GAGGENAU IRONWORKS (EISENWERKE GAGGENAU)
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GAGGENAU IRONWORKS (EISENWERKE GAGGENAU)
Previous airgun manufacturer located in Gaggenau, Germany circa 1879-1900. (See also Dianawerk, Gem, Haviland & Gunn and Lincoln sections in this text.) The authors and publisher wish to thank Mr. Ulrich Eichstädt for much of the following information in this section of the Blue Book of Airguns.
The Gaggenau Ironworks (Eisenwerke Gaggenau) was noted as a "very old company" in a letter dated 1680. Gaggenau is a small town near Rastatt in the middle of the German Black Forest, an area traditionally famous for gunmaking (Feinwerkbau, Dianawerk, Heckler & Koch, and Mauser). The ironworks were not very successful during the 17th century. Although they had cheap power from the nearby Murg-creek, the distance to iron ore forced them to use scrap metal as raw material. Their fortunes were changed in the mid-1800s with the addition of a new casting furnace and especially by their connection, via the Murgtal railroad, to Rastatt and the modern rail system spreading across Europe. By the end of the century, they were producing structural steel, bridges, railings, gas regulators, crushing and paint mills, enamel advertising signs, and bicycles. In 1873, Michael Flürscheim (1844-1912) purchased the works with its forty workers. Flürscheim added a joiners' shop, a tool shop, metal-plating equipment, and a wood processing division to produce rifle stocks. The staff grew to 390 in 1882 and 1,041 in 1889.
Theodor Bergmann (later famous with Louis Schmeisser as a designer of self-loading cartridge pistols) joined Flürscheim as managing partner in 1879. One year earlier Flürscheim had been granted a patent for an air pistol, and in 1879, he patented two air pistol improvements. Thus, the company’s first air pistol, sometimes known as the Bergmann Air Pistol is more properly the Flürscheim air pistol. The Flürscheim air pistol may be Germany’s oldest production air pistol. Actually, this pistol, right down to the detail of its disassembly/cocking tool, seems to be a clear copy of the Haviland and Gunn pistol patented in the USA in 1872. At that time, companies outside of the USA were more interested in local monopoly than they were worried about overseas lawsuits.
Jakob Mayer worked in the Gaggenau Ironworks before he founded Dianawerk in nearby Rastatt in 1890. It comes as no surprise that he used the same basic design for his first MGR air pistol (see Dianawerk section). Around 1905, the same design again appeared in Belgium, marked "Brevet" (French for Patent!). Possibly the same unknown maker also made the virtually identical "Dare Devil Dinkum" air pistol which later appeared on the British market based on George Gunn’s 1872 invention in far-off Ilion, New York. As noted in the Lincoln section of this book, the same design led to the Lincoln air pistols and the famous Walther LP 53.
By 1891, the "gun division" in Gaggenau produced hunting and military rifles, air rifles and air pistols, gun barrels, reloading tools, and clay-target traps. Production of airguns had become significant, especially of Gem-style air rifles. Pellets and darts were made by automatic machines at about 20,000 pellets per hour.
From 1885 to 1898, the official brand of Gaggenau was two crossed Flürscheim air pistols, usually with the letter "E" above and "G" below. Apparently, many guns made by Gaggenau were not marked, probably so that they could be sold under other trade names.
Two other Flürscheim patents for airguns are known: Patent no. 399962 covers a combination air rifle/.22 firearm apparently derived from George Gunn’s combination airgun/rimfire rifle or its derivatives, the Quackenbush Model 5 and Gem air rifles. The second patent, no. 42091 from June 5, 1887, covers a repeating air rifle with a spring-fed magazine for pointed pellets.
Production of Gaggenau airguns apparently ceased about 1900. However, some airguns bearing the Bergmann name or Th.B. may date from 1880 to as late as 1920. Today the Gaggenau company is one of the largest manufacturers of built-in kitchen appliances in Germany and sells to fifty countries on all five continents. The former question as to whether the company should be called Eisenwerke, which simply means Iron Works in German (no more descriptive than Manufacturing Works or just Factory), or Gaggenau, has been resolved by the company which calls itself Gaggenau. Refs: Atkins, AG July 1990; Hannusch, AAG Jan-May 1992.

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