PM&M / Germany / Bavaria :

Vohenstrauß

[1] : Porzellanfabrik Johann Seltmann, Vohenstrauß (1901 until 1975)

Johann Seltmann was a land owner born 1856 in the town of Schlottenhof where he then spent many years watching his father working in his small decoration studio before following his own profession and finally moving to Waldau, completely losing interest in the business until it was roused again when his younger brother Karl Seltmann took over a factory in their home town in 1897 and named it ⇒Keramik- und Porzellanfabrik Karl Seltmann.

In 1901 Johann was approached by his youngest brother Christian Wilhelm Seltmann who at the time was the factory manager at the porcelain factory in Arzberg. Christian disliked the way he had to work there and so the brothers decided to open their own factory in 1901 with Christian as factory manager and after employing a group of specialists from Thuringia that would be able to instruct the unlearned workers, the new company started off with three kilns.

The location in Altenstadt (a part of the city of Vohenstrauß) was ideal as it not only offered cheap workers but also provided access to a railway connection that had been established between Vohenstrauß and Waidhaus. Next to being a perfect distribution method it also allowed the delivery of raw materials; at first the raw materials came from the Upper Palatinate area but it was planned to later use the better raw materials from Bohemia. Luckily the initial plans worked out fine and the facility soon became the largest source of employment for the whole area.

During the year 1909 Johann Seltmann wanted to change the business into a stock corporation and this resulted in constant discussions with his brother who believed that the business should stay in family hands. Unable to convince his brother Christian Wilhelm Seltmann finally founded the well-known factory ⇒Porzellanfabrik Christian Seltmann G.m.b.H. in the city of Weiden in 1910. The relationship between the two brothers never was the same, even if Johann Seltmann cancelled his plans and kept the business as a family-owned business.

Even after Christian left, business constantly increased and the factory employed around 500 workers in 1914; one third of the products were intended for export. By the time of its 25th anniversary, the family-owned business employed a workforce of 600 people. Sadly the anniversary could not be witnessed by the founder as Johann Seltmann died in 1921 at the age of 65, leaving the factory in the hands of his sons Robert and Christian who continued to expand business. During WWII the factory still employed over 600 people (records from 1938 and 1940), mainly producing cheap stapleware but also manufacturing items important for the war effort like insulators as well as other electro-technical items.

It should be mentioned that in 1941 the company was 'asked' to take in some partners; the company was put under state supervision and for a short time carried the company addition '⇒G.m.b.H.'; this 'partnership' was a method used to control vital companies from the inside. The buildings were critically damaged during the war and therefore the business was temporary closed directly after the war until the worst damage had been repaired. Completely in family hands again and supported by many returning former workers, the factory slowly restarted production.

In 1949 'Seltmann Vohenstrauss' already employed 556 people and one of the last modernization steps was initiated by Robert Seltmann himself shortly before he died in 1956: the replacement of the eight normal kilns by two modern gas-fired tunnel kilns. At the same time the company set up a second production line, the often underrated 'Eberthal' brand. This sub-brand had the cheaper market segments as target but in fact was not much different than the regular fully marked Seltmann products - only the decorations were sometimes a little different. The company successfully navigated through the following years until the early 1970's when business in Germany started to decline and the board of managers decided that partners were needed to ensure survival even if this would mean changing the registration form into a limited company.

[2] : Porzellanfabrik Johann Seltmann G.m.b.H., Vohenstrauß (1975 until 1993)

The change in company structure was made for an obvious reason: more and more cheaper goods from other countries swamped the market and slowly but surely threatened the German manufacturers in this sector. Around 1977 the Seltmann factory still employed around 370 to 400 workers but the situation became more and more critical in the middle of the 80s, resulting in layoffs and closures of porcelain facilities all over Germany. As we know now it was just the beginning of a permanent decline which was further sped up by German reunification. The West German manufacturers saw themselves confronted with competition they had ignored for nearly fourty years - the former East German companies with such well-known names like Wallendorf, Lichte, Scheibe-Alsbach and Sitzendorf, just to name a few.

So a declining market suddenly also had to be shared with many other companies - but to make it worse a new trend had started to sweep through reunited Germany, the so-called ⇒Ostalgie. Based on the arrangements of the reunification process, former West German facilities could only watch in silence as one by one the competitors were included in the ⇒Treuhandanstalt program, not only guaranteeing the companies an 'upgrade' in modern market politics, but also securing them a large amount of money supplied by the German state which was invested in reconstruction and modernization.

The impact not only in the porcelain business was disastrous, and the former West German companies were forced to act either by finding new partners or taking over a modernized facility, trying to increase their own potential. So in 1993, the three medium-sized West German manufacturing companies Schirnding A.G. (Schirnding), J. Kronester G.m.b.H. (Schwarzenbach) and Johann Seltmann G.m.b.H. (Vohenstrauß) merged under the name SKV-Porzellan-Union G.m.b.H. in the hope to increase their chances.

[3] : SKV-Porzellan-Union G.m.b.H., Werk Vohenstrauß (1993 until 1995)

For the facility in Vohenstrauß the merger was only a short relief as on October 27th 1995 the SKV-Porzellan-Union G.m.b.H. declared the closure of the facility for economic reasons - the decision was final. While the remaining part of the SKV was able to continue, other manufacturers were also forced to regroup and the well-known factory and 'Arzberg' trademark which belonged to the Hutschenreuther A.G. (Selb) was sold off to the Winterling A.G. (Kirchenlamitz) in 1997.

But the whole Winterling group drifted into financial problems and the SKV-Porzellan-Union G.m.b.H. made an offer to take over the Arzberg trademark and assets which was accepted in August 2000. This resulted in a name change of the group to SKV-Arzberg-Porzellan G.m.b.H. with its main office in Arzberg; three months later the whole Winterling group collapsed and had to file for bankruptcy in November 2000. The Porzellanfabrik Arzberg had been saved by the S.K.V.; ironically the amount of money spent on the deal was exactly what the S.K.V. had saved by closing the Vohenstrauß factory.

Marks

vohenstrauss-01-01
Image 1-01
Used between around 1901 and 1912 without any additions, here a red version.
(Picture by Fran Kerbs)
vohenstrauss-01-02
Image 1-02
Used between around 1901 and 1932, here with 'BAVARIA' as part of the mark.
(Picture by Mark Royse)
vohenstrauss-01-03
Image 1-03
Used between around 1901 and 1932, same as before only in red.
vohenstrauss-01-04
Image 1-04
Used between around 1901 and 1932, here with 'GERMANY' addition. Many from this mark family are smudged ...
vohenstrauss-01-05
Image 1-05
... like this example
(Picture by Hollie Toppin)
vohenstrauss-01-06
Image 1-06
Nearly same as before but note the missing 'P'.
vohenstrauss-01-07
Image 1-07
Used between around 1901 and 1932, 'GERMANY' as part of the mark and 'HAND PAINTED' addition.
(Picture by Fran Kerbs)
vohenstrauss-01-08
Image 1-08
Used between around 1901 and 1932, 'GERMANY' as part of the mark and 'HAND PAINTED' addition.
(Picture by Fran Kerbs)
vohenstrauss-01-09
Image 1-09
Used between around 1901 and 1932, the mentioned 'HAND PAINTED' addition is sometimes found as only mark.
(Picture by Fran Kerbs)
vohenstrauss-01-10
Image 1-10
Used between 1901 and 1914.
(Picture by Fran Kerbs)
vohenstrauss-01-11
Image 1-11
Used between 1901 and 1914, a near perfect example of a golden version.
vohenstrauss-01-12
Image 1-12
Used between 1911 and around 1932, here in light green, registered at the ⇒R.W.Z.R. under №·141·909 on April 3rd 1911.
vohenstrauss-01-13
Image 1-13
Used between 1911 and around 1932, some versions were stamped in a much darker green.
vohenstrauss-01-14
Image 1-14
Used between 1911 and around 1932, here in black.
(Picture by Fran Kerbs)
vohenstrauss-01-15
Image 1-15
Used between 1911 and around 1932, another example in red.
vohenstrauss-01-16
Image 1-16
Used around 1917, a hard to find version without 'BAVARIA'.
vohenstrauss-01-17
Image 1-17
Used between 1917 and 1932, registered at the ⇒R.W.Z.R. under №·218·445 on June 23rd 1917.
vohenstrauss-01-18
Image 1-18
Used between 1917 and 1932, here an example in red
vohenstrauss-01-19
Image 1-19
Used between 1917 and 1932, another example in red but this time with 'HANDPAINTED' and 'GERMANY' additions.
vohenstrauss-01-20
Image 1-20
Used between 1917 and 1932, here with an 'HEYE' distributor mark addition.
vohenstrauss-01-21
Image 1-21
Used around 1932, additional mark ⇒Wertarbeit' above 'BAYERISCHE OSTMARK' and 'HANDGEMALT'.
vohenstrauss-01-22
Image 1-22
Used around 1932, closeup of the 'WERTARBEIT' addition (note 'JSV' included in the bottom part).
vohenstrauss-01-23
Image 1-23
Used between 1933 and 1945. Initials 'J' and 'S' above 'V' and 'BAVARIA'.
vohenstrauss-01-24
Image 1-24
Used between 1935 and 1945. Crowned 'GEBRAUCHS-GESCHIRR' above 'BAYERISCHE OSTMARK' and 'BAUERN MUSTER'.
vohenstrauss-01-25
Image 1-25
Used between 1946 and 1949. 'Recycled' pre-war mark with 'MADE IN GERMANY' and the 'U.S. ZONE' addition.
(Picture by Fran Kerbs)
vohenstrauss-01-26
Image 1-26
Used between 1945 and 1949. Same as before only in gold.
vohenstrauss-01-27
Image 1-27
Used between 1949 and around 1955. This mark form was often (but not always) used when space was restricted.
vohenstrauss-01-28
Image 1-28
Used between 1949 and around 1955. Another example, this time with 'BAYREUTH' series addition.
vohenstrauss-01-29
Image 1-29
Used between 1949 and around 1955.
vohenstrauss-01-30
Image 1-30
Used between 1949 and around 1955. Same basic mark but with 'ECHT KOBALT' addition.
vohenstrauss-01-31
Image 1-31
Used between 1949 and around 1955. Same basic mark but with 'OLYMPIA' series stamp.
vohenstrauss-01-32
Image 1-32
Used between 1949 and around 1955. Same basic mark but with 'VENEZIA' series stamp.
vohenstrauss-01-33
Image 1-33
Used between 1949 and around 1955. Same basic mark but with 'W T P' and 'MAINZ' decorator/retailer addition.
vohenstrauss-01-34
Image 1-34
Used between 1949 and around 1955. 'APOMA' mark including 'HANDGEMALT - SIGISHOFEN' (misleading, it's actually from Sonthofen).
vohenstrauss-01-35
Image 1-35
Used between after 1955 with the 'MADE IN WESTERN GERMANY' addition.
(Picture by Fran Kerbs)
vohenstrauss-01-36
Image 1-36
Another example with the 'MADE IN WESTERN GERMANY' addition in a different green.
vohenstrauss-01-37
Image 1-37
Used a little later, same basic mark in gold but with simpler 'MADE IN GERMANY' addition.
vohenstrauss-01-38
Image 1-38
No date known, but the 'QUALITÄTS-PORZELLAN' addition (here in gold) was (depending on source) introduced around 1960.
vohenstrauss-01-39
Image 1-39
No date known, here with red 'QUALITÄTS-PORZELLAN' addition.
vohenstrauss-01-40
Image 1-40
No date known, same as before but with integrated 'QUALITÄTS-PORZELLAN' from around 1963.
(Picture by Monika Birkl)
vohenstrauss-01-41
Image 2-41
Introduced 1955 in a few different versions. Here the building is missing the horizontal line over the bottom six windows.
vohenstrauss-01-42
Image 2-42
Introduced 1955 in a few different versions. Here is an example of a 'complete' version, without additions. Some of these had an oval around them.
vohenstrauss-01-43
Image 2-43
Introduced 1955 in a few different versions. Here an example with 'ECHT KOBALT' addition.
vohenstrauss-01-44
Image 2-44
Introduced 1955 in a few different versions. And here is a colored version.
(Picture by Fran Kerbs)
vohenstrauss-01-45
Image 2-45
Used from around 1965, the green version.
(Picture by Janice Hingston)
vohenstrauss-01-46
Image 2-46
Used from around 1965, a dirty dark green (almost black) version.
vohenstrauss-01-47
Image 2-47
Used from around 1965, this earlier version still shows 'MADE IN WESTERN GERMANY' ...
vohenstrauss-01-48
Image 2-48
... while the later ones only stated 'MADE IN GERMANY'.
vohenstrauss-01-49
Image 2-49
No date known, text reads 'VOHENSTRAUSS' above 'i. BAYERN' (for 'in Bavaria').
(Picture by Fran Kerbs)
vohenstrauss-01-50
Image 2-50
No date known, text reads 'SELTMANN' above 'VOHENSTRAUSS'.
vohenstrauss-01-51
Image 2-51
No date known, the 'VOHENSTRAUSS' and 'JOHANN SELTMANN' describing an upwards curve on a flat back item (no space restriction).
vohenstrauss-01-52
Image 2-52
No date known, a rare and barely documented mark. This however is often found on 'cramped' bases.
vohenstrauss-01-53
Image 2-53
No exact dates known, early 1950s 'Eberthal' subbrand mark.
vohenstrauss-01-54
Image 2-54
No exact dates known, example of the most frequently found 'FINE BAVARIAN CHINA' mark.
vohenstrauss-01-55
Image 2-55
No exact dates known, another version of the previously mentioned mark.
vohenstrauss-01-56
Image 2-56
No exact dates known. Another very similar one, but this time reading 'FINE QUALITY CHINA' and having an 'ECHT KOBALT' addition.
vohenstrauss-01-57
Image 2-57
No exact dates known. Crowned 'BAVARIA' above 'EBERTHAL' and the line 'FAMOUS BAVARIAN CHINA' surrounded by a border.
vohenstrauss-01-58
Image 2-58
No exact dates known, very decorative mark mainly in gold.
vohenstrauss-01-59
Image 2-59
No dates known. Even if it was already in the mark, 'QUALITÄTS-PORZELLAN' was sometimes added again.

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