In the event of a government shutdown, American History will remain OPEN through at least Saturday, October 7, by using prior year funds. Visit for updates.

Prism Binoculars

Prism Binoculars

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
This is a brass instrument covered, in large part, with dark leather. The exposed parts have a black japan finish. The objective lenses are 9 mm diameter. The eye end of the left prism housing is marked “Zeiss Stereo Field Glass / PAT. JUNE 22, 97 / Power +8.” That on the right is marked “Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. / ROCHESTER, N.Y.” The top of the center post is marked “7530.” The eyepieces are separately adjustable, as is the inter-ocular distance and the focus overall.
Bausch & Lomb was licensed by Carl Zeiss, Jena, to produce prism binoculars under Ernst Abbe’s several patents, using Schott glass made in Jena. The central focus, as found in this example, is a feature that Zeiss added after 1900.
Currently not on view
Object Name
patent date
production dates
ca 1900-1920
date made
Zeiss, Carl
Bausch & Lomb Optical Company
place made
United States: New York, Rochester
Physical Description
aluminum (principal overall material)
brass (crossbars, posts, etc. material)
leather (scope covering material)
glass (lens material)
black (overall color)
painted (overall production method/technique)
closed: 102 cm x 120 cm x 50 cm; 40 5/32 in x 47 1/4 in x 19 11/16 in
overall: 110 mm x 135 mm; 4 5/16 in x 5 5/16 in
overall: 2 1/2 in x 4 3/4 in x 4 1/8 in; 6.35 cm x 12.065 cm x 10.4775 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Nicholas Grossman
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Hi, I reached your comment option looking for information about an item, exactly like the one you display here. ID NUMBER 1982.0001.02. It was produced under agreement with the Zeiss company as they owned the patent. I collect antique prism binoculars and have a serious collection covering some of the earliest Zeiss and Hensoldt glasses, now I just won this item in an auction and I know it is rare, both because it soon was obsolete with new designs surfacing, and as only few survived. What I am looking for, are informations from BauchLomb about this particular design and the serie it belong. As a collector, the number of binoculars of this design were made, The serial number of my item are 9126, but that do not lead to further informations as what was the starting number and where to find lists corresponding serial number to year of build, as many other makers provided. Now the interesting part of this, by many would be the agreement both firms agreed, how the patent was shared aso. Being a collector my view are wider and also cover the individual piece in my collection. How to find the informations I seek and where is basically what I hope to find an answer for.

Note: Comment submission is temporarily unavailable while we make improvements to the site. We apologize for the interruption. If you have a question relating to the museum's collections, please first check our Collections FAQ. If you require a personal response, please use our Contact page.