Georg Fischer II

(15 December 1834 - 12 August 1887)

From the age of 7 to 16, Georg Fischer II lived in Schaffhausen with his grandfather, the company's founder, Johann Conrad Fischer. He went to school there, and it was his grandfather who initiated him into the art of manufacturing cast steel and steel casting and taught him how to forge the product into files. He probably attended the Polytechnical Institute in Vienna. Following his grandfather's death, he spent a short time in his father's mill in Hainfeld. In late autumn 1856, he was entrusted with running the works in Schaffhausen, which had been inoperative since the death of J.C. Fischer.

Introduction of malleable casting

In 1860, Georg Fischer II revolutionized the company's manufacturing programme. Using a technique developed by his grandfather, he began the commercial production of malleable soft cast steel ("Weichguss"). The Mühlental works had started out as a pure high-grade steel mill, where crucible steel was forged into knife blades, files, shears, punches and dies, rifle barrels, etc. With the introduction of malleable casting, though, the emphasis was now on casting. Accordingly, the name of the company was changed in 1861 to "Georg Fischer Schaffhausen, Weicheisengiesserei, Gussstahl- und Feilenfabrikation". After having managed the firm for some time, Georg Fischer II bought the company from his father Georg Fischer I in 1864. It was he who developed the Schaffhausen foundry established by his grandfather from a handicraft business into a large manufacturing plant. Starting in 1864, he was the first in Europe to use malleable casting to manufacture pipe fittings. They were superior to the traditional wrought-iron fittings in terms of both quality and price and were an immediate success. The expansion of infrastructure (gas and water utilities, sewage installations) then taking place in European cities quickly expanded the market for these fittings. They were also highly suitable for serial manufacture and thus for industrial-scale production. The range of models expanded rapidly: The first +GF+ price list offered 91 different models. By 1890 this had grown to 750 and by 1925 to 8615. The production of fittings went hand in hand with the use of a trademark by the company. The original mark, a fish shaped out of the two letters GF, developed over the years into the current logo +GF+. The two crosses represent stylized fittings.

Growth and stock market crash

In 1877, Georg Fischer II began with the production of steel casting, thus opening up a further area of manufacturing. In 1881, he announced to his clientele "that the expansion and improvement of my equipment has enabled me to supply cast steel pieces that have some weight but are simple in form and inexpensive in price." Georg Fischer II thus exploited a process that his grandfather had developed but not used commercially. However, the economic situation in the Schaffhausen region was sluggish, and no real upturn took place until the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, after which there was a boom during the Wilhelminian "Gründerjahre". This trend is also reflected in the number of people employed at the reorganized Fischer works. The obituary on Fischer related that employment had stagnated at 30 to 42 workers between 1863 and 1868 and then climbed from 67 to 210 in the years 1871-1873: "House after house was built, mill after mill, along with warehouses, canteens and workers' housing, so that the establishment has now become a small village." What had become a familiar picture in other industrialized regions of Europe now began to take shape in the Mühlental valley. However, the severe Long Depression cast a damp over the second half of Georg Fischer II's career. Following the steady growth, the crash was staggering. In 1877, the mill employed only 104 workers and clerical staff, only half as many as four years previously. Georg Fischer II died in 1887 without the company ever achieving the employment peak it had reached in 1873, the year the Vienna stock market crash precipitated the crisis.

In addition to his work in the family firm, Georg Fischer II helped set up the Schaffhausen Handelsbank and a twine factory in Flurlingen near Schaffhausen as well as the Luisenthal spinning works in Thuringia.


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