Fritz Hölbe (fl. 1869-1900), Holzminden.

Fritz Hölbe compass with a 'turn-about' and a telescopic leg extension.
Fritz Hölbe compass with a 'turn-about' and a telescopic leg extension.

A drawing set with a label Fritz Hölbe Mechaniker Holzminden a/d Wesel. Two compasses along with 4 attachments are missing from this set. Holzminden is a town situated on the river Wesel in southern Lower Saxony, Germany. Fritz Hölbe established his workshop in 1869, specialising in the manufacture of drawing instruments. In 1871 he had a workforce of 4 and in that year produced 140 drawing sets. He displayed at the Vienna World Exposition of 1873 [1].

 

This set features a compass with a 'turn-about' at one end, with at the other end a telescopic leg extension. This type of telescopic leg-extension seems to be based on Lebrun's compas à rallonges, patented in 1844 by Jean-Baptist Désiré Lebrun, Rue Grenetat 4, Paris.


Other similar instruments with extensions

As an all-in-one instrument tube or tubular compasses were especially popular throughout the 19th century. Their invention is attributed to Brunel, and therefore also called Brunel's Compasses. Seeing that the earliest reference we could find in Adams' Geometrical and Graphical Essays revised edition of 1823 (see Hambly page 72), the inventor is likely French civil engineer Sir Marc Isambard Brunel and not his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel born in 1806.

Ref.: W.F. Stanley's Catalogue in Catalogue of the Educational Division of the South Kensington Museum, London 1867.

Thomas Bermingham (Dublin) displayed an improved version of Lebrun's compass at the Great Exhibition in London. According to the above description it was made by Elliot (sic), probably William Elliott & Sons, (56 Strand, London) active 1850-53.

Ref.: Great Exhibition 1851, Official descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue Part II Classes V. to X. Machinery, page 303. Google Books.

 

Lebrun's 'compas à rallonges', patented in 1844.

Ref.: Bulletin de la Société d'encouragement pour l'industrie nationale, volume 43, page 379-380. Google Books.

   


NOTES / REFERENCES

 

1. Wiener Weltausstellung 1873.  Amtlicher Katalog der Ausstellung des Deutschen Reiches 1873. Google Books. 

 

2. Bulletin de la Société d'encouragement pour l'industrie nationale, volume 43, page 379-380. Google Books.

 

3. Polytechnisches Journal, Jahrgang 1844, Band 94, Nr. XCVIII. (S. 420-422). 

 

4. Recorded is a Rudolf Hölbe (not to be confused with the sculptor of the same name) a maker / retailer of drawing sets in Holzminden, possibly the son and successor to Fritz Hölbe, known to have been active from around 1904 to 1916. See: Der Praktische Maschinen-Konstrukteur und Fertigungsingenieur, Volume 37, 1904, page 219.

 

5. In the early 1950s Ecobra (drawing instrument manufacturer in Nuremberg) introduced their Ecobra-telescop compass.

 

6. Great Exhibition 1851. Official descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue Part II Classes V. to X. Machinery, page 303. Google Books.