Japanese External Reverse Porro Prism Binoculars. VIRTUAL MUSEUM


Prinzess Private Branded (Fata Morgana) Binoculars (No Serial Number) Fata Morgana“ Ferngläser mit der Markung „Prinzess“ (ohne Seriennummer). Jumelles «Fata Morgana» Marque de Distributeur «Prinzess» (Aucun numéro de série). «Fata Morgana» бинокли . Маркировка «Prinzess». Серийный номер не присутствует.  «Prinzess» Marcado «Fata Morgana» Prismáticos, Sin Número de Serie.

Prinzess private branded (Fata Morgana but not marked as such) 4x binoculars Origin: Cassel, Germany. No serial number. Binoculars Sourced in Germany . Collection of Mark Ohno

Same one piece Bakelite eyepiece as on the Ecker private branded Optistar documented among last Optistar binoculars produced, so very late production is suggested.

Packed in a economy paperboard case of poor quality.

While unmarked as  being “Fata Morgana”, these “Prinzess” binoculars were clearly made by the same manufacturer under the same patents. My search has not so far turned up other documented examples, so these were probably made in reasonably small quantities. The lack of a serial number, the very late pattern Bakelite eyepieces, and the cheap cardboard carry case which is actually less well made than the packing carton box for the earlier binoculars, suggests a company struggling as the German economy was engulfed by hyperinflation and the great depression. One has to remember that in the early part of Fata Morgana production in 1921, 75 German marks equaled one US dollar. By Nov 1923 it took 4.2 trillion German marks to buy one US dollar (the photos of people with wheelbarrows of German marks to buy a loaf of bread), and while this did stabilize in 1924, unemployment in Germany went from a bit over one and 1/2 million in Sept 1929, a month before the stock market crash, to 3 million unemployed a year later, and 6 million unemployed a few years later, and 30% unemployment by 1932. These times were difficult for a manufacturer of luxury goods.

Optistar Binocular Eyepiece Design & Production Evolution. Design-und Herstellungsvarianten: die Evolution des „ Otistar”- Okulars. Jumelles Optistar : Conception d'oculaire et L’évolution de la Fabrication. Optistar Prismáticos: Variaciones en la Producción de los Oculares

Optistar Vertical Knurl

One piece bakelite

eyepiece / focus assy, observed from serial numbers 38597- 43295

Optistar Cross Hatch Knurl

One piece Bakelite eyepiece / focus assy, serial no. and place in production sequence not known.

Fata Morgana Eyepiece Diameter, Design & Production Variations . Design–und Herstellungsvarianten der „Fata Morgana“-Ferngläser: Okulardurchmesser . Jumelles «Fata Morgana» Diamètre d’oculaire—Variations de Conception et de Fabrication. «Fata Morgana» Глаза щиток различия. «Fata Morgana» Prismáticos: Variaciones en la Producción de los Oculares.

“Prinzess” branded Fata Morgana, Very Late Eyepiece approx. 24mm

Fata Morgana Serial # 14133,

Eyepiece approx. 21mm 

Fata Morgana Serial # 8383, early production

Eyepiece approx. 17mm

Fata Morgana Serial # 680, earliest pattern Eyepiece approx. 17mm

1920 German Advertisement for Fata Morgana Binoculars and Optische Werke Alfred Baumann. Zeitschriftenwerbung der Optische Werke Alfred Baumann (1920). Publicité de 1920 pour des Jumelles «Fata Morgana,» Usine Optique d'Alfred Baumann. 1920 Немецкий «Fata Morgana» бинокли  реклама, оптический завод Alfred Baumann. 1920 Tyska Fata Morgana Kikare Annons: Optische Werke Alfred Baumann. «Fata Morgana»1920 Binocular Alemán Anuncio, Optische Werke Alfred Baumann. 1920 Pubblicità Tedesca per Binocoli «Fata Morgana» e Opere Ottiche Alfred Baumann.

Original Fata Morgana advertisement claimed to be from 1920, by the Optische Werke [Optical Works] Alfred Baumann & Co. Kommandit-Gesellschaft [Limited Partnership] [in] Cassel .This advertisement claims the Fata Morgan to be “as light as a feather, only 75 grams in weight” [ feather in background] and claims to be “ the best and smallest prismenglas or prism binocular for travel nd sport”. : Collection of Mark Ohno, Sourced Germany . All rights reserved.

This 1920 Baumann advertisement shows a later type focus arrangement than the 1919 pin and slot above (as observed binocular serial no 680, different than observed on binoculars, with the diopter ring with a shorter vertical knurl that seen on serial #8383.

Fata Morgana Binoculars (serial no # 28766 ). „Fata Morgana”-Fernglas (Serienummer 28766).  Jumelles «Fata Morgana» - Numéro de Série 28766. «Fata Morgana» бинокли. Серийный номер 28766). Fata   Morgana Prismáticos (Número de Serie 28766). «Fata Morgana» Prismáticos Número de Serie  (Número de Serie #28766). Binocolo «Fata Morgana» (Numeri di Serie 28766).

Mid 1920’s  Fata Morgana 4x binoculars. Origin: Kassel, Germany.

Binoculars Sourced in the UK . Collection of Mark Ohno

Text Box: Screw mark

Under the Bakelite eyepieces, late model Fata Morgana binoculars use the same pin and slot mechanism of the earliest Fata Morgana models. The eyepieces pictured above are on another late Fata Morgana binoculars serial #25804 I that I acquired from Prague in the Czech Republic, and are the same as on the Java Market Fata Morgana binoculars sold by Dutch East Indies dealer Ludwig B ü nger serial # 35117.

Text Box: Screw

Silver Color Fata Morgana 4x Binoculars (serial number #10539) with Circle Pattern Decoration. „Fata Morgana”- Fernglas(4x), Aluminium , Silberfarben mit Kreisdekor (Seriennummer 10539). Jumelles «Fata Morgana» (En Aluminum) Motif Circulaire, Numéro de Série 10539. Серебристый цвет Fata Morgana бинокль с круглой оформление. Серийный номер 10539. Fata Morgana 4x Verrekijker Met  Cirkelpatroon Met Behuizing #10539.  Color Plata 4x Prismáticos Fata Morgan 4x Verrekijker Met  Cirkelpatroon Met Behuizing #10539. (Número de Serie # 10539) con Patrón de Círculo Decoración. Color Plata Fata Morgana Prismáticos 4x Número de Serie x con Patrón de Círculo Documentación. Colore Argento «Fata Morgana» 4x Binocolo (Numero di Serie 10539) con Decorazione Circolare.

Fata Morgana 4x binoculars, silver (aluminum) with circle pattern embossing, serial # 10539. Origin: Cassel, Germany. Binoculars Sourced in Holland. Collection of Nico Westphal, Netherlands Photos courtesy Ted Brink, Photos© Ted Brink

Fairly early production (serial no 10539) silver (unpainted aluminum?) Fata Morgana binoculars  with a “circle pattern” embossed design. Pending possible future discoveries: this the only known example of a silver color Fata Morgana with this circle pattern embossing.  Frühe Silber-Fata Morgana-Ferngläser der Produktion (Seriennummer 10539). Diese haben eine Kreismusterdekoration. Diese sind das einzige bekannte Beispiel. Jumelles Fata Morgana numéro de série 10539 (en aluminum ?) embouti avec un motif circulaire. En attendant des  découvertes futures possibles : ceci est le seul exemple gris metallique avec le motif circulaire qui est connu. Достаточно рано производства (серийный номер 10539) silver ( к неокрашенной алюминиевые? 12 бинокль с "круг" рельефным дизайном.

Einige Beispiele für braune bzw. schwarze Köcher und Etuis. Ich habe vor, mich mit diesem. Thema weiter auseinanderzusetzen. Sollten Sie ein „Fata Morgana“-bzw. „Optistar“- Fernglas mit Originalköcher oder-etui besitzen, senden Sie mir bitte ein entsprechendes Foto mit Angabe der Seriennummer des Glases! Les jumelles Fata Morgana ont ete vendues avec une grande variete d’etui. Pouvez –vous accorder l’etui avec les jumelles Fata Morgana qui lui correspondent? Veuillez m’envoyer un email. Dites-moi le modele de l’etui et le numero de série des jumelles.

Examining the Fata Morgana Binocular Case Designs. „Fata Morgana“-Ferngläser: Köcher und Etuis. Propos des Etuis pour les Jumelles «Fata Morgana». Различные «Fata Morgana» бинокли случаях. Examen de la «Fata Morgana» Prismáticos Diseños de Casos. Disegni do Casi per Binocolo «Fata Morgana».

The Fata Morgana binoculars are observed to have had quite a variety of cases, presumably manufactured by vendors already making cases for opera glasses and binoculars. When I am able to gather more information, I will endeavor in future to associate Fata Morgana case patterns with Fata Morgana binocular serial numbers. Unfortunately the vast majority of Fata Morgana binoculars encountered have lost their cases in the 90 years or so since they were new. If you can associate a Fata Morgana case with a particular binocular, please let me know the case type and the serial number of that binocular (at miniature.binoculars@gmail.com)

Rectangular pattern Fata Morgana cases with slide latch. This pattern of case has been observed for serial numbers between 10539 and 35,117. Apparently available throughout much of the production period, and partly because of the mirror in the case lid as well as the  case design and velour colors, I believe these were intended to be sold as a woman’s model. 

Very late pattern of low quality paperboard case associated with the non-serial numbered Prinzess branded Fata Morgana binocular. Collection of Mark Ohno

Destroyed Information About Binoculars? Informationen zur Geschichte der Ferngläser im 2.WK Zerstört? Renseignements Inedits sur les Jumelles? Verwoest Binoculaire Informatie ? Информация о бинокль было уничтожено. Información Sobre Prismáticos Destruido por las Bombas? Distrutto le Informazioni sul Binocolo.

Why the dearth of information about the 1920’s activities of Alfred Baumann, The Optische Werk Alfred Baumann, and August F ϋ llgrabe? Well, during WWII Kassel was home of Henschel und Sohn, who produced the Tiger tank. It was also the home of the Gerhard Fieseler Werke, which produced the Messerschmitt BF109, Focke Wulf FW190, the Storch, V-1 rocket and many other military aircraft (mostly under license). Kassel was bombed repeatedly in WWII. In particular, during the RAF raid of Oct. 22-23 in 1943, 569 bombers dropped 460,000 incendiary stick bombs, killed 10,000 residents, and the city center of Kassel burned for 7 days. Renowned binocular expert and author Dr Hans Seeger contacted the Kassel Chamber of Commerce about researching pre-war binocular production and manufacturers and was told most of the commercial records were destroyed during the war.

Watching Kassel burn, probably in October 1943.

Blick auf des brennende Kassel (vermutlich Oktober 1943).

Köning Straße, Kassel, in 1945, 2.4 miles from Baumann’s address in Kölnische Straße Köningstraße Kassel ( 1945), ca. 4 km von Baumanns alter  Adresse, Kölnische Straße 4. Rue Köning , Kassel, en 1945, 1 kilomètresde l'adresse de Baumann dans Rue Kölnische 4

Kölnische Straße 4, Baumann’s address 93 years later, with post war buildings. Die Adresse Kölnische Straße 4 heute. Rue Kölnische 4 aujourd'hui

Ruins of the bombed out Fieseler plants around Kassel. Zerbombtes Fabrikgebäude der Fa. Fieseler, in der Nähe von Kassel.Ruines bombardées des usines de Fieseler près de Kassel.

Fata Morgana # 10539

Found in Holland

Photo Ted Brink

Collection Nico Westphal

Fata Morgana# 20950, found in Germany. Collection & photo G ϋ nter Kampf

Fata Morgana # 14441, smooth finish leather, slide latch, Found in the USA. collection of Mark Ohno

Fata Morgana # 17360, Faux alligator leather, slide latch. Found in the UK. Collection of Mark Ohno

Fata Morgana # 11019

Fata Morgana # 15504

Photos & collection of Nico Westphal, Netherlands

Warum ist der Informationstand zu den Aktivitäten von Alfred Baumann, seiner Firma „Optische Werk Alfred Baumann” und von August F ϋ llgrabe in den 1920er Jahren so dürftig? Ein Grund könnte sein, dass Kassel im 2.WK der Standort der Fa. Henschel & Sohn war, die den deutschen  „Tiger”-Panzer herstellte. In Kassel waren außerdem die Gerhard-Fieseler-Werke-ansässig, die zahlreiche Militärflugzeuge und auch Raketen produzierte (die meisten unter Lizenz) z. B. die  Messerschmitt FW 190, die Focke- Wulf FW190, die Fieseler Fi-156 Storch, und die V1- Rakete. Kassel wurde im 2. WK mehrfach bombardiert, so wurden z. B. allein beim Luftangriff der britischen RAF am 22./23 Oktober 1943 durch insgesamt 569 Bomber 460,000 Brandbomben auf die Stadt abgeworfen. Durch den Angriff kamen 10,000 Einwohner von Kassel ums Leben, das Stadtzentrum brannte 7 Tage lang. Der bekannte Fernglasexperte und Autor Dr. Hans Seeger nahm im Zuge seiner Recherchen über die Vorkriegsproduktion von Ferngläsern Kontakt mit der Kasseler Industrie-und Handelskammer auf Er erhielt die Auskunft, die meisten Geschäftsunterlagen seien während des 2.WK zerstört worden.

Early Fata Morgana Binoculars with Pin and Slot Focus, in Black (serial # 6075 & 6322) Frühes „Fata Morgana“-Fernglas (Seriennummer 6075,6322) mit Schiebeknopf Führungsschliz Fokussiermechanismus. Ancienne Fabrication des Jumelles «Fata Morgana» Noires, Numéro de Série 6075,6322.  начале «Fata Morgana» бинокль с помощью штифта и паз механизма. Серийный номер 6075,6322. Primera producción «Fata Morgana» Prismáticos, con el Pasador y la Ranura Mecanismo de Enfoque, el Número de Serie 6075 y 6322. Binocolo «Fata Morgana» in Anticipo con Pin e Messa a Fuoco, Ib Nero (Numero di Seie 6075 e 6322)

Ca 1920 or 1921 Fata Morgana 4x binoculars

# 6322, Origin: Cassel, Germany.

Binoculars Sourced in USA Collection of Mark Ohno

Subject to probable future discoveries, these 2 pairs of early Fata Morgana binoculars serial numbers 6075 & 6322 have some features not documented on other black Fata Morgana binoculars. They have the early pin and slot focus mechanism, documented in the 1919 advertisement, extending the documented production range of this feature to be from the silver Fata Morgana binoculars serial number 680 to this black binocular serial number 6322. Both these binoculars also have both the “Fata Morgana” and the “ABC” markings on the left hand prism cover, not observed on other Fata Morgana binoculars. As obtained, both binoculars were missing prisms and/or prism covers.

1919 advertisement

Analyzing ABC Logo . Zur Herkunft des „ ABC“-Logos. Étude du Logo d'«ABC». Анализ логотип «ABC». Analizando el Logotipo «ABC». Analizzando il Logo «ABC».

Long a source of speculation, after the revealing of the patent information for these binoculars, enthusiasts of Fata Morgana binoculars now believe that the “ABC” of these binoculars almost certainly represents the inventor’s name: A lfred B aumann, and where he resided: C asse l.

Sammler von «Fata Morgana» Glauben nun, dass die ABC – Markierung den Erfinder A l fred B aumann ab und die Lage von C assel.

Les amateurs des jumelles croient que le logo d' ABC représente l'inventeur A lf red B aumann et sa ville C assel.

The logo surround has been likened to a castle turret. Kassel is known for Castle Löwenburg, a fantasy castle built in the late 1700s. It also has been likened to a chess piece. And I think it also looks like a binocular eyepiece.

Die Darstellung der Schachfigur „Turm“? Oder eines mittelalterlichen Burgturms (evtl. Teil der Fantasieburg Löwenburg, in Kassel Wilhelmshöhe)?Oder doch das Abbid eines Fernglas-Okulars? Inspiré par le pion d'échecs , une tourelle d’un château médiéval ? (Voyez le  château de Löwenburg de Kassel). Ou l’oculaire des jumelles.


Pourquoi la pénurie des renseignments sur Alfred Baumann, l'Optische Werk Alfred Baumann, et August F ϋ llgrabe ? Pendant la deuxième grande gûerre mondiale Kassel était le siège de Henschel und Sohn, , qui ont fait le char de combat „Tigre“. La ville etait aussi le siege du Gerhard Fieseler Werke, qui a fait produit les forces aériennes de combat. Kassel etait bombardé à plusieurs reprises. Pendant l'incursion de RAF des 22-23 octobre en 1943, 569 bombardiers ont laissé tomber 460.000 bombes incendiaires de bâton, 10.000 residents antété tués, et le centre ville a brûlé pendant 7 jours. Dr Hans Seeger expert et auteur binoculaire renommé a entré en contact avec la chambre de commerce de Kassel au sujet de ses rećherches. On lui a dit la que la plupart des archives commerciales ont été détruites pendant la guerre.

“Almost enough reichsmarks for an accessory neck cord for my binoculars in1923”

Gerade genug, Reichsmark für Zubehör Halsschnur für mein Fernglas .1923

Late Fata Morgana binoculars serial #25,573 with case.

Photo:  Ken in the UK

Les origines de l'Allemand jumelles miniatures

Истоки немецкий миниатюрный бинокль

Los orígenes del alemán prismáticos en miniatura



Additional Advertisements: Fata Morgana Binoculars . Weitere Werbematerialien für „Fata Morgana“- Ferngläser. Annonces Supplémentaires: «Fata Morgana» Jumelles. Дополнительные рекламные объявления: «Fata Morgana» бинокль. 追加 のアドバタイズメント: «Fata Morgana» 双眼鏡 . Ytterligare annonser: Fata Morgana kikare. Nuevos anuncios: «Fata Morgana» Prismáticos. Annunci Aggiuntivi di Binocolo «Fata Morgana»

The George Mayerle Optical Co., the US importer/distributor of the Fata Morgana binoculars, ran this advertisement in the Optical Journal and Review of Optometry Vol 50 July 13, 1922. Note the mention of expected protective tariffs in the future. This did occur several months later when president Warren Harding signed the Fordney-Mcumber Tariff bill in Sept 1922, which effectively raised the American ad valorem (VAT) tariff to 38.5 % on dutiable imported goods. Also note the retail price of $25. According to the US Department of labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, $25 in 1922 is the equivalent of $351 in 2014. Note that a mere three or four years after the end of WWI, Mayerle felt it was prudent to advertise the German Fata Morgana binoculars as being “Europe’s Wonder Glass” without revealing that they were German. Also note that the later Mayerle ads no longer mentioned the Fata Morgana trademarked name, as Mayerle did in the 1921 picture ad and the early 1922 print ads; alternately calling them “binoculettes”, a term they patented.

The George Mayerle Optical Co., the US importer & distributor of the Fata Morgana binoculars, ran this advertisement in the Jewelers Circular on Oct 26, 1921. Note the distribution plan of one exclusive agent per state.

The George Mayerle Optical Co., US importer/distributor of the Fata Morgana binoculars, ran the ad at left or the ad below in 1922 in the Popular Mechanics Magazine in the Feb., Mar, Apr., May, June, July, Aug., Sept., and Oct. issues. Note that the exclusive agents plan of 1921 may have been  scrapped or modified by that time, and note the wholesale price of $12.50. According to the US Department of labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, that wholesale price of $12.50 in 1922 is the equivalent of $175 in 2014.

Nearly 90 years old but hardly used. It is quite unusual to encounter any binoculars this old in nearly new condition, as these Fata Morgana binoculars are. Late production Fata Morgana binoculars used one piece Bakelite eyepieces that rotate to focus the binoculars, fastened to the ocular with three set screws.

Castle Löwenburg, Kassel

Latest known Fata Morgana binoculars serial # 35,117 with case. Collection Mark Ohno. Sold  by dealer Ludwig B ü nger in Bandoeng, Java, Dutch East Indies.

Ca 1920 or 1921 Fata Morgana 4x binoculars

# 6075, Origin: Cassel, Germany.

Binoculars Sourced in USA Collection of Mark Ohno


Late Fata Morgana binoculars serial #25,419 with case.

Collection & photo Per Corell, Denmark


Fata Morgana Gilded Binoculars . Original Set with Box. Fata Morgana-Gold überzogen Ferngläser : Komplettes Original-Set mit Karton. Coffret des Jumelles Dorées «Fata Morgana». Fata Morgana Позолоченные Бинокль : полный комплект комплект с коробкой. «Fata Morgana» ゴールドメッキ双眼鏡:カートンとの完全なオリジナルセット . Fata Morgana Guldpläterad Kikare : Komplett Original set med Carton. Oro «Fata Morgana» Plateado Prismáticos: Juego Completo Original con Cartón. Binocolo Dorato «Fata Morgana» .

Fata Morgana Binoculars serial no 24447 with pasteboard box. Collection of Mark Ohno. Sourced in Latvia („Fata Morgana“ fernglas mit originalkarton)

When you bought “A.B.C.” “Fata Morgana” 4x prism binoculars in the mid 1920’s, “the Universal Binoculars for Theater, Sport, and Travel”, in this deluxe gilded brass configuration”, this is what you received. With it’s golden cord and red leather purse shaped carry case with velvet strap, this particular model was obviously designed to appeal to female purchasers. Subject to possible future discoveries, this is the only complete surviving original set including carton of this type publically known. The velveteen ribbon strap of this case is particularly flimsy, and would not have held up to much use, and I suspect that when men had these binoculars they probably quickly discarded the red case as being overtly feminine. These factors may be why the gilded Fata Morana binoculars are never found with their cord or case.

Gilded Fata Morgana # 24447, red leather case latch. Found in Latvia. Collection of Mark Ohno

German children stacking bundles of reichsmarks to use as toy building blocks,  1923. Kinder, ​​der Reichsmark als Spielzeug Bausteine ​​im Jahr 1923 .

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