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
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
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,
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 www.jenemann.org on which you
can see a few more pictures as well the beginning of what we eventually intend to
Fig. 4: Balance by Albert Rueprecht, Vienna, partially weight-loaded using push-buttons,
While this may seem as an almost unmanageable task it is clear to us that it is worth
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
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,
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.