Paul, Ferdinand

 Instrument  maker 

    Born in Paris in  a modest family, Paul Gautier, started to work as an apprentice at the age of  13. Five years later, he was  a worker  in the Secrétan's manufacture, then,  in 1866,  he moved to the workshop of  Wilhem Eichens   to whom he succeeded   later on.
    His  instruments are closely related to the tendencies of the astronomy of the end of the XIXth century,  and are  remarkable for  the realization of  its  screws,   graduated dials and mountings of telescopes. He  provided most of the astrographs dedicated to  the  "Carte du Ciel"  (Sky Chart). The  first sample was made  to  his   own expense, in 1885. 
His expertise had no equivalent in France in this field.  Most of the large instruments that  equipped   the French observatories came out of  his  workshop. His most  important  devices included equatorial and coude  refractors,  telescopes. They were built for French,  Austrian, Greek, Dutch, Vatican, Spanish,  Algerian, Argentine, and  Brazilian  observatories.  
     His  career of honest, generous and disinterested man, ended by  a regrettable failure. He built the largest refractor ever made, for the Paris Great Exhibition  of 1900. The lenses of 49 inches (132 cm) of diameter were assembled at the end of a horizontal, long tube of more than 195 feet (62m) connected to a large siderostat. However, this realization turned out to be a financial disaster  that ruined the manufacturer, because it failed to run. After several adjustments,  the instrument could have played an important role in research, but it was  unfortunately dismounted and its components were sold.

Member of the Bureau des  Longitudes (1897).