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Jenemann Archive Project

Jenemann Archive Project


Hans R Jenemann (1920-1996) probably has contributed more to research into the history of balances, weighing and much beyond than any other individual.

He has published extensively on the subjects of balance development, balance makers, history of weighing and others across three decades of the last century. In so doing he collected an enormous amount of information in many formats: books, catalogues, pamphlets and many other types of written information, as well as many thousand photographs – again in several formats. All of the latter he took himself, either by photographing the original item in situ, or by taking a photographic reproduction of printed material.

He was also an avid collector of antique and historic balances, especially analytical/chemical and microbalances.

Fig. 1: Balance by Josef Nemetz, Vienna. Partially weight-loaded using “carousel” and stack weights, 1894



After his death and the death of his wife in 2008 several individuals have conspired to finding homes for the material that we now call the Jenemann Archive. The balances were sold to private and company museums in part while he was still alive, and the remainder after his death.

Most of the books and other writings he collected are now at the Philipp-Matthäus-Hahn Museum in Albstadt-Onstmettingen, Germany. The Riedschule collection in the same town holds many of his balances, too.


On his death a number of projects were left unfinished, including his magnum opus, on the history of balance makers in central Europe. Some of the material he had gathered for these projects passed into the hands of a former co-conspirator, Erich Robens. With Susanne Kiefer and Shanath Jayaweera he compiled his excellent and very large volume “Balances”, published by Springer (ISBN 978-3-642-36446-4).










Fig. 2: Balance by Josef Nemetz, Vienna. Fully weight-loaded using “carousel” and stack weights, ca. 1890








What happened to the photographic material? The answer is that Erich Robens and Susanne Kiefer, who were custodians of the remainders of the Archive, passed all this on to myself and Ritzo Holtman, a fellow researcher and enthusiast from Holland.


And we have decided to bring what we were given into the 21st century by making it computer-readable.


This meant scanning of several thousand 35 mm slides, several more thousand 6 x 7 cm and 9 x 12 cm slides and negatives, as well as many hundred pages of written information that accompanied the images which let one find / identify what one is looking for.







Fig. 3: Balance by Josef Nemetz, Vienna. Fully weight-loaded, with pre-weighing attachment, ca. 1890






The large-format “slides” as one would imagine provide superb quality and definition, so much so that we thought you would like to see some – see Figures 1 to 7.



We should also add that over a period of years Ritzo had already compiled a significant amount of the published papers of Hans Jenemann, and scanned them for posterity.


We have taken the liberty of registering the domain on which you can see a few more pictures as well the beginning of what we eventually intend to achieve:


A searchable archive of images and documents, taken/written by Hans Jenemann, or connected to his researches in some way.






Fig. 4: Balance by Albert Rueprecht, Vienna, partially weight-loaded using push-buttons, ca. 1890



While this may seem as an almost unmanageable task it is clear to us that it is worth the effort:

You must appreciate that Hans Jenemann went to extraordinary lengths to acquire some of these images: He used in parts a Linhof large-format camera and much auxiliary equipment, and after some trials had more or less perfected the art of taking pictures of antique balances.

Picture the scene: The man drives from his home in Mainz (Germany) to a monastery in Kremsmünster (Austria), unloads a car-boot full of professional photographic kit, sets it all up and patiently proceeds to take pictures of the earliest known precision balances of Florenz, Krusche, Ekling, Seyss, Rueprecht and Nemetz for posterity and research.


We could not bring ourselves to let these treasures slumber unnoticed. When finished this will be the largest computerised image database of balance-related material of all times, anywhere in the known universe!


We will not make the papers themselves downloadable (to avoid copyright infringements), but indicate which we have and that we are prepared to share them with known individuals on a non-commercial basis for the purposes of research and access to detail information. Similarly we will not upload high-resolution images, but again would make them individually available to persons who have a genuine interest.




Fig. 5: Balance by Starke & Kammerer, Vienna, partially weight-loaded using rotating knobs and “digital” display, ca. 1924





In so doing we feel we perform a very useful social function: More people have walked on the moon than have been able to view this collection of pictures in their entirety before we started digitising them.

The balance collection of Hans Jenemann was dispersed after his death and is also not viewable in its entirety. If you wanted to have a look at this all it would take a lot of travelling around the world (mostly Germany actually) and trying to gain access to some storerooms at balance manufacturers and chemical institutes. So to save you all of this time our project will allow you to browse the great man’s legacy in the virtual world from your armchair.


It also should convey some sense of discovery: When I saw those pictures for the first time I knew how Carter and Lord Carnarvon must have felt when they peered into King Tut’s tomb 3000 years after it was sealed. We sincerely hope that people who eventually click through the website (once finished of course) get a similar sense of discovering a lost treasure.



Fig. 7: Balance by Moritz Meyerstein, Göttingen,

ca. 1850

  Fig. 6: Balance by Seyss, Vienna, ca. 188                                                                    




Anybody wishing to contribute with material, donations (the website is advertising-free hence the hosting costs money!) and any other support should contact us.