How old is my Kern & Co. AG instrument

Dating of Kern instruments is sometimes difficult because of two mainly reasons:

  • pre 1900, instruments like levels and theodolites did not have serial numbers
  • on drawing sets, they also used old items with old logos in newer sets (I have a set where they used logos from three periods ...)

So if your instrument has a serial number I might be able to tell you the approximately production date.

pre 1900:    no serial number (first registered serial number is 16615 from Jan.16. 1899)

  •     1900        17'000
  •     1910        19'500
  •     1920        23'500
  •     1930        27'500
  •     1940        30'500
  •     1950        40'000
  •     1960        73'000
  •     1970        155'000
  •     1980        220'000

If not, you might use the following overview over there company logos to date your instrument:
(based on my drawing sets and brochures)

I divide them mainly in six categories (all data are approximately since they used different logos in a single set to use up there stock):

1819 - 1885

" I. Kern à Aarau " EN SUISSE / Switzerland

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1885 - 1914

1885 wurde Kern & Co. gegründet

Auf Reisszeugsets wird meisstens Kern & Cie à AARAU, EN SUISSE verwendet

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1914 - 1926

Logos wurden etwas abgeändert

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Jakob Kern retired from business


Adolf Kern retired from the business and his son Heinrich Kern  (1857-1934) assumed management responsibility for the firm.

new name: Kern & Co.


Emil Kern retired from business


foundation of a company: Kern & Co. AG

June 1. 1920

New location: Schachen, Aarau  (1920 and 1979)


Heinrich Kern retired from business
His son Walter Kern  (*1888) was managing the firm.


The first subsidiary firm formed in the USA. Others were formed in 1972 in Canada; 1976 in Brazil and Denmark.


Peter Kern, 5th generation family member, (1921-    ) joined the board of directors.

May 13. 1988

Merged with the Wild Leitz group.


After over 170 years, the company Kern & Co. Ltd. Aarau closes


Thanks to the initiative of a group of farsighted people in 1988, a valuable collection of historical instruments and equipment, business and development files, drawing sets, production and advertising material was passed to the City Museum Schlössli in Aarau.

The "collection Kern" as the estate of a once successful, global industrial company is an important part of the history of technical and industrial culture.

After an extensive renovation of the premises of the civil defence building, close to the Schlössli Aarau, the "Kern study collection" was opened to the public.

Now they also have a website:

(click on the Logo will lead you to there site)