1880 was the Beginning of WMF, Straub and Sohn and "Ritter and Co.", merged to form 'Wurttembergische Metallwarenfabrik'.
In 1883 the glassworks were built on the Geislingen factory site to enable the company to produce its own glass inserts for tea glasses, vases and centre pieces.
In 1890 WMF tookover Galvanoplastischen Kunstanstalt (Galvanoplasty Art Institute) in Munich, the production facilities of which were moved to Geislingen in 1894 and stayed there until 1950. Their range included ornamental statues for the home, decorative objects for architecture, and replicas of works of art, particularly from the Renaissance period, and ancient archaeological finds. The most famous piece is the reproduction of the portal to the Baptistery in Florence. The "Gate of Paradise" by Lorenzo Ghiberti, which is on display at WMF's Headquarters in Geislingen.
In 1892 saw the development of a special technique for silver plating cutlery, whereby the silver is distributed in a way that, at the points of the cutlery most exposed to wear, the coating is double the thickness and is Known as "Perfect Hard Silver plating" the technique is still unique to WMF.
At the turn of the century the factory in Geislingen employed over 3,000 workers and by 1910 this number had grown to over 4,000, and WMF was the biggest company in Wurttemberg at this time. Sales catalogues were produced in twelve different languages, and they had outlets in London, Vienna and Warsaw.
In 1905 under the direction of Albert Mayer the WMF studio was steered more towards the art nouveau style, and an array of new pieces were designed and produced. In 1905 WMF bought the majority share holding of Orivit AG, in Cologne who were manufacturing products from "Orivit", a tin alloy.
In 1925 NKA was set up under the direction of Hugo Debach to establish the name of WMF amongst clients interested in artistic designs producing the special "Ikora" finish. The "Ikora" range was a specific method of treating the surface of the metal, coating layers were applied in a partly chemical and partly heated process.
In 1927 WMF gained the rights to use the special V2A steel, developed by Krupp, and launched the "Cromargan" cookware range at the Leipzig Trade Fair in 1927, and in 1930 launched the first Cromargan cutlery sets. By the end of the 1930's WMF's retail outlets grew from 24 to 150.
In 1935 the Ceramic Workshops were formed.
At the end of the war in 1945 the company began to rebuild itself using the remaining factories. As production grew so did their network of retail outlets in the USA, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Holland.
From the 1950's through to the 1960's the Geislingen factory outgrew itself employing almost 6000 workers so two new factories were built "Riedlingen" and "Hayingen".
In 2003 WMF celebrates 150 years.
DESIGNERS AT WMF.
Between 1900 and 1907 was the main period of production of art nouveau designs, some by well known designers like Albert Mayer and Peter Behrens. Albert Mayer, was the artistic director. The international and economic success saw the company grow very quickly in this period. Hugo Debach became director in 1904 and also formed the "Neue kunstgewerbliche Abteilung" (NKA) in 1925. In 1935 a ceramic studio was formed and Hugo Debach also brought in Richard Riemerschmid, Karl Wiedmann and ceramics expert Gerda Conitz to WMF. During this time Prof. Fritz August Breuhaus de Groot, Prof. and Prof. Paul Haustein were working as freelance designers for the WMF, and in the 1950s Prof. Wilhelm Wagenfeld also designed for WMF.
Researched and written by Tony Geering.