The company manufactured high-quality microscopes and is considered the first American microscope manufacturer. Spencer’s father, Charles Spencer, was one of the first Americans to make microscopes. In 1838 he began his first optical business producing telescopes and microscopes in Canastota, NY. At that time, the English manufactured the best microscopes. Until 1849 Charles Spencer was the only manufacturer of microscopes in the U. S. and by 1850 the Spencer microscope became well known for having the world’s finest microscope objective lenses. Upon father’s death in 1881, Spencer continued the business and eventually formed the Spencer Lens Company in Buffalo in 1895. Throughout their lives both Spencers received many public rewards and earned the complete confidence of their customers. In the late 1870s the Spencers received the Paris Exposition’s highest reward.
According to the company’s 1920 catalog, the Spencer Lens Company manufactured high-grade optical glass, photographic lenses and projection apparatus, in addition to microscopes, microtomes and microscope accessories. During WWI the company designed and manufactured a robust microscope for front-line hospitals (see picture above). During WWII the company produced microscopes, telescopes, binoculars, national instruments, gun sights, periscopes and fire control instruments for the military.
The Great Depression hit the company hard and it was purchased by the American Optical Company in 1935. The Spencer Lens Company has never left Buffalo, however. It continued operation under its own name until 1945 when it became known as the Instrument Division of American Optical Company. The company changed hands several times and today is known as Ametek Reichert Technologies, which is located on Walden Avenue in Depew.
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