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Johan Zacherl

Johan Zacherl
Munich, Germany
Vienna, Austria
Known forZacherlin (insecticide)
Occupationinventor, industrialist, manufacturer

Johan Zacherl (1814 - 30 June, 1888) was an Austrian inventor, industrialist and manufacturer. Johan Zacherl made a fortune in the late 19th century by selling dried flower heads of Chrysanthenum cinerariifolum as insecticide.



Johan Zacherl was born in Munich (Germany) in 1814 and died in Vienna (Austria) in 1888. After finishing his studies, he left Munich to visit successively Vienna, St Petersburg and Odessa down to Tiflis in the Caucasus. There, he discovered that local villagers used a natural insecticide, Pyrethrum, against vermin and began to develop its trade with Austria in 1842. This powder received different names: Lowizachek in Armenia, Bug Flower, Powder of Persia and persian insect powder. [1]

After a longer stay in Tiflis, he established in Vienna his company in 1855, the Mottenfraß-Versicherungsunternehmung Johann Zacherl, in the 19th district and started to sell the famous insect repellent Zacherlin. With the help of his skillful son Johann Evangelist Zacherl, he developed the Pyrethrum product line around the insecticide powder.

Insecticide Zacherlin


Zacherl developed an all-natural effective moth protection product made from Pyrethrum blossoms. He agreed with the chiefs of the villages to collect the flowers and to ship them to Tiflis. Zacherl then grinded the dried Pyrethrum blossoms down to powder, filled bags with the powder and inserted these for transport to Europe in sheep leathers[2]. He kept importing dried flower heads of Chrysanthenum Cinerariifolum and Chrysanthenum Coccineum directly from Tifflis, Georgia until 1870, when he started its production locally.[3] His insecticidal powder was called Zacherlin. Other products were developed like a carpet-cleaning machine "distributing over the cleansed carpet the insecticide to guard it against the attack of moth" in 1882[4], a Pyrethrum Soap [5] and a tincture for destroying insects. [6]

According to Hiscox, the insecticide was obtained as follows:[7]

The powder is obtained by brushing the dried flowers of the pellitory (pyrethrum). The leaves, too, are often used. (...) The active principle is not a volatile oil, as stated by some writers, but a rosin, which can be dissolved out from the dry flowers by means of ether. The leaves also contain this rosin but in. smaller proportions than the flowers. Tincture of pyrethrum is made by infusing the dried flowers in five times their weight of rectified spirit of wine. Diluted with water it is used as a lotion. (...) The dust resulting from the use of insect powder sometimes proves irritating to the mucous membranes of the one applying the powder. This is best avoided by the use of a spray atomizer.

From the beginning, Zacherl adopted as successful branding strategy to associate in customers' minds the Zacherlin with a cossak with high cap and an atomizer in the hand.

According to Brigitte Hamann,[8] Dr Karl Lueger, mayor of Vienna and known for his public antisemitic statements,[9] "once joked in a public meeting at Zacherlin squirts (Zacherlinspritzen in German) that one would have to invent against the Jews (Zacherlin was considered a powerful insect extermination mean)".[10] Forty years later, another insecticide, the Zyklon B, was used against civilians, primarily Jews, in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Majdanek during the Holocaust.


The insecticide factory in Döbling was designed by the architect Hugo von Wiedenfeld and constructed by Karl Mayreder in 1888-1892. Explicitly oriental in style, the polychromed brick building with pointed arches, two minarets and a dome, place this building among the brightest industrial buildings of Vienna.


After the collapse of the Zacherl company, the building has been used as carpets, furs and textiles warehouse. Today, the Zacherl factory is used for art exhibitions and symposiums, in close link with the contemprorary art exhibitions Position:Gegenwart held in the Jesuit's Church of Vienna.[2][11]

  His son Johan Evangelist Zacherl commissioned Jože Plečnik the office building Zacherlhaus in Vienna's Innere Stadt built in 1903-1905.[12] The building includes a row of atlantes along the cornice line by sculptor Franz Metzner.


  1. ^ American Institute of the City of New York (1860). Annual Report of the American Institute of the City of New York for the years 1859-60. C. van Benthuysen, 152. Retrieved on 2007-11-22. “(...) The insect destroyer has proved of great utility. (...) The powder was tried and proved to be not dangerous to human beings while it destroyed insects. It is now stated to be a species of Chamomile, the Pyrethrum roseum of Biebers and the Pyrethrum carneum, also. The powder of these obtained the name of Lowizachek in Armenia - of Bug Flower Powder of Persia. (...) 
  2. ^ a b Schörghofer, Gustav (2007-06-02). Zacherlfabrik 2007 (German). Österreichische Provinz der Gesellschaft Jesu. Retrieved on 11-15, 2007.
  3. ^ Sotriffer, Kristian (1996). Die Blute Der Chrysantheme. Die Zacherl, Stationen einer anderen Wiener Burgerfamilie (in German). Köln: Böhlau. ISBN 9783205985037. 
  4. ^ US262,530 (PDF version) (1882-08-08) Johan Zacherl Carpet-cleaning machine 
  5. ^ US308,172 (PDF version) (1884-11-18) Johan Zacherl Pyrethrum Soap 
  6. ^ Woodcroft, Bennet (1865). Chronological index of patents applied for and patents granted For the Year 1864. Holborn: Office of the commissioners of patents for inventions, 18. “(...) N°226: Johann Zacherl of Vienna and of 3 Bury Court in the City of London for an invention for an improved tincture or liquid preparation for destroying insects (27th January 1864) (...) 
  7. ^ Hiscox, Gardner Dexter (1916). Henley's Twentieth Century Forrmulas, Recipes and Processes, containing ten thousand selected household and workshop formulas, recipes, processes and moneymaking methods for the practical use of manufacturers, mechanics, housekeepers and home workers. New-York: Norman W. Henley, 424. Retrieved on 2007-11-22. 
  8. ^ Hamann, Brigitte (2000). Hitler's Vienna. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195140532. 
  9. ^ Lueger was known for his antisemitism since 1887. Decades later, austrian-born Adolf Hitler saw him as an inspiration for his own virulent hatred of anything Jewish and paid him an enthusiastic tribute in Mein Kampf. (see wikipedia article on Karl Lueger)
  10. ^ Götz, Thomas. "Beim Wiener Bürgermeister in die Lehre gegangen", Berliner Zeitung, 1996-05-10, pp. 53. Retrieved on 2007-10-19. (German) 
  11. ^ Position:Gegenwart (German). Österreichische Provinz der Gesellschaft Jesu (2007-06-02). Retrieved on 11-15, 2007.
  12. ^ Podbrecky, Inge (2004). Viennese Jugenstil, Ed. 1, Falter, 112. ISBN 3854393393. 

NAME Zacherl, Johan
SHORT DESCRIPTION inventor, industrialist, manufacturer
PLACE OF BIRTH Munich, Germany
DATE OF DEATH 1888-06-30
PLACE OF DEATH Vienna, Austria
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Johan_Zacherl". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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