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Bausch and Lomb Grave in Mt Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY | by Brooklyn Bridge Baby
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Bausch and Lomb Grave in Mt Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY

John Jacob Bausch was born in Gross Suessen, Germany, of a poor family, and was apprenticed to a spectacle maker. At the age of 20, in 1850, he decided to emigrate to America, and after a harrowing 49-day journey in a sailing vessel, landed in New York. He proceeded to Buffalo, where there was a cholera epidemic, and after trying unsuccessfully to find work, he moved to Rochester, where again he had the greatest difficulty in finding any sort of employment. He finally, at age 23, decided to set up an optician's shop in the Reynolds Arcade under the name of "J. J. Bausch, Optician". At that time scarcely anybody in this country used eyeglasses, and many people had never even seen a pair, so his sales were almost nil. In 1856, as his trade card shows, his shop was called the "J. J. Bausch Optical Institute."

 

In his endless struggle to find work, and even to survive, Bausch was greatly helped by a Mr. Henry Lomb, a cabinet maker, whom he probably met at the Turn Verein club. Lomb was born in 1828 and had also emigrated from Germany in 1849. He was a bachelor, and in 1853 decided to join Bausch, where he proceeded to learn the optician's trade, and lodged with the Bausch family, turning over his earnings to them. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Lomb immediately enlisted, and finally rose to the rank of captain. He returned to Rochester in 1863, and in the following year the firm became "Bausch and Lomb, Optician." By then business had improved to the point where they could open a factory at the corner of Andrews and Water Streets. Henry Lomb married in 1865, and in the following year moved to New York to act as the firm's sales agent there. He died in 190S, and because of his many civic activities and particularly his great interest in the Rochester Institute of Technology, a handsome memorial shaft was erected in his memory in 1932 in Rochester. Incidentally, the name of the company was changed to the "Vulcanite Optical Instrument Company" from 1866 to 1876, as this material was being extensively used to make spectacle frames. The name was changed back to the "Bausch and Lomb Optical Company" in 1876. After World War II it became "Bausch and Lomb Inc."

 

After the Civil War, interest in spectacles rose rapidly, and the company constructed an enlarged factory in 1868 at River and Water Streets, followed six years later by an even larger building at the present location in St. Paul Street, the date 1874 being carved over the door. During the first World War they added a large building in front of the old one. We are now told that the company plans to abandon the entire establishment and move into the old Bond Clothing building on North Goodman Street.

 

Returning to 1875; at the urging of Bausch's eldest son Edward, the firm decided to branch out into optical instruments, beginning with the microscope for which there was a growing demand. To get started, they hired a temperamental character named Ernst Gundlach, who had previously made microscopes in Berlin and was then living in Hackensack, New Jersey. Gundlach was employed by Bausch and Lomb from 1876 to 1878, but they quarreled frequently and finally separated. The microscope work, however, proceeded successfully under Edward Bausch's direction, and by 1903 they had sold about 44,000 instruments.

 

Bausch and Lomb added photographic lenses to their line in 1883, and began the manufacture of shutters in 1888. In 1892 they became the only company in America licensed to make Zeiss Anastigmats and other lenses. They also made Compound and Compur shutters by agreement with Deckel. These arrangements were finally terminated in World War I.

 

Some 1903 statistics are impressive. At that time Bausch and Lomb was making some 20 million spectacle lenses a year, and had manufactured 500,000 photographic lenses and 550,000 shutters. As you know, the company is still in existence with branches in several other cities and abroad, making a wide range of optical and electronic products of the highest quality.

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Taken on January 10, 2009