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Ferdinand Rudolf Hassler The Life of Pioneer F. R. Hassler by swisstopo

Swiss emigrant Ferdinand Rudolf Hassler, born in Aarau in 1770, set out in 1805 to measure the new world. 

Arriving on American shores in the early eighteen century and armed with exact copies of the Comité (ur-) meter and weights in his trunk, Ferdinand Rudolf Hassler was appointed in 1807 by President Thomas Jefferson as the first superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey. Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury (and fellow Swiss emigree), issued a call for a plan for the Survey of the Coast. Later that year, Rudolf Hassler’s plan was selected.

The U.S. Coast Survey was this country’s first scientific agency. In 1878 it was to become the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, and almost a century later, in 1970, was reorganized to its present day U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the more familiar NOAA¹.

Hassler is considered the father of modern-day NOAA², which in 2007 was celebrating its 200th anniversary.  Later, he also was to become the first superintendent of the predecessor organization of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST.

Also in that same year several exhibits were held in Switzerland to honor the achievements of this outstanding pioneer and scientist who was of great significance to American history.
A wholly dedicated website to F. R. Hassler by swisstopo can be found under the following web address of http://www.f-r-hassler.ch/en and another historic commemoration of his life is featured under NOAA³.

S.I.P. Comité Meter S.I.P. Geneve Click to enlarge No. 4 H-cross section dimensions

Shown here is a fine example of a late 19th century, copy 4 of a Comité meter made by S.I.P. GENEVE (Societe Genevoise d'Instruments de Physique SA). It has an H-profile or cross section and the metal is of a nickel-silver alloy. The raised etalon is inscribed in mm and cm intervals. Most likely the manufacturing year dates to somewhere after 1875, the year when the international meter convention was held. This particular specimen was delivered to the then Russian Empire, a first time signer to the treaty in 1875.

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Kern Aarau Instruments, 19th and 20th Century

Kern Alidade 1908 Hanoi

Kern Tachymeter No 19087
"System Moinot"
Nov. 1908 "Bourret" Hanoi
World Exhibition Turin 1911

World Exhibition 1911 Torino 2 Grand-Prix Letter-head. Quote for 3 ea. Tachymeters
Kern Transit 1908

Alidade Combination ca. 1906
Kern No 243 Transit

Universal-Instrument No 243.
No 19608 was delivered in Sept.
1910 an Geodät. Kabinet des
deutsch. polytechn. Institutes
in Rostow am Don and No 20000
delivered in Sept. 1913 an
J.A. Ribeiro & Cia Lisboa für die Agrimensura Angola

Kern Invoice from March 1878

Invoice March 23rd. 1878 for two each drafting compasses.
Signed by Mr. J. Kern

Kern Invoice from May 1917

Drawing set repair invoice, collect. WWW1 restriction for domestic consumption only.

Kern Aarau DK2 enlarged

Kern Aarau D. K. 2 Construction Dr.H.Wild
This instrument evolved over the years into the famous Kern DKM3. See original instrument brochure with pictures and specifications below. Approximate year of manufacture: 1938


Original "Double-Circle"
Theodolite Synopsis 1930's

Kern DK0 ca.1940

Earliest 5" Theodolite Kern DK0

Kern DK1 ca.1940

Earliest 1" Theodolite Kern DK1

Kern DK2 1940

Earliest 1/10" Theodolite Kern DK2

Kern 403 Level

Kern Level No 403 with removable telescope
DK0 specs.

Reading of DK0 scale

DK1 specs.

Reading of DK1 scale

DK2 specifications

Reading of DK2 scale


USAF Resolving power Test Target 1951

Resolving Power Test
Target USAF 1951
Earliest Topcon 1937

Earliest Topcon Transit 1937
Kern DKM1 in Philately

Stamp featuring a Kern DKM1* with 1958 map in background,
commemorating the 1951-52 survey expedition to South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands under Duncan Carse.
First day issue: January 5th. 2007 by

Falkland Islands Philatelic Bureau.

*The Kern DKM1 depicted on this stamp is in actuality a DKM1-MIL north-seeking gyroscope version.
This 1979 design adaptation differs considerably from the original DKM1 theodolite model the explorers used on their 1951-52 surveying expedition.

Kern Lenses on the Moon

Did you know that there are four
pieces of fine Kern optics laying
around on the lunar surface?

Check this Swiss TV Video link to
assure yourself!
Kern works and expansion in 1968

Kern Swiss Headquarters at Aarau in 1968. Top center of the picture shows the new state of the art optics assembly and testing facility rising high. On the left upper corner the new Aarau team handball arena is being built.
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