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

Johann Zacherl
Died(1888-06-30)June 30, 1888
Occupationinventor, businessman
Known forZacherlin (insecticide)
Zacherl insecticide factory (Vienna, Austria) by Hugo von Wiedenfeld. 48°14′38.3″N 16°21′3.9″E / 48.243972°N 16.351083°E / 48.243972; 16.351083
Ceramic covering the facade of the Zacher insecticide factory



Johann 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 ZacherlinEdit

Advertising campaign (1900)
Advertising campaign (1910)

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 ground 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 such as 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 (including many 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 contemporary art exhibitions Position:Gegenwart held in the Jesuit's Church of Vienna.[2][11]

His son Johann 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. p. 152. Retrieved 22 November 2007. (...) 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 (2 June 2007). "Zacherlfabrik 2007" (in German). Österreichische Provinz der Gesellschaft Jesu. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
  3. ^ Sotriffer, Kristian (1996). Die Blute Der Chrysantheme. Die Zacherl, Stationen einer anderen Wiener Burgerfamilie (in German). Köln: Böhlau. ISBN 978-3-205-98503-7.
  4. ^ US patent 262530, Johann Zacherl, "Carpet-cleaning machine", issued 1882-08-08 
  5. ^ US patent 308172, Johann Zacherl, "Pyrethrum Soap", issued 1884-11-18 
  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. p. 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 (27 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. 2. New-York: Norman W. Henley. p. 424. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
  8. ^ Hamann, Brigitte (2000). Hitler's Vienna. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-514053-2.
  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 (10 May 1996). "Beim Wiener Bürgermeister in die Lehre gegangen" (in German). Berliner Zeitung. p. 53. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  11. ^ "Position:Gegenwart" (in German). Österreichische Provinz der Gesellschaft Jesu. 2 June 2007. Archived from the original on 2 June 2008. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
  12. ^ Podbrecky, Inge (2004). Viennese Jugenstil (Ed. 1 ed.). Falter. p. 112. ISBN 3-85439-339-3.

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