The Cathode Ray Tube site
History and Physics Instruments
The company of Max Kohl
Workshop for Mechanism of Precision and Electro technics in Chemnitz was established by Max Kohl
himself on 14th march 1876. In 1888 the firm had 19 employees, in 1911 they had 405 workers in the
plant at the Adorfer strasse in Chemnitz. Max Kohl died in 1908, after that the company went further as
Max Kohl AG (Action Geselschaft or share company)
From 1938 the plant was a weapon producer for the "Third Reich" and was bombed heavily during
WWII. What was left of the of the machine park went to Russia. The company name was
removed from the trade register in 1948 and from 1949 it went on as VEB. (Volkseigener Betrieb)
The company did not date their catalogues but in the recommendations in the preface you can
read some dates, adding one year to the most recent date will give the most likely printing date.
Not all parts were published the same year, there are also later supplements. The numbering is not
very logical and suggests catalogues in between, probably biological, chemical or X-ray publications.
All catalogues are now rare collector items,no.12, 20,21 and 50 are the largest catalogues but there is
also a reduced number 12, probably an export catalogue for the US.
Known Physics publications with estimates dates are:
no.12 1902 large catalogue published in three languages French-German-English 700 pages.
no.21 1905 large catalogue published in three languages French-German-English.
no.22 1906 similar to no.12 and 21 available in different languages.
no.50 1911 large catalogue in separate parts, # 1 furniture, # 2&3 combined Physics # 4 furniture.
and a combined catalogue with #1,2,3 in several languages with 1131pages.
no.100 1927 three smaller separate publications # 1 furniture, # 2&3 combined Physics.
no.150 1928 small sized catalogue 250 pages.
E. Leybold's Nachfolger Cologne
Ernst Leybold (1827-1907) started in 1850 selling apothecary glasswork, from 1854 he
expanded his sales with scientific apparatus and started in 1867 with his own
glassblowing and mechanical production for teaching science and laboratory. After his
retirement in 1870 he sold the company to Emil Schmidt and Otto Ladendorff who
renamed Leybold into "E. Leybold's Nochfolger. In 1906 Leybolds Nachfolger stepped
into the vacuum technology. The company Ströhlein & Co in Düsseldorf a technical
glassblowing company seems to be the owner in 1912. From 1927 the company was
named Leyolds Nachfolger A.-G.
There are several important catalogues, also not dated.
First catalogue 1878
The jubilee catalogue with more than 9000 instruments 1905?
The big main catalogue (brown) with more than 13000 instruments 1914
A regular (green) one in 1929
The company still exist. http://www.ld-didactic.de/index.php?id=10
Richard Müller Uri (1859-1929) started his
company in Braunsweig in 1895, learned his skills
at the famous glass shop from Franz Müller
"Geissler's Nachfolger"in Bonn. He started making
vacuum tubes but soon extended his sales with all
kind of scientific instruments. The company
quickly went into the X-ray tube production and
developed a special tube for the treatment of skin
tuberculosis. Next to his own products the company
sold many products made by other firms especially
scientific teaching equipment. The 1909 catalogue
displays several drawings of tubes which are the
same as from Emil Gundelach.
After his death his family continued the company
which was removed from the trade register in 1950.
Ferdinand Ernecke (1832-1914) started his
company in 1859 in Berlin and is one of the
oldest German companies in scientific
instruments in Germany. He worked closely with
several physicists for the development of
scientific instruments. In 1898 the firm got the
title of royal court supplier for the German Kaiser
and King of Prussia Around 1915 the company
disappeared. Several old catalogues can be
found on the Internet.
Koehler & Volckmar is a company which still exists
Fredrich Volckmar (1799-1876) started the company
in 1829 selling books, in 1917 the it merged with Koch,
Neff & Oetinger. In 1918 Volckmar merged again with
Volckmar into Koehler & Volckmar AG.
The new company became a large supplier for
educational equipment and books. In 1930 there were
over 2000 people working in the company, in WWII all
buildings were destroyed, after the war the company
started the book business again.
Large trading houses like Max kohl, Leybold's Nachfolger, Richard Müller-Uri and Ferdinand Ernecke became market leaders, selling thousands of different instruments, many
made in their own factories, but they resold also other equipment from smaller companies. The financially best period must have been between 1900 and 1914 the beginning of
First World War, looking at the after the war the catalogues get thinner but still present until the Second World War.
Out of Europe the instruments were resold by many firms, these instruments had often a label "made in Germany". The trading companies took part in the famous world
exhibitions which showed all new technical stuff, in the catalogues they proudly mention the prizes and gold medals won on these world exhibitions. This was a commercial
bonus and gained the sales all over the world.
This is where we find the difficulty, inside information about the reselling of other company products is almost unknown, but what we know is when we study the old
catalogues that often the same pictures (in our case Geissler and Crookes tubes) are used in catalogues from different resellers which indicates that these instruments came
from the same workshop. The same pictures were used for many years so this is also not accurate as a reference for dating. Probably the large trading houses didn't produce
their own tubes but resold them from the glassblowing companies like Greiner & Friedrichs, Müller-Uri, Franz Müller - Geissler's Nachfolger and Pressler. Only Leybold's
Nachfolger and Koehler & Volckmar make notice of their own glass department but it is difficult to say what was made, probably only chemical glasswork.
Of course there were a lot more smaller workshops in Germany who made these tubes too, but there is almost nothing known about them. Many companies disappeared in the
both wars or were forced to make equipment for the war industry. A few still exist as scientific supplier.
List of awards on exhebitions worldwide
In this catalogue many Pressler tubes can be found.
Bing the toy selling company from Nuremberg Germany
became in the early 20th century the largest toy factory in the
world. The brothers Bing started in 1890, selling next to dolls,
toys, trains and boats also scientific toys like magic lanterns,
static machines, telegraph equipment, Ruhmkorff coils,
Crookes and Geissler tubes, and physics boxes even with toy
X-ray tubes! All the tubes presented in the catalogue are small
The 1912 edition presents the catalogues published between
1898 and 1905, the tubes are probably made by Pressler.
The catalogue is still as replica for sale.
ISBN 1 872727 75 1
Replica Bing catalogue from 1912
Koehler & Volckmar
Arthur Pfeiffer Wetzlar ca 1925
Catalogue with 32 pages of vacuum tubes, with great certainty produced by Pressler.
Like it? Sign the Guestbook!