Online Scientific Instrument Trade Catalogues

This page offers many web links where it is possible to find online scientific instrument trade catalogues. Please note that these links provide immediate access to the list of catalogues at a particular institution and not to the home page of the institution that is making them available.

  • Smithsonian Institution Library, Washington D.C., U.S.A. - The Smithsonian Institution present a impressive series of American and European catalogues (1800-1914) of firms producing physical, astronomical, optical, meteorological, electrical, chemical, surveying, and other instruments. Most of the “great” makers of the 19th century are found at this website.
  • Catalogues at the Museu de astronomia e Ciências Afins, Rio de Janeiro - The Museum of Astronomy and Science of Rio de Janeiro has one of the most important collection of scientific instruments in South America. The Museum also preserves more than one hundred scientific instrument catalogues (from 1874 to 1965 circa) of the best English, German, American and French makers of astronomical, physical, optical and surveying instruments.
  • Max Planck Institute for History of Science, Berlin, Germany - “The Virtual Laboratory” of the Max Planck Institute for History of Science in Berlin is an extremely rich and articulated website dedicated to “esperimentalization of life” which also present a series of trade catalogues (partially preserved in private collections) of firms producing apparatus for experimental psychology, physiology, acoustics, physiotherapy and medicine.
  • G. Coradi, Zürich, Switzerland - For several decades the firm founded in 1880 by Gottlieb Coradi of Zürich was a leader in the production of high precision mathematical and drawing instruments such as intégrateurs, planimètres, coordinatometers, pantographs, and harmonic analyzers. In this website (organized by a descendent of G. Coradi) together with several illustrations of these apparatus, it is possible to find a Coradi's catalogue (N. 37) from the early 20th century.
  • Jakob Kern, Aarau, Switzerland - The firm founded by Jakob Kern in 1819 produced thousands of surveying, topographic and astronomical apparatus, as well as drawing instruments. Kern was certainly one of the most important Swiss manufacturer of scientific instruments of the 19th and 20th century. This website presents online Kern's illustrated catalogue of 1878.
  • - An 1816 catalogue of this very famous firm which produced excellent optical instruments during the first decades of the 19th century as published in Zeitschrift für Astronomie (August 1816) and offered online in an very well documented private website on historical microscopes and optical apparatus.
  • Lèon Laurent, Paris - The Parisian instrument maker L. Laurent (active 1872-1892), who was one of the successor of the famous Soleil dynasty, specialized in the production of optical instruments. His 1878 catalogue is available at the website of Gallica, which presents online thousands of books, images, and various documents preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale Française.
  • Kinematics Models for Design, Cornell University - Kinematics models (and models of machines) were common in the mechanical and physical cabinets of the second half of the 19th and early 20th century. The firm J. Schröder of Darmstadt and G. Voigt of Berlin following the researches of famous mechanical engineers Ferdinand Redtenbacher (1809-1863) and Franz Reuleaux (1829-1905) and produced an impressive numbers of these didactic instruments. The catalogues of the above mentioned firms (as well as an important number of book related to mechanics) are on-line at the website of the Kinematic Models for Design Digital Library at Cornell University; furthermore this web site contain a large number of KMODDL eBooks.
  • - A group of German collectors of ancient meteorological instruments (Gemeinschaft von Sammlern alter Wetterinstrumente) has a very interesting website with a large number of pictures, references and documents related to these apparatus. In it, one can find more than 20 on-line trade catalogues of English, German and French firms which produced meteorological instruments between 1880-1939.
  • French Trade Catalogues of Medical and Surgical Instruments - The Bibliothèque Universitaire de Médicine of Paris has a rich website with an important series of on-line publications. Among them one can find a number of French trade catalogues of medical and surgical instruments. (both 19th and early 20th century).
  • European Public Meteorological Station Instruments - A group of European collectors and lovers of ancient meteorological instruments has an interesting website especially dedicated to "Wettersäule": the public meteorological stations, which were extremely popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. In this website one can find literature and various catalogues of makers (such as the famous W. Lambrecht) who were specialized in manufacturing and installing of these apparatus.
  • American Meteorological Instruments and Slide Rules - From a web site dedicated to the history of technology and "FTL Design" by Bill Burns, there are the trade catalogues of Henry J. Green and of J. Halden. The former was one of the most important American maker of meteorological instruments, the latter was producing slide rules, drawing and surveying instruments.
  • Keuffel & Esser Slide Rules - The American manufacturing company Keuffel & Esser specialized in surveying and drawing instruments produced slide rules for over 100 years. Clark McCoy and Michael O'Leary worked together for scanning an impressive number of pages of various Keuffel & Esser trade catalogues from 1881 to 1972.
  • - This scientific instrument exhibition, held in London in 1876, presented thousands of modern and historical instruments (and related documents) coming from the most important makers and collections and it was probably the most important of its kind.
  • Astro 30, Section Astronomique, Carl Zeiss Jena - Since the beginning of the 20th century, the German firm Carl Zeiss in Jena has been one of the most important manufacturer of telescopes, astronomical instruments, domes, and various apparatus for equipping the world's astronomical observatories. Consisting of nearly 140 pages, the French version of the catalogue "Astro 30" describes and illustrates the Zeiss's production in this field at the beginning of the 1930s.
  • - A very interesting and well-illustrated catalogue of a lesser known German manufacturer and retailer presenting hundreds of physical and chemical apparatus.
  • Historische Kataloge für optisches Glas aus Jenaer Fertigung. From the "Fernoptik" website provided by Albrecht Köhler of Jena are a few important catalogues of the glass manufacturer Schott and one from Jenaer Glaswerk. Click on the “Glas-Kataloge” link; it is the last line in the webpage’s left column.
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