Monday, 29 March 2010

The Austrian connection

Carl Kuhn, originally a citizen of Ulm, settled in Vienna and being an entrepreneur set-up a factory for the production of pen nibs in 1843.  This company was the first of its kind in Austria and became well-known for its products and the quality of its products.

In 1860, Carl Kuhn's son-in-law joined his business as an associate and the company became known as Carl Kuhn & Co.  And guess what?  The name of the son-in-law was Carl H I Brandauer who was a citizen of Wurttemberg.  Unfortunately, Carl Kuhn's son died at an early age and eventually Carl Kuhn & Co became owned by the Brandauer family.

In 1862 Mr C H I Brandauer arrived in Birmingham in order to set-up his own pen factory (now known as C Brandauer & Co Ltd) in partnership with Mr Kohler, initially for 10 years.  Land had been purchased in February 1862 on behalf of the partnership.  Mr Kohler and Mr Brandauer financed the purchase of land and of my great, great grandfather's partnership, Ash Petit, which was the start of the C Brandauer, as follows:

  • £2,500 from Mr C H Brandauer and it was acknowledged that he had already made a payment of £1,972.9.0.
  • £1,500 from Mr F W Kohler who would pay a further sum of £500 in May 1862, and once his London shop had been sold he would, within 6 months, pay a further £500 and after 12 months another £500
The C Brandauer partnership was further funded with a loan from Mr Brandauer's Father-in-law, Mr Carl Kuhn, of £5,000 repayable with interest.  This loan meant that outside credit was not necessary.  The loan would be terminated when Mr C H I Brandauer left the partnership.

A contract of sale, dated 12 February 1862, purchased a piece of land in Birmingham, with its front on New John Street No 403-410, in total 2,238 square yards, at a purchase price of 9/ per square yard.  (9 shillings is equal to 45p), which would have cost £1,007.10p in decimal money.

It was also agreed that as soon as possible, a place of business should be opened on one of the busiest streets in the City of London, near the Royal Exchange, to sell the company products and the same in Stuttgart.

In 1872, Carl Kuhn & Co was also producing pen holders as well as pen nibs and factory space in Vienna was becoming difficult.  It was therefore decided that the Viennese factory would increase its production of pen holders and supply these to Birmingham and would stop the initial stages of pen nib production.  Instead it would buy semi-finished nibs from C Brandauer in Birmingham which were then finished off in Vienna.  This method of production in Vienna lasted for 40 years until the start of WW1 when full production of pen nibs once again started.  After the war contact was resumed between the companies of Carl Kuhn and C Brandauer (no longer owned by the Brandauers) but each continued to make their own products.  I believe that the firm Carl Kuhn stopped trading in the mid 1930s.  However, I am not sure of this and hopefully will be able to find out further information on this via documents and conversations with the current Brandauers in Vienna.

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