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150 Years of Märklin >> The Beginning

The Märklin Family In 1859, when tin smith Theodor Friedrich Wilhelm Märklin (1817-1866) made his decision to start producing doll's house accessories of lacquered tinplate, you can be sure he had no idea he was founding a firm of world renown. It's possible the idea came from his second wife Caroline (1826-1893), whom he had married the same year he made his fateful decision in the royal Württemberg borough of Göppingen, where he had lived since 1840. At any rate Caroline, a disciple of political economist Friedrich List, brought great energy and a brilliant talent for organization into building up the business. Just a few years later they had to move into bigger living and working premises because of demand for their products.

The death - in an accident - of the firm's founder in 1866 was a severe blow, and only the hard work and determination of his widow kept the company from collapse. She wanted to keep the business going for her three sons and so, for twenty years, she put up with extreme hardship. Caroline remarried in 1868, but the help she had hoped for in bearing the burden never came.

Unhappily for her, the children seemed to have no interest in the toy business. It was not until after the death of his stepfather that one of the sons, Eugen Märklin (1861-1947) picked up the threads - albeit only as a side-line, since he had a well-paid job elsewhere, as had his brothers. Finally though, on 1st March 1888, he decided with his brother Karl to found an unlimited trading company, and to incorporate their parents' business in this.

The years that followed, like those that had gone, were not free from worries about the company's existence. But optimism, an inherited determination and far-sighted business sense enabled Eugen Märklin to over-come the difficult times. It has to be noted, too, that without the hard work and encouraging help of his wife, the early phase of building up the business would not have gone so successfully. It was during this time that Eugen Märklin made the astute and- in the best sense -fateful decision in 1891 to take over the Ludwig Lutz tinplate toy factory in Ellwangen, a company whose products had been prized for decades at home and abroad because of their beauty. (Gradually, because of old-fashioned production and marketing methods, Lutz had become unable to compete effectively). The era of hand-made products was over. Eugen Märklin offered the Lutz work force the chance of resettling in Göppingen and thus keeping their jobs -something which showed a sense of social responsibility which in those days was far from being a matter of course. The know-how which long-serving and experienced staff specialists brought with them was, of course, a benefit to the company. Eugen Märklin clearly recognized not only the weaknesses of Lutz production methods but also their strong points, and for his own business he found a middle road between cheap mechanical mass production with lithographic printing and costly, hand-made production by craftsmen. And that's how it stayed - give or take occasional changes in stress on certain products - until the end of the tinplate era.

1. The Beginning

2. A New Partner From Plochingen

3. "The Biggest Toy Factory in the World"

4. The "Märklin Awakening" After 1925

5. A Byword for Model Railroads

6. From Tinplate to Plastics

7. Märklin Production Today

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