Askania Werke, Berlin
Askania's history begins in 1871, when the inventor Carl Bamberg (12 July, 1847- 04 June 1892), a protégée of Carl Zeiss and son of a horologist, establishes the Werkstätten für Präzisions Mechanik und Optik (workshop for fine mechanics and optics) in Berlin and manufactures precision instruments for navies, observatories, research and expeditions.1,2 They had two workshops: the Bambergwerk (established in 1871, see figure 1) in Berlin-Friedenau and the Central Workshop in Dessau (established in 1872 by the Deutsche Continental-Gas-Gesellschaft).3
Bamberg acquired Otto Toepfer und Sohn in 1919, Hermann Wanschaff in 1922 and Hans Heele in 1923, forming Carl Bamberg Friedenau.4 The actual firm 'Askania Werke AG' was established in 1921 by joining the Centralwerkstatte Dessau.3 In 1927 the firm Dr. A. Koepsel GmbH., specialised in electrical measurements, was incorporated. Ever expanding Askania was forced to build a new workshop in Berlin-Mariendorf.3 The firm would grow to about 20,000 employees at the start of the second world war.5
In 1959 Askania was already experimenting with a theodolite with electronic diametrical circle reading, the display of which was housed in an external unit.6
Thanks to collaboration with Keuffel & Esser Askania also became known on the American market. The former were still producing traditional theodolites with metal circles, while the market asked for the modern approach of instruments making introduced by Heinrich Wild in the 1920s.7
In the mid 1960s Askania was bought by the Dutch Oldelft (the later Delft instruments) in order to make it possible for them to develop the first electronic tachymeter (or what we would now call a total station), the Askania ART.8 After spending some 6 million Dutch guilders and being unsure if the market was ready for it the project was stopped in favour of a military remote sensing project.8 Askania was sold again, which was the end of this Dutch piece of geodetic history.8
In 1967 Askania was part of the Conti-Elektro Concern and by then only consisted of some 1,600-1,700 employees.5 At that time they were active in (radio)astronomy, nuclear-fysics, measuring and control technology, geophysics, and geodesy.5 In 1971 Askania the firm ceased to exist as a result of the take-over by Siemens.2
In 2006 Askania was re-established, now producing quality mechanical wrist-watches after classical designs.2 They still feature the same logo as the original firm.1
Instrument(s) in the collection
Askania instrument(s) in the collection:
Notes: History page Askania web site.
: Askania Werke AG page on German Wikipedia site (with thanks to Jürgen Hoefeld for pointing me to this page).
: French c1931 Askania brochure and catalogue (with thanks to John Vossepoel for pointing me to this site).
: See historic summary of Bamberg/Askania.
: A.A.M. Hart, "Verslag van de Excursie van het Landmeetkundig Gezelschap Snellius naar Berlijn, Potsdam en Dresden, 18 t/m 26 februari 1967", in: Geodesia, Jaargang 9, Nr. 4, (1967), p.79.
: H.L. van Gent, "De '44. Deutscher Geodätentag 1959'", in: Tijdschrift voor Kadaster en Landmeetkunde, 75e jaargang, nr. 6, (1959), p.369.
: W. Schermerhorn, "Ontwikkelingen in de landmeetkundige wereld binnen en buiten onze grenzen.", in: Tijdschrift voor Kadaster en Landmeetkunde, 78e jaargang, nr. 1, (1959), p.28.
: T. Bogaerts, "Het Nederlands Gedachtegoed", in: De Hollandse, Jaargang 4, nr. 1, (2002), p. 15.
figure 1: French c1931 Askania brochure and catalogue.
figure 2: Montre24 Watch Portal: Askania Watches.
figure 3: Askania Werke AG page on German Wikipedia site.
If you have any questions and/or remarks please let me know.
Surveyor's crosses... Geodetic Sextants... Theodolites... Total Stations... Levels... Standards... Tools... Firms...
Ahrend Askania Carl Zeiss Jena Chesterman Doyle & Son Jenoptik Jena Kern Aarau Keuffel & Esser Lerebours SAT-SAGEM Secrétan à Paris Société des Lunetiers Tibaut Desimpelaere Wild Heerbrugg