Wp Geschichte 3

A brand in the course of time

Ups and downs of the Weimarer Porzellan manufacture

Weimar – A meeting place for culture and history

Weimar is not only famous for its big traditions but also for many important events in world’s history.  Shaped through classicism, famous people like Goethe or Schiller and its love for design WEIMAR Porzellan soon became internationally known.

Even the great poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe appreciated the quality of the famous Weimar Porcelain when he remarked in a letter to Mrs. von Stein: ". . . The porcelain is very fine, better than what they make not far from here and yet it sells for a better price".

To this day, the well-known names of the series and porcelain decorations reflect the spirit of the period. Especially in the form of Belvedere Castle which brings to life the influence of Napoleon and the French classicism

The baroque form Katharina which emerged from the historical connection between the Weimar Ducal household and that of the Russian Czar, became particularly famous.

The popular ornament "Rose of Weimar" refers to the cultural city of Weimar Therefore the decor "Rose of Weimar" is a veiled declaration of love for the romance of the Weimar gardens.

1  Classicism

The Launching of Weimar Porzellan

Marke 100319 1790

June 8th 1790 - The manufacturer and ceramists Christian Andreas Speck asked Friedrich Graf von Hatzfeld in Blankenhain to build a porcelain factory. July 1st 1790 - the license to produce porcelain in Blankenhain was approved by Count Friedrich von Hatzfeld in Vienna. The fire-proof production site was to be built in 1780 in the shooting building which Speck had bought. The argillaceous earth necessary for producing china clay was brought from Tannroda, the quartz-feldspar sand came from Schwarza and the vicinity of Blankenhain. The mass was ground and elutriated in the factory's own mill on Seeteich.

The conditions for manufacturing porcelain were excellent and remained a constant during political upheaval. Only after the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 and after the Congress of Vienna, political stability returned. Speck was able to form an agreement with the respective magistrates in order that their porcelain production was unaffected. In 1797, Speck presented the first porcelain products at the Leipzig Fair. In the early 19th century tableware for the middle classes and typically "ordinary goods" were manufactured and by 1816, Speck employed 155 workers. In 1817 the factory nearly burned down completely and great efforts were made to press ahead with its reconstruction. Christian Andreas Speck died at the age of 69 on December 30 of that year.

2  Biedermeier

Period of instability

After the death of Christian Andreas Speck the factory is frequently changing its owner.

In 1841 Mr. Streitbarth bought the company and formed an associated venture with Mr. Kästner. Together they improved the production routines but it was a time just before the bourgeois revolution, when the economic climate for such undertakings was far from favourable. In 1847 Streitbarth and Kästner surrendered and disused the factory for the time being, before they disposed of Weimar porcelain to the family Fasolt.

3  Impressionism

The Fasolt & Eichler period

The Fasolt family from Selb arrived in Blankenhain and began by modernising the company. In 1856, after the death of Viktor Fasolt, his widow Elisabeth took over the business. In 1879, she passed the management control to her sons, Max and Karl Fasolt. Elisabeth had maintained an ambiguous relationship with the porcelain entrepreneur Edward Eichler, who was also involved in the running of the factory from 1856 onwards.

Some important events during this phase included:

  • the new Saxon rhomb trademark was introduced
  • three large new furnaces for annealing and glost were built
  • a new steam engine was purchased to operate the mill on the large factory floor.

Other innovations and measures to modernise took place during this period, which was characterized by an ever-increasing degree of mechanisation of operations. An important element was the establishment of a railway line between Blankenhain and Weimar in 1887; this provided a major advantage for the factory, which by that time had already been producing mainly large quantities of porcelain goods. So in 1879 with transport costing less and production numbers steadily increasing, sons Max and Karl Fasolt took over the running of the Company.

4  Cubism

Before World War I

Marke 10B 4C 1900

In 1900 the word "GERMANY" was added to the factory's rhomb trademark to reinforce the company's image as an exporter. During this time, the production numbers increased consistently and the factory became well renowned for producing excellent quality porcelain. The collaboration with Eichler proved to be a success and the increasing influence of the Dux Porcelain Manufacturer was also paying off. Technical experience, staff and models were exchanged and constraints on supply could be avoided.

As one would expect, both businesses suffered a setback with the outbreak of World War I; exports dropped away and employees were called to the front line.

5 1920

Weimar cobalt painting

Wp Geschichte 23

In 1917, towards the end of World War I, Hamburg businessman Ernst Carstens acquired the porcelain factory in Blankenhain from Duxer Porzellanmanufaktur AG. As soon as he took over the operation, naming it: "E. Carstens KG", he added a crown and a laurel wreath to the company trademark in order to herald in a new era.

Everything at that time was a challenge, raw materials and fuel were hard to obtain, the export markets had to be rebuilt, inflation was devastating and there were 300 workers and 20 employees on the payroll. By stylistic innovation of the supplies and a price adjustment for the benefit of the customers, the Carstens family managed to revive the export markets. The name Carstens is connected with the introduction of the famous Weimar cobalt paintings on porcelain. As early as 1926, cobalt porcelain was being produced in Blankenhain, which was probably due to the good contacts Carstens had with Bohemia. To this day this refinement of the white ceramic material is still regarded as a specialist skill. The precious festive cobalt blue gives the material a unique aura, especially when decorated with delicate ornaments in gold. Carstens followed the artistic trends of Art Nouveau and adjusted production to suit the customer's wishes. At that time, china from Weimar was known and appreciated for its style in England, Belgium, Finland, Holland, Spain, Switzerland, America and the Middle East.

In 1928, the trademark was registered Weimar Porzellan. It's worth mentioning that around this time there were recurrent strikes in the history of Weimar Porzellan. Carstens led his company in quite a strict and rigid fashion in order to stay operational during the Great Depression and the workers were the ones who paid for extremely low but necessary export prices. The longest strike in 1929 lasted for three months. After the death of Carstens, his widow and two sons ran the factory until it was passed into public ownership on 18 July 1948.

6 1950

The people's own business

As a state-owned enterprise, the company's aim was to build a highly efficient and modern production facility with resulting large investments in buildings, machinery and equipment. For example funding was made available for the following improvements: a new production hall (1962), a modern electro-cobalt furnace (1963) and the shift to conveyor belt-production in the spinning department (1963-65).

Due to the integration with fine ceramics Kahla, Blankenhain lost its independence as a porcelain factory. Besides the benefits of belonging to a large conglomerate and collective, the artistic creativity suffered. The artistic style of production was adjusted mainly to serving the tastes of the eastern export markets which meant a return to classical forms and patterns in order not to lose the foreign currency from these markets.

7  Postmodernism

The period after the reunification

In 1992, the Company Herbert Hillebrand Bauverwaltungs-Gesellschaft GmbH, based in Kerpen-Horrem, acquired the porcelain factory from the THA Erfurt and continued as "Weimar Porzellan GmbH ", being "the Hillebrand family company" until spring 1995. In April 1995 bankruptcy was filed and until June 1995 Weimar Porzellan was ran by a liquidator. In June 1995 the city of Blankenhain, together with British American Ltd. and Optima Immobilien GmbH bought shares from the bankrupt Weimar Porzellan. British American Ltd. and Optima Immobilien GmbH sold their shares during the years 1995/1996 to three leading company officers (the officers for finance, sales and production), who then held a 51% stake of the shares. The city of Blankenhain was still holding 49% of Weimar Porzellan. In 2006 Geschwister Hillebrand GmbH re-acquired Weimar Porzellan, with Kathrin Hillebrand and the 3 officers who were already in the 1995-1996 executive board becoming the Managing Directors.

In January 2007, Könitz Porzellan GmbH bought Weimar Porzellan. Managing Director and owner of the company today is Turpin Rosenthal, who represents the 6th generation of his family to be actively involved in the china industry.

8  Brand Development

The present age

Wp Logo 2016 Print Seit 2016

In 2015 Weimar celebrates its 225-years-long existence with ups and downs in its company history and is one of the oldest porcelain manufactures in Germany.

The porcelain industry is in a critical situation for years. Collapsing markets in the Middle East, political instability and the predominant „Being stingy is cool“– mentality in Western Europe make new products and communication channels necessary. Weimar Porzellan is a balancing act between tradition and modernity and takes numerous measures for modernization:

  • Restructuring of production
  • Specialization in even more sophisticated white production
  • Custom-made products for high-class brands - "handcrafted in Germany"

In addition, the classical product range is reinterpreted for the 21st century. New forms and lines reach a demanding young target Group.

Porcelain art for the 21st century

A high standard of design, shape and quality makes Weimar Porzellan successfully succeed in adapting to the taste change of the time. In the current designs, the modern design of the “Bauhaus” can be found. It was a style which Walter Gropius founded in Weimar in the 1919 years.

With high-quality decors in classical style and also by clear “Bauhaus” forms, Weimar uses porcelain signs for its lively, versatile and contrasting porcelain production. "Made in Germany" is still the top priority.

Porcelain is an expression of the "drey qualities" that Johann Friedrich Böttger, the inventor of white gold, so fascinated with porcelain. In this tradition Weimar Porzellan is one of the oldest and most beautiful brands in Europe. Weimar Porzellan is the ideal combination of traditional porcelain craftsmanship and the technical possibilities of a 21st century Company.

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