Last Years

1884 to 1888

Portrait of Carl Zeiss circa 1888.

Carl Zeiss circa 1888 (Foto: ZEISS Archiv).

Therese Zeiss, who married Roderich in 1884, recalls her father-in-law’s final months:

“Carl Zeiss’s health deteriorated rapidly in the fall of 1888. […] Withdrawn into himself, he now seemed thin and shrunken, with only his sparkling eyes to remind us of the upright, vivacious figure he once was with his full white beard and benevolent face. […] He also continued to show an interest in our garden, in the flowers and fruits. A quiet mood had overtaken him, he seemed humble and unassuming, excessively so. His voice became softer and gentler, though his gaze was still as bright, alert and penetrating as ever. […] Previously, when he celebrated a garden party with old friends, something he did frequently and gladly, then there was draft beer and grilled sausages aplenty. He would sometimes be very merry, though he was never loud. When all the children gathered around him, Carl Zeiss would enjoy telling jokes. These occasions always involved a selection of fine food and excellent wines in which his sons and sons-in-law were free to indulge.”

On 3 December 1888, he closed his eyes for the final time. Carl Zeiss was buried in the Johannisfriedhof cemetery next to the Garnisonkirche church. Eight of his most loyal employees acted as pallbearers. His coffin was embellished with a brass cross inlaid with objective lenses which had been produced at the Optical Works.

  • View over Jena towards the north (Landgrafen hill), 1891 (Photo: ZEISS Archives).
    View over Jena towards the north (Landgrafen hill), 1891 (Photo: ZEISS Archives).
  • View over Jena and the Zeiss plant towards the north-east, 1891 (1: Carl Zeiss’s house: administration on the ground floor, living quarters on the first floor, bookbinder’s on the top floor; 2 and 3: buildings for mechanics and optics, 4: Abbe’s house) (Photo: ZEISS Archives).
    View over Jena and the Zeiss plant towards the north-east, 1891 (1: Carl Zeiss’s house: administration on the ground floor, living quarters on the first floor, bookbinder’s on the top floor; 2 and 3: buildings for mechanics and optics, 4: Abbe’s house) (Photo: ZEISS Archives).
  • Blick auf Jena nach Ost (Fuchsturm), 1891 (Foto: ZEISS Archiv).
    View over Jena towards the east (Fuchsturm tower), 1891 (Photo: ZEISS Archives).
Carl Zeiss’s signature

Company size

170 – 490 employees

Microscope development

10,000 microscopes

Documentation

Knight’s Cross, First Class

Current events

Year of the Three Emperors
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