Velostigmat Lenses

Booklet courtesy of Dick Blacher. Pictures and comments courtesy of Paul Jackson.

Velostigmat Lenses

undated but most likely from the early 1920's

This booklet each measures 7 1/4" x 5 1/4" and have 32 numbered pages. Velostigmat lenses were manufactured by the Wollensak Co. of Buffalo N.Y. This company was an offshoot from Bausch and Lomb. This booklet is not listed in McKenna.

Wollensak Optical Company

The Wollensak company was a branch off from Bausch and Lomb. Andrew Wollensak was first employed as a machinist by Bausch and Lomb in 1882, and became a foreman the following year. He helped Edward Bausch with the design of the Iris Diaphragm shutter in 1890, and probably worked on other shutters as well. In 1899 he and his brother John decided to establish a new company for the purpose of manufacturing a line of high quality shutters which could be sold at a reasonable price. The brothers managed to obtain financial help from Stephen Rauber, former president of the Union Brewing Company in North Clinton Avenue, and the new company, Rauber and Wollensak, was established in a building at 280 Central Avenue. Mr. Rauber died in 1901, and the name of the firm was then changed to the Wollensak Optical Company. The following year Wollensak commenced the production of lenses as well as shutters. The famous 'Optimo' shutter was designed by Andrew Wollensak in 1909, and was sold extensively until 1930. The company purchased the Rochester Lens Company in 1905, thereby obtaining the right to manufacture the 'Royal' anastigmat line developed by that company.

Andrew Wollensak senior, president of the company since its foundation, died in January 1936, his brother John having died three years earlier. John left five children, of whom Andrew A. and Frank J. remained active in the business for many years, and I knew them both. In 1913 the company moved to 1415 Clinton Avenue North at Norton Street, and in 1924 to 872 Hudson Avenue. In 1938 a larger and more desirable building a few yards to the south, at 850 Hudson Avenue, fell vacant (it had been a clothing factory), and Wollensak moved into it. Unfortunately, during the past 15 years, after several changes of ownership, including Revere and 3M, the company gradually went downhill and in 1972 finally closed its doors.

Wollensak was one of Rochester's finest companies, and at their height in 1958 they had over 1200 employees. Their lenses, shutters, and other products were considered to be excellent, and during the war they made a wide variety of optical equipment for the armed forces.

A History of The Rochester, NY Camera and Lens Companies
by Rudolf Kingslake
Source: Kingslake, Rudolf, 1974, "The Rochester Camera and Lens Companies", Rochester NY, Photographic Historical Society.

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