Germany / Thuringia / Lippelsdorf:
 : Porzellanmanufaktur Kuch & Co. (1877 until 1883)
During 1875, the industrial Kuch came to the Gräfenthal area. Impressed by the expanding porcelain industry in and around Gräfenthal, he established his own factory in the nearby town of Lippelsdorf and started to produce figures and decorational items. Among one of his first employees was the young Bernhard Wagner, who after a few years made his own plans of opening an own factory to produce high quality animal figures. Wagner knew the wealthy brothers Anton and Bernhard Apel who liked his ideas and introduced him to Hermann Leube who owned the Porzellanfabrik Leube & Co. in Reichmannsdorf. Interestingly enough, there are no marks known to have been used by 'Kuch & Co.'
 : Porzellanmanufaktur Wagner, Apel & Leube (1883 until 1901)
It was only a short time later that Wagner learned that Kuch actually wanted to retire and so Wagner together with the Apel brothers and Hermann Leube took over the business. The new owners started to change the product range and the factory slowly grew as business increased. Even more effort was made after it became known that the town of Lippelsdorf was supposed to connected to the railway network. Like with 'Kuch & Co.' there are no marks known that could be proven to belong to 'Wagner, Apel & Leube' and so the first marks shown here belong to the company of 'Wagner & Apel'.
 : Porzellanmanufaktur Wagner & Apel (1901 until 1948)
After Lippelsdorf received its own railway station, business in the area literally exploded and Leube left the company as his own business required his full attention. The renamed company of 'Wagner & Apel' started to sell their products across Germany and Switzerland as well as England, France, and even Scandinavia. Alas, the growing success was not coming from the animal figurines so loved by Wagner but rather from figurines based on drawings of the two popular children's book illustrators Hilla Peyk and Bertram which were sculpted by the renowned German sculptor Eugen Dotterweich. The company even marked the figurines based on Bertram drawings differently as to show the origin of design and by 1913, the company employed a workforce of 150 people which was consistent until 1937.
 : V.E.B. Porzellanfiguren Lippelsdorf (1949 until 1990)
After the founding of the German Democratic Republic in 1949, the factory was instantly nationalized as 'V.E.B. Porzellanfiguren Lippelsdorf' and belonged to the 'V.E.B. Vereinigte Zierporzellanwerke Lichte' and then 'V.E.B. Porzellanfiguren Gräfenthal' combine from 1972 onwards. The original owners as well as their children were allowed to continue working there, but only as employees. Production changed a little to more mass produced wares, but figures were still produced in large numbers.
 : Porzellanmanufaktur Wagner & Apel G.m.b.H. (1990 until ...)
Following German reunification the descendants of Bernhard Wagner, Ingeborg Seibert and Helga Koch initiated the reprivatization. On July 1st 1990 the company was back in family hands with both Ingeborg Seibert and Helga Koch as associates and Hans-Heinrich Seibert as manager.
The factory needed major refitting and renovation and with support from the regional office for historic buildings and monuments, all parts of the factory were carefully restaurated. At the same time a museum was created, not only showing the different processing steps in true surroundings but also including a multistoried coal-fired kiln, a body mill and an original steam engine from 1937. Work was completed shortly before the 125 year anniversary in the year 2002 and the love and effort the family had put into it was so impressive that the Seibert family in the year 2005 was awarded the prize for the protection and preservation of historical buildings, the 'Thüringischer Denkmalschutzpreis'.
As for products the focus at first was on decorational porcelain like Christmas decorations and gift items, but based on old molds the company started to bring back the wonderful figures that were used to be made at 'Wagner & Apel' so long ago. Eventually the company ventured as far as visiting trade fairs in Japan and Dubai.
(Picture by Cathy Wyrick)
(Picture by Ivan Golsky)
(Picture by David Leadingham)
(Picture: Fred van der Gragt)
(Picture by www.antique-salon.ru)
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