own house. Robert Goetze had learned his skills from Heinrich Geissler in Bonn. Soon Otto had his first employees, together with his brothers Rudolf, Hermann and Max the business grew, Max became the salesman of the family. Due to the large sales, they started a workshop in Leipzig to be more close to the Universities and to be competitive to all other firms.
Troubles arose between the brothers, Rudolf went back to Cursdorff to start in 1903 his own workshop "Rudolf Pressler scientific instruments and electrical vacuum tubes". Until WWI (1914-1918) the firm produced all kind of Geissler, Hittorf, Crookes, Braun, Lenard, Perrin and X-ray tubes for Universities and schools.
The Cursdorff factory had a transport issue due to it's location in the mountains which was solved in the twenties when a railway was build. Until then the workshop only produced products for export. The main production came from Leipzig, from 1910 Pressler started the production of X-ray tubes.
After WWI the export increased for a short time until the crisis years before WWII. His son Arno who joined from the twenties, led the firm after Rudolf his death in 1935 until he left 1958.
The Rudolf Pressler company merged in 1960 into VEB Narva.
Otto started with his other brothers the "Otto Pressler Thuringa vacuum tube factory and factory of scientific instruments" in Leipzig.
From 1911 he collaborated with the companies DGL and INFRAM which merged in 1931 into DGL Pressler. In 1943 the factory in Leipzig was bombed and competently destroyed but went on under the same name after the war to produce mainly neon, flash tubes and photocells.
Pressler was a large supplier of vacuum tubes and other scientific instruments, most of them were sold by firms like E. Leybolds Nachfolger, Max Kohl, Ferdinand Ernecke, Cenco, Becker and many others.
Most catalogues before WWII are rare, simple drawn and not dated.
You can find more information on this websites (German)
Glasapparaten museum Cursdorff
Richard Müller-Uri (1859-1929)
Born on 7 febr 1859 in Hüttensteinach (Thuringa) member of a glassblowing family. As a Cousin of Lois Müller-Unkel he also learned his skills at the workshop of Franz Müller in Bonn. In 1894 he joined the company of his cousin in Braunschweig shortly. In February 1896 Richard Müller-Uri started his own company for gas discharge tubes and introduced extra large tube models "so that students in the largest auditoriums with weak eyes could see the tubes." Richard was likely more a salesman than a glassblower.
The company also made many types of X-ray tubes and extended sales with Chemical and physical equipment until the firm could be best described as a trading company. Richard Müller-Uri who had no wife or children, so he sold his company on 1 July 1929 to Werner Glockentöger his bookkeeper.
Four days later Richard Müller-Uri died. Werner Glockentöger his company disappeared in 1950 from the trade register.
Max Albert Otto Heinz (1875-?) worked as a master
glassblower from 1892 for the company into his old days.
You can find more information here (German)
Louis Müller-Unkel (1853-1938)
Born 13 febr 1853 in Smalenbuche (Lauscha) in Thuringa, started probably as a thermometer maker. Went in 1886 to Bonn to work in the workshop of Franz Müller (Geisslers Nachfolger) and learned all skills to make scientific equipment, in this period he made instruments for Elster and Geitel two famous Physicians. From 1894 he worked close together with Franz Müller. Louis started in 1889 his own workshop in Braunschweig where he continued his work for Elster and Geitel. For them he made the first tubes with a filament cathode and photocells. Heinrich Hertz, Philipp Lenard and Conrad Röntgen were also customers of Louis Müller-Unkel. Röntgen probably used tubes made by Louis Müller-Unkel when he discovered the X-rays. He bought highly evacuated Crookes tubes in the end of 1895 followed by more specific X-ray tubes he ordered on 6 January 1896.
From 1912 the company reduced into a repair shop
for chemical glass which closed in 1931.
You can find more information here (German)
The Cathode Ray Tube site
History and Physics Instruments
Greiner & Friedrichs
Founded by Otto Greiner born 1841
In 1866 Otto Friedrichs joins the company in Stützerbach Thuringa, many of the Greiner family went in the glass industry. They made all kind of scientific and chemical glass instruments, a new factory was build in 1924. The company made also X-ray tubes for Conrad Röntgen.
Company established in 1869 until 1926 in Stützerbach Thuringa, produced chemical and scientific glasswork including Geissler tubes.
Two catalogues are known, published in 1895 one in red and one in yellow both catalogues contain the same items.
Next to chemical glasswork and thermometers and barometers you can find beautiful Geissler tubes and Crookes radiometers.
Alfred Charles Cossor started his company in 1859 in Clerkenwell London for manufacturing scientific glassware. His eldest son, also called Alfred Charles Cossor joined the company in 1875. They produced high quality Crookes tubes and made tubes for William Crookes and Oliver Lodge. In 1902 the firm produced the first Braun tube. The younger son Frank Cossor joined the company in 1885 and led the scientific glassware company.
Emil Gundelach (1821-1888)
Living in Gehlberg a small village in Thuringa with a large glass making tradition. He started his glassblowing work in 1852 and died in 1888 His sons Eugen (1854 - 1927) and Max (1858 - 1939) continued the firm, after the community glass shop burned down in 1879 they started their own factory which remained until 1947. Gundelach produced a large amount of X-ray tubes until 1929 and claimed to made the first X-ray tubes for Conrad Röntgen and the first commercial Television and oscilloscope CRT's in Germany (1930).
From 1870 the workshop produced mainly chemical, physical glass, Crookes and Geissler tubes for schools and laboratory which were sold by many trading companies. After his death the company went on under the name "Emil Gundelach". The Sovjet government expropriated the company in 1945 until in 1947 the production went into a "Volkseigenerbetrieb" VEB by the new DDR government. After this the owner of Gundelach moved to Rottershausen to start a new glassworkshop.
The famous Gundelach glass GG-29 had a DRP (Deutsches Reichs Patent) or German Imperial Patent.
The drawings in the catalogue are similar to the ones from Müller Uri. If they worked together is not clear, Müller-Uri probably sold the Gundelach products. They both were present on the World Fair in 1904.
Information about the Gehlberg history
can be found in this German PDF.
C.H.F Müller (1845 -1912)
Carl Heinrich Florenz Müller.
Müller was a well known glassblower born in the Thuringa area where he learned the skills of glassmaking. In 1863 he went to Hamburg to work in the glasshop of Greiner making scientific glasswork. In 1865 he started in Hamburg his own workshop making Venetian fluteglass immitations from the 16th and 17th century for which he was rewarded in 1876 with a silvermedal. Since 1874 he produced scientific glasswork like Geissler and Crookes tubes. Just after the discovery of Röntgen in march 1896 his first X-Ray tube was used in the hospital of Eppendorf. From then he started to produce X-ray tubes under the name "C.H.F. Müller Röntgen werk".
In 1920 a new factory building was used in Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel. Müller patented the first watercooled anticathode tube in 1899. In 1928 the company was merged with Philips Medical Systems.
Catalogue Rudolf Pressler
picture courtesy of Alastair Wright
Finding the origin of scientific instruments is not always easy, especially glasswork. Dating these instruments is sometimes even harder, on the tube info page you can find more information. When we go back in time we see a lot of glasswork produced in the eastern part of Germany, almost all came from the Thuringa area which was a glass producing area since the middle ages. Early glassblowers often sold their own products from a little shop often situated in their own home, many
of those small companies were related by family or lived in the same village. The products varied from glass eyes, Christmas ornaments, barometers, thermometers
to physical and chemical glasswork. Production of Geissler and Crookes tubes was probably only a minor part of their work, Chemical glassware was most likely the biggest source of income. The scientific publications of the discoveries by scientist also stimulated the local production of tubes by University instrument makers.
If tubes were labeled it was a stamp like paper which, in many cases, didn't survive over the years. With the introduction of X-ray tubes we can see the first steps in marking and labeling the glass with maker and / or serial numbers and sometimes the name engraved or etched on a inner part of the tube. Best known for their company labels are the X-ray tubes made by C.H.F. Müller, Emil Gundelach and Reiniger Gebbert & Shall.
The large trading houses were able to make rich illustrated Physics catalogues with sometimes more than 1000 pages and over different 10.000 instruments, however when we search for earlier documentation than 1900 we often only find crude drawn examples of tubes, or even only descriptions. It looks like the interest in vacuum tube technology was stimulated after the discovery of X-ray's by Professor Röntgen.
On this page you can find a list of the best known glass instrument making companies from the past.
The old advertisements on this page come from Annalen der Physik und Chemie 1900-1904.
Page from the Geissler Nachfolger
Very early French 1870 catalogue from the Parisian scientific shop Loiseau Fils.
Greiner & Friedrichs 1911
From the French industry is not much known, in the early days many instrument makers like Ducretet, Loiseau Fils, Pericaud, Rhumkorff and Radiguet sold tubes.
H.F.A. Stehr Hamburg
Julius Brückner & Co
Started the company in 1870 in Ilmenau Thüringa, produced many Scientific Instruments.
Julius Brückner catalogue 1900
Reiniger, Gebbert & Schall
Erwin Moriz Reiniger from Erlangen started his company in 1877 and merged with Max Gebbert and Karl Friedrich Schall in 1886 as a Scientific trading business selling all kind of instruments. In 1893 they had 100 workers in the factory. After 1896 the company concentrated the production on X-Ray equipment. In 1925 Siemens & Halske became the majority stockholder.
Page from the 1897 catalogue of Reiniger Gebbert & Schall
First commercial X-Ray advert
Radiguet April from
La Science Illustree 1896.
Radiguet (& Massiot)
When the optician Eren-Antoine Radiguet (1824-1887) died, his
son Arthur- Honoré Radiguet (1850-1905) took over the company and
started a scientific shop in the center of Paris from 1880. Selling
and producing scientific instruments. When Georges Massiot (his son
in law) joined the firm in 1899 it became known as Radiguet &
Massiot. The store was located on Rue des Filles du Calvaire in the
center of Paris and became an important business in X-Ray
equipment and projection apparatus (Moltini). Catalogues are known
Arthur-Honoré Radiguet died like many other pioneers on
overexposure of X-Rays in 1905.
The French company produced scientific instruments and toys.
Situated at Boulevard Voltaire 85 in Paris, well known for it's
rooster in the company label. It sold different scientific teaching
boxes, trains, steam engines and magic lanterns and Physics
equipment like Crookes and Geissler tubes. Well known are the
little colored glass Geissler tubes and different types of Geissler
motors. After 1900 the company went also into the telegraph and
radio business but remained making scientific toys into the
C. Desaga Heidelberg
Cornelius Heinz Aachen
Ströhlein & Co Düsseldorf
1892-1967 Need info
Ferdinand Ottomar Robert Goetze (1850-1916)
Worked in Bonn in the workshop of Heinrich Geissler just like Franz Müller. In 1876 he started a glassblowing shop in Leipzig. Influenced by Geissler and Zöllner (who saw the first radiometers made by Crookes) he produced light mills just before the public breakthrough of Crookes his radiometer. Robert Goetze also made many types of Puluj tubes (electrical radiometers). He was awarded with a silver medal on the Electrical exhibition in Paris 1881. Robert Goetze was a well known producer of the earliest X-Ray tubes in Germany. In the 1920's CHF Müller produced a special Goetze focus tube. Despite all his company stayed a small business but with a great offspring by means of his nephews, the brothers Otto and Rudolf Pressler who learned their craftsmanship at his shop.
special thanks to Prof. Dr-Ing. habil Günter Dörfel and Mr. Rudolf G.A. Fricke
for providing me information from their research on the early German glassblowers
Richard Müller-Uri, Louis Müller-Unkel and Robert Goetze.
Page from the 1898-1899 Radiguet catalogue. Surprisingly the same picture as Loiseau Fils used thirty years earlier in 1870.
Radiguet catalogue 1888-1889
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Prof. Röntgen visiting the company.