Müllenbach & Thewald
The company Müllenbach & Thewald was established in 1830 by Jakob Müllenbach (* 19/10/1800, † 29/03/1876) and Wilhelm Thewald (* 31/05/1807, † 11/06/1888) in Höhr (later named Höhr-Grenzhausen) in the Westerwald area. Having married two sisters, Maria Magdalena and Catharina Friesehahn, the brothers in law joint forces to start a business dedicated to manufacture and trade clay pipes and other pottery goods the Westerwald has been famous for throughout centuries.
After 1848 M&T, as the pipes were stamped later, began manufacturing pipes from different Germany homed woods and as early as 1860 the fabrication of briar pipes started. Previously completely turned by hand, machine fabrication was taken up in 1864. Shortly after the turn of the century a workshop in nearby Vallendar specialising in briar pipes was opened. M&T didn’t make it to the top ranks in German pipe industry but was acknowledgded as a well reputated brand even though.
On 05/01/1945 Höhr was vastly destroyed by a bombing raid including the buildings of the company’s administration and the pipe workshop among other things. But as soon as 01/05/1945 the re-construction began and on 15/01/1947 the pipe factory re-started it’s production. The new and bigger facilities in Höhr-Grenzhausen led to the closure of the elder briar workshop in Vallendar. At the end of 1949 47 persons were busy in Müller & Thewald’s pipe production department, where still pipes from other woods than briar were made. As old pictures from the middle of the 1950’s show the share of women workers amounted to more than 35%.
Around 1970 M&T got into serious trouble. Especially M&T’s mainstay, the budget pipe segment, was swamped with pipes from Italy and France, who could produce cheap pipes even cheaper than German brands for they possessed the desired raw material briar in their own countries and in addition wages were substantially lower there. As well the bulk of M&T’s models was fairly old-fashioned and therefor even the better lines of the fabrication couldn’t compete with those of Oldenkott and VAUEN anymore on the most important German market.
So Müllenbach & Thewald ceased pipe production after more than 140 years in 1972. Norbert Gerharz, the last foreman of the workshop, continued as a pipemaker on his own.
Müllenbach & Thewald company today is one of Germany’s biggest firms in clay mining.
German version see Müllenbach & Thewald.de