Josef Herrmann founded his factory for plane irons and steel tools in 1843. Before that, he was a foreman at Anton Gruber for 6 years.
When Gruber died unexpectedly in 1842, Michael Holzer took over his factories in Vienna and Scheibbs in early 1843. Soon a bitter dispute between Herrmann and Holzer arose: Holzer claimed in advertisements in February, that he had been Gruber's foreman in both factories in Vienna and Scheibbs. Herrmann strongly disagrees. And there is some evidence that Josef Herrmann was telling the truth, and that he was the actual developer of the production method on which Gruber's privilege was based. Because on March 22, 1843 he received his own privilege on "steel-plated tools", left the Gruber factory, bought a hammer mill in Miesenbach (in the immediate neighbourhood) and founded his own privileged factory.
The loss of Herrmann was likely to have been a serious problem for Holzer, because only 2 months later, in May 1843, Franz Wertheim, who a year earlier had founded a steel tool factory in Rehberg near Krems and had his own privilege for "steel-plated" tools, joined Holzer as a partner . Another month later Wertheim took over the hammer mill in Scheibbs alone, Holzer remained the owner of the factory in Vienna.
Josef Hermann initially produced exclusively for Wertheim, but in July 1843 he teamed up with Wertheim's competitor Johann Weiß in Vienna. The cooperation is published in daily newspapers in full-page advertisements, in which Herrmann confirms once again that he was Gruber's only foreman in both Scheibbs and Vienna. He also points out that Gruber's tools owed their excellent reputation to his own "insightful management and practical business knowledge".
Herrmann's trademark also underlines this claim: It retains Gruber's three-pointed crown and the double-headed eagle, supplemented by its own name and the phrase "Gruber's been foreman". Here is a comparison of the two brands .
In 1845 Herrmann advertises that he has opened a defeat at S. J. Wanke in Pest (Hungary).
Josef Herrmann also exhibits at the third Vienna Trade Exhibition in 1845. In a report in the newspaper "Der Humorist" he is described as "the actual inventor of (Gruber's) laminating method" and his tools "as exquisite manufactures".
The successful privilege was extended again and again in the following years up to the maximum duration of 10 years. By 1877 Herrmann had acquired three further privileges for improvements to plane irons. The announcement of the last of these privileges in the "Wiener Zeitung" in 1871 is interesting: it is only granted on condition that the "procedure is carried out under a dome or in a hearth with a glass wall" to protect against toxic fumes.
In 1859, the first trademark protection law comes into force. Josef Herrmann was one of the first (number 26) to register his trademark. Wertheim follows only a week later.
On 31 December 1863, the company Josef Herrmann is registered as a sole proprietorship in the commercial court of St. Pölten.
Presumably a year later, in 1864, Herrmann acquired the "Ebenhammer", a hammer mill on the Ginselberg in Neustift, and thus became a direct neighbour of Franz Wertheim, whose "Gstettenhammer" stood on the other side of the road.
On the occasion of the Vienna World Exhibition in 1873, Herrmann is awarded the Golden Cross of Merit with Crown.
In 1887, son Anton Herrmann succeeds his late father as owner of the company. However, the company name "Josef Herrmann" is retained.
In 1890 a new trademark protection law comes into force, and in 1893 Anton Herrmann registers his trademark again.
In 1904 Anton Herrmann is elected to the board of the savings and loan association for Neustift-Scheibbsbach (note: forerunner of the Raiffeisenbank).
Anton Herrmann dies in December 1905, his wife Amalia succeeds him as owner of the tool factory. The registration takes place on 13 June 1906.
In 1907, daughter Anna marries Karl Wimmer, a factory owner from Neustift, and the second daughter Amalie marries Max Harrasser, an engineer from Klagenfurt, in 1909. Son Josef becomes an authorised signatory of the company in 1910.
In 1911 mother Amalie sells the company to her son Josef and her son-in-law Max Harrasser. The company becomes a general partnership and Josef's procuration is cancelled.
In the same year, Weiss & Sohn takes over the tool factory D. Flir vorm. Franz Wertheim in Neustift and from then on produced plane irons and cutting tools itself. This also means the end of the cooperation between Herrmann and Weiss & Sohn, a partnership that lasted almost 70 years. Herrmann has produced 7 million plane irons for Weiss & Sohn since 1843.
With justified pride, Josef Herrmann wrote in a letter to a customer in 1913 that the Weiss & Sohn company owed much of its success to the outstanding quality of its products.
Josef Herrmann marries Jenny (Eugenie) Schimassek, the daughter of Lieutenant Schimassek, a partner in the Neustift company Gaißmayer & Schürhagl, in May 1914.
Two months later World War I began and Josef was drafted for military service. He takes part in 2 campaigns and then, due to his technical training, becomes commander of the K.u.K. Fortress Artillery Workshop at the Krakow Fortress in Poland.
In 1917 Josef's brother-in-law Max Harrasser leaves the company and Josef becomes sole owner.
In 1922, the Josef Herrmann company sued the Federal Ministry of Trade and Industry for the cancellation of its trademark. Unfortunately, I do not know the result. (I suspect, however, that the cancellation remained in force. In my collection there is a plane iron with a completely new manufacturer's mark of the Herrmann company, which presumably replaced the old known mark after 1922).
Economically, difficult times set in for the Herrmann company after the collapse of the monarchy. In 1929, shares in the company as well as the old factory in Miesenbach and another workshop building had to be sold due to the poor economic situation. Corresponding notes on this can be found in the Scheibbs municipal archives.
Josef Herrmann begins to look into other business fields. In 1931 he applied for a patent for a soldering and welding agent, but did not have it renewed in 1933.
In the meantime, the economic difficulties increased more and more. In 1934 and 1936, the last remaining factory building, the Ebenhammer, was put up for compulsory auction.
This means that the Josef Herrmann tool factory, so rich in tradition, no longer exists.
It was not until 1938 that the building was actually sold, although no longer by Herrmann himself, but already by a bank.
Josef Herrmann himself works for the employment offices in Hainfeld and Scheibbs for a short time before setting up his own business again in 1938 as a manufacturer of soldering and welding materials.
From 1945 to 1950 he is mayor of Scheibbs.
In 1949 he again applied for a patent on soldering and welding materials.
In 1971, still active in the management of his company at the age of 83, Herrmann is honoured for his decades of membership in the Chamber of Commerce.
Josef Herrmann died on 17 October 1976.