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Chronicle of the company "L. Keßler & Sohn" in Bernburg (Saale)


The founder

After his successful apprenticeship- and journeyman´s years of travel, taking him thru Saxony to Praha, Brünn, Preßburg, Ofen and Vienna, the young tin-founder master Ludwig Keßler coming  from Köthen established a tin foundry March 3rd 1830 in Bernburg in the old Ritterstrasse, today Breite Straße, next to the inn „Zum Schwarzen Adler“.

Ludwig Keßler descended from an old tin founder-family, which originally came from Switzerland and live in Middle Germany since 1700. Also the Calmus, ancestors of his mother were tin founders. He was 26 years old when he became self supporting and married in Bernburg.

He began with a small craft site and fabricated tin dishes, tin spoons and beer mugs, spray nozzle of all kinds, hot-water bottles, communion- and baptizing-cans, buttons and tin soldiers (which were artistically carved in slate forms and moulded).


                            Picture by Christine Keßler von Sprengseysen

A complete workshop of apprentices was engaged in coloring tin figures. Even the Keßler-boys (Ludwig Keßler had 5 sons and 1 daughter) had to help diligently and when their play mates came over from the old market: the „Sheet metal-Sommers” and the children from the Jew Spanier, it was announced most of the time: “today our boys have to color tin figures, come back tomorrow again!” With untiring eagerness the business flourished.


Before 1840 Ludwig Keßler bought his own house, Fährgasse Nr. 8 close to the river Saale.
Every Christmas a plentiful toy exhibition was organized.


2nd Generation

October 1st 1854 Ludwig Keßler announced the partnership of his oldest son Albert. Thus with the new name „L. Keßler & Sohn“ the firm made the promising step into the future and into the 2nd generation. At the time Albert Keßler was 23 years old; he had learned to be a tin founder and had been in England getting acquainted with the patent for tin sheathing pipes. Later he received the title Geheimer Kommerzienrat(until 1919 highest state title granted to businessmen, entrepreneurs and bankers); in 1864 elected as municipal council and 1867 leading founder of the Bernburger Konsum-Verein (consumer co-operative); 1873 city council; 1878/88 member of the federal parliament and 1887 member of the district assemble. Furthermore he was council of the parish St. Aegidien.

Around 1866 the second son Louis joined the firm, after having already made a small fortune with the sugar production in Paschleben; Louis was businessman.

1868 followed the third son Theodor Keßler after a wide ranging training as tin founder in Southern Germany, Metz, Paris and Copenhagen. He began as foreman in the production.


In 1906 Theodor was entitled Geheimer Kommerzienrat and member of the trade chamber in Dessau. He was Knight I. class and holder of the Anhaltischen Bärenordens (order of the state Anhalt). Theodor Keßler was now exclusive owner. He advanced from the ranks and worked on a lead press if necessary, he was nobody’s fool.


The biography of the last owner Artur Keßler jun is closely connected with the history of the firm „L.Keßler&Sohn“ and therefore documented at this point.


In 1989 Soviet-Russia collapsed in economic chaos and opened the Iron Curtain. In East-Germany people demonstrated against the tyranny and stormed the wall to the West. November 9th 1989 Germany was reunited.
1990 followed the call to register the expropriated property in the East. I became the speaker of the family. Exactly 40 years after my escape I walked into Bernburg and our plant again.


Mami was also able to see the family farm in Bernbruch and visit her place of birth Nitzschka near Leipzig. We had never dreamt about that.
Everything familiar was ruined by mismanagement and dilapidated. We could not make use of it anymore and were to receive compensation.
We got new contacts very fast, but also a lot of paperwork – coming into age again a task, which perhaps will be rewarded some day. ….
So the circle is gradually closes; bringing to my mind the poetry by Goethe:

„Ihr glücklichen Augen, was je ihr gesehen
Es sei was es wolle, es war doch schön“

(You blissful eyes, whatever you have seen, be it as it may, it was still good)

Fabrik Fabrik
Fabrik Fabrik
Fabrik Fabrik

5 pictures: Dr. Hans-Werner Müller, Bernburg


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