Welcome to Hobel Austria!

My name is Reinhard Pascher, I collect planes and other carpentry tools.

Not just for the showcase, especially for the workshop. My planes are not only on the shelf, they also have their place on the workbench. The sharpened chisels are next to it, or in the toolbox. And what else you need to build small or large things out of wood.

One of the central questions that a collector like me is interested in is: Who made this tool?

And it's not always easy to answer, sometimes not at all.

When I started looking for information about the Austrian manufacturers of my tools three years ago, I was amazed to find that there was hardly any information. I only found the first answers, but also new questions, on Wolfgang Jordan's great website "holzwerken.de".

I found some newspaper articles among the sources, and that reminded me of something I found in the course of an other research a few years ago: ANNO, the virtual newspaper reading room of the Austrian National Library. This online database proved to be an incredibly productive source, and it soon became clear that I had to use the information I had found to rewrite the history of Austrian tool manufacturers. The idea for this website was born.

 

After a little more than 2 years of research, I now take an anniversary as an occasion to publish my website.

200 years Johann Weiss & Sohn
Arbeiter der Fa. Johann Weiss & Sohn, in der Mitte Johann Baptist Weiss, ca. 1892 (Original aus meiner eigenen Sammlung Reinhard Pascher)

So I start the website with the portrait of the largest and most successful factory for tools for woodworkers in Austria. The period of its existence (from 1820 to approx. 1980) includes 4 emperors, 2 world wars and 2 republics. In almost every workshop in Austria (both at the time of the monarchy and after) there was a tool from Weiss & Sohn at some point. And if you find an old plane in an attic or a barn today, nearly always it's from Johann Weiss.

Also online are the portraits of the companies Franz and Anton Gruber and Josef Herrmann, both of which are closely linked to Weiss. Johann Weiss senior learned his trade from Franz Gruber, and Josef Herrman made plane irons for Weiss & Sohn for 70 years.

 

The focus at the beginning is on the history of the manufacturers, I gradually put articles about individual tools online, as well as pictures and descriptions of planes and other tools from my own collection.

Regarding the company portraits, I would like to state that they are extensive, but essentially consist only of a chronological sequence of facts supported by sources, whereby I only rely on sources to which I have personal access. So I am not saying that the history of the manufacturers I present here is already complete.

In time, I will publish more detailed articles on certain topics, such as the role of privileges at the beginning of industrialization, patent rights in general, trademark protection, factory rights, etc.

Furthermore, I plan to create a kind of timetable to represent the development of the tool industry in the context of the historical development of the Austrian Monarchy (and later the 1st and 2nd republics). Because last but not least, this is also a piece of Austrian history.

 

Since I know that the interest in the history of woodworking hand tools is much greater in England and America than in German-speaking countries, it was very important to me to design this page bilingually from the start. The translations are essentially Google translations corrected by me. I hope they come close to real English, I apologize in advance for the shortcomings that are certain to be found.

However, I was not yet able to translate the newspaper articles and reports that serve as proof of source, I simply lack the time for that.

 

Finally, I would like to point out that I am not a historian. I make no scientific claim to this work, but I try to use scientific principles to the best of my knowledge and belief, as best I can.

 

Reinhard Pascher

July 2020

 

​© 2023 Hobel Austria, Reinhard Pascher

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Josef Herrmann Fabrikzeichen 1859