PM&M / Germany / Baden-Wuerttemberg :

Zell am Harmersbach

[1] : Zeller Fayencefabrik J.A. Burger (1794 until 1846)

The origins of the factory in Zell can be traced back to October 22nd 1794, when Josef Anton Burger established an earthenware factory in that location. His products were an instant success and in 1802, the businessman Jakob Ferdinand Lenz from Lahr joined Burger as partner. Lenz was quite wealthy and had lived in England for a few years where he had gathered ideas for high-quality stoneware and fajence products. In 1805, he also convinced two other wealthy businessmen from Lahr to invest in the company. So Georg Schnitzler and David Knoderer joined as partners and the financial boost allowed the factory to expand and try out new ideas, mainly based on ideas from Burger.

By the middle of the 19th century, the demand for stoneware in Germany stagnated and shifted to porcelain more and more. When Burger retired, the other partners of the Zell factory had already adapted to the new situation and half of the capacity had been switched to porcelain production as early as 1842, using kaolin that was transported by horse and cart from the famous Limoges area in France. On short notice and not far apart from each other at first Knoderer and then Schnitzler retired, leaving the factory to Lenz.

[2] : Zeller Steingut- und Porzellanfabrik Lenz (1846 until 1867)

The business now owned by Lenz alone continued its efforts in producing porcelain and was awarded the same year as the resulting pieces were so good that the grand duke rewarded the factory with a gold medal during the festivities at Karlsruhe castle in 1846, which resulted in a business increase for the whole area.

As an interesting side note, there is a very special porcelain set on display at the local museum in Zell today: shortly before the partner Georg Schnitzler left the company, he had two special porcelain sets made: one in white/green and one in white/blue. Both were heavily gilded, laid out for sixty people and were part of the dowry for his two daughters. Both sisters eventually died and one of their sons inherited both sets and later emigrated to New York. Shortly after World War II, the white/green set came back to Germany as part of the heritage for the Schnitzler relatives in Freiburg. Günter Haiss, the former manager of the Vereinigte Zeller Fabriken heard of the heritage and convinced the family to donate the set to the local museum where it is displayed as an unique example of the porcelain tradition in Zell.

[3] : Zeller Steingut- und Porzellanfabrik C. Schaaff (1867 until 1907)

After belonging to Lenz for some time the factory was taken over by the aging businessman Carl Schaaff who started business in 1807 and was by now leaving the company in the hands of a board of directors who continued leading the company. In 1899, both this factory as well as the ⇒Steingut- und Porzellanfabrik Georg Schmider were slightly damaged by a massive fire that broke out in the middle of the town. Just as the townsfolk had managed to repair most damage another blaze in 1904 damaged both factories yet again, this time nearly forcing the directors to quit and file for bankruptcy. They managed to continue until 1907 and then finally accepted when Georg Schmider offered to take over the factory.


Image 2-01
Used between 1846 and 1867, the initials 'J.F.L.' stand for Jakob Ferdinand Lenz.

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