J.W. Fecker—Amateur Telescope Maker

Henry King, The History of the Telescope, p370, 395-6: J.W. Fecker, one of the first to master the construction of the Schmidt camera. Father, Gottlieb L. Fecker worked at Warner & Swasey 1895-, (holds patent marked on W. & S. binocular). J.W. started own business in Cleveland & in 1926 took over Brashear-McDowell after death of M. First large job, 69 inch f4.3 for Perkins Observatory, Ohio Wesleyan. 1933, refigured 60 inch f5.1 mirror by Common at Harvard, made new mount, then sent to Bloemfontein in South Africa. Paraskevopoulos designed & made set of control rods to adjust figure of the primary for different inclinations of the telescope. 1937, first large Fecker telescope, 61 inch f5.1 Wyeth telescope for Harvard’s Agassiz station, Cassegrain – Newtonian, fork mount. 1940, 60 inch f5 for Warner & Swasey at Cordoba Obs., Argentina. Also designed & built the Copernican Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History. Died 1945, had started work on a 60 inch / 60 inch f2.5 Schmidt for Harvard. J.W. Fecker Inc. continued, built two 10 inch refractors, 8 inch Mak at City College, N.Y.; 24 inch for Arizona State College, Flagstaff; 38 inch Cassegrain for Butler U., Indiana. You’ll find ads for Fecker telescopes (mostly professional but also amateur) in Sky & Telescope circa 1950.

1881-1920sJohn Brashear Co.
1920s-1960sJ.W. Fecker Company
1960s-1974A division of the Kollmorgen Company?
1974-1997Contraves Goerz (name was later shortened to just Contraves)
1997-1999?Contraves Brashear Systems (a transitional name)
1999?-Brashear Systems

The John Brashear Company was established in 1881 and the Goerz Optical Company in 1905. The descendant companies of these two pioneers were purchased in 1974 by a Swiss corporation, Contraves A.G., and united to form Contraves Goerz Corporation. Its name later changed to Contraves Inc.

Today’s Contraves Brashear Systems was founded in 1997 when the Fire Control Systems and Surveillance divisions of Contraves Inc. were acquired by William E. Conway, a founding partner of the Carlyle Group. The Company operates two manufacturing facilities in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area and employs over 100 scientists, engineers, opticians and support staff. The Company operates in four diverse, but complimentary product areas:

  • Telescope Systems
  • Optical Components
  • Electro Optical Systems for Fire Control
  • Tracking and Surveillance

From the Amateur Telescope Makers (ATM) Archives