Hans-Heinrich Schmid's LEXIKON

Discussion in 'Horological Books' started by zepernick, Dec 12, 2008.

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  1. zepernick

    zepernick Deceased

    Aug 8, 2004
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    Schmid's Lexikon is the standard reference to the German clock industry and became such the day it appeared.

    As the review of it posted here on the MB has slipped down the list (so to speak), and as the Search function is seldom used, I'll pull it up (below).

    Also attached is a sheet should someone want to order the volume direct from the publisher. You could email Herr Kopp, tell him you'd like a copy, and ask how much the total would be to the US, and pay by credit card (say).

    That the NAWCC gift shop doesn't carry copies is another thing (alas).


    by Hans-Heinrich Schmid

    Published 2005 by the Förderkreis lebendige Uhrenindustrie e.V., c/o Uhrenindustriemuseum Schwenningen (Bürkstrasse 39, 78054 Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany). Hardback, 7” x 10”, 675 pages, over 1000 illustrations, ISBN 3-927987-91-3. Available through Michael Kopp, Villinger Strasse 11, 78054 VS-Schwenningen, Germany; Telephone 01149 7720 31971, fax 011 49 7720 23571, info@uhrenindustriemuseum.de at €45 (approx.$57) plus postage.

    The moment Hans-Heinrich Schmid's volume was published it became the standard reference to the German clock industry, the volume you reach for first. It reflects and extends a fine tradition of horological scholarship. It is of practical use as well. It is, in short, a fundamental resource, and should be in the library of everyone interested in German clockmaking.

    Herr Schmid set out 12 years ago to provide a comprehensive reference to German industrial watch and clock making. The volume would begin with the industry's rise in the third quarter of the 19th century (Lenzkirch, the first clock factory in the Black Forest, was founded in 1851). It would cover its flourishing up to and through the turn of the century (in 1913 Junghans could advertise itself as the largest clockfactory in the world, with a daily production of 15,000 clocks). And it would follow the long autumn after the two world wars (as of 2004, revitalized A. Lange & Söhne belonged to a Swiss-South African concern).

    It's not as if there wasn't quite a lot of information already available about this industry which, at its height, supplied about three-fifths of the world's export market for clocks. Abeler's (1977) Meister der Uhrmacherkunst for example contains scores of industrial-era firms among its 14,000 entries. Many of these are described in mini-essays.

    The development of clock manufacturing is also thoroughly treated in Bender's two-volume masterpiece, Die Uhrenmacher des hohen Schwarzwaldes und Ihre Werke. The second volume (1978) contains details about many of the larger firms. L. Furtwängler Söhne is given a remarkable 31 pages, while the Winterhalder & Hofmeier clan receives 25. There are also those books like Professor Kahlert's (1986) 300 Uhrenindustrie which describe manufacturers.

    Then there are the volumes on individual firmssuch as Kochmann on Becker, Neher on Junghans, and the Lenzkircher-Uhren-Freunde on Lenzkirch. There are the pamphlets that accompany exhibitions, for instance, Lixfeld and Krämer's excellent (1989) Hamburg-Amerikanische Uhrenfabrik in Schramberg, and Ulrike Schwarz's(1994) Kuckucksuhren von Joh. B. Beha & Söhne aus Eisenbach.

    And there are the government reports, the contemporarytrade journals, the catalogues, the company publications whether in-house or out,the descriptions and catalogues from regional and international exhibitions, andthe articles in horological journals and magazines.

    However, there was not a single reference that brought together information about the some 2000 firms which manufactured watches and clocks throughout the 130 years. Furthermore, all the information needed to be integrated which had gathered since, for example, Meister der Uhrmacherkunst was compiled. Carefully going through both primary and secondary sources – Schmid lists over 180 in his bibliography – would undoubtably turn up much more.

    This massive amount of work that went into the Lexikon is realized in three sections. The first part, which covers356 pages, is an alphabetical listing of firms. A brief description following a set format is given of each. Trademarks are illustrated, trade names are listed, and what types of clocks or watches were made. Name changesand even street addresses – both sometimes with dates -- are given when available.

    I counted 2,173 entries in this first section.Yet I only counted once, and it was all too easy to be distracted by an entry, losetrack, and then miss or count one twice.

    As an example of an entry, the firm of A. Willmann& Co. of Freiburg in Silesia is convenient. It's a firm I was recently tryingto find information about for a Message Board enquiry, with little luck. As a start,the Lexikon shows six different trademarks for A. Willmann & Co. (whereas Kochmann's Trademark Index givesone).

    When and who founded the firm are specified, when it was still in business, that is was taken over by someone else, and a referenceis made to that entry, where it was located, its trademarks and names, and what it manufactured. Then there is a note for the reader that the second section of the Lexikon has a morecomplete description.

    Of the some 2,170 firms in the first section,over 300 are given fuller and more detailed descriptions in the second, which coverssome 250 pages. This is in my eyes the most extraordinary part of the . To use A. Willmann & Co. again as an example, the entries in Meister and the Trademark Index are but a dozen lines each, and mainly of concern because Willmann was reported to have been one of the Freiburg firms that merged with Gustav Becker.

    The Lexikon entry by contrast takes a full taut page. That the Regulatorfabrik Willmann was the second largestregulator factory in Freiburg/Schlesien around 1895 is noted. But mention is alsomade, for instance, of Anton Harder's arrangement with Willmann
    to make 400-day clocks. A footnote even mentionsthat the patent rights later passed to firms like Michaelis in Berlin, and A. Schatz.

    And most interestingly, although it was so reportedin the Deutsche Uhrmacher-Zeitung at the time, and since then usuallytaken as a given, evidently A. Willmann & Co. had not taken part in the 1899merger. In 1903 the owner of the firm was identified as E.R. Schlenker in Schwenningen (and a bold :???::???::???::???::???::???:to that entry). There's even an illustrationof the A. Willmann factories from a ca. 1900 advertisement. Contemporary illustrationsvisually spice the entire second section.

    The last part includes a selection of identifiedtrademarks that have neither names nor initials, shows some trademarks that are not unambiguously identified, provides a register of trade names and letter marks,and has the bibliography.

    This then is a solid work, and moreover one thatdeserves our admiration for the great amount of effort it entailed. It is also admirable as it is publishedby supporters of the Uhrenindustrie Museum in Schwennigen,a non-profit voluntary society, of which Herr Schmid is a member. It simply does not seem fair, as a result, let alone appropriate, to hunt about for some minor point to criticize.

    It is nonetheless an unfortunate fact that somereaders will not take a review seriously unless there are a few snitty bits. Sofor those who need these, a flawlette has been found. The “Ph.”of the famous firm Ph. Haas & Söhne is spelled out -- if consistently spelled -- as Phillip instead of Philipp.

    For everyone else, please go back and reread the first paragraph. It was measured and it is sincere.

    --- x ---

    D.K. Stevenson

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