The Fauler Hammer Mill in Falkensteig, 1904
About the object
The painting depicts a normal workday in a hammer forge: the molten iron shines bright yellow upon which the hydraulic hammer is falling. Two men are fashioning the molten metal on the anvil with hammers and sheer physical strength, while another worker is heating pieces of metal in the smith’s hearth.
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In the Fauler’sches Hammerwerk, men pound the glowing metal. The large forge employed up to 400 employees and was closed down in 1872. The construction of the railways and the continually improving road network meant that cheaper iron could be imported into the Black Forest from the north. Many factories in the region were closed down for this reason. CAROLA FREUND In this painting Fritz Kohlund offers a view of the hammer mill in Falkensteig. In the center of the picture, a worker holds a large, glowing piece of iron on an anvil; another stands by with a stick, ready to move the iron back into place if it slips. A powerful hammer strikes the anvil, driven by a water-powered flywheel in the background; next to it on the left is the generator that transmits the water power to the flywheel. On the right side of the painting is a blacksmith’s forge (a furnace with chimney and air supply), where a standing man holds iron in the fire, preparing it to be worked. A fourth man on the left watches the activity, while in the foreground large and small pieces of iron and various blacksmith’s tools lie on the floor of the hammer mill. In his work Das Großherzogthum Baden, historischgeographisch-statistisch-topographisch beschrieben (The Grand Duchy of Baden Described Historically-Geographically-Statistically-Topographically) of 1857, Adam Ignaz Valentin Heunisch (1768-1863), a ministry official of the Grand Duchy of Baden, wrote: “[…] the princely Fürstenberg hammer mill possesses a refining forge, two small-scale furnaces, and a sheet mill. It produces 2500 centners of bar iron and 5-600 centners of plate production.”1 Hammer mills were widespread in the Black Forest and offered secure employment not only for blacksmiths, but for many other people as well. The hammer mill depicted here was run by the Fauler Brothers. It was formerly known as the Obere Blechschmiede (Upper Plate Smithy), before it became the Faulersches Eisenwerk (Fauler Iron Works) in Falkensteig. It consisted of a hammer mill and a rolling mill, and later an iron foundry was added as well. With the construction of railways and the ever improving network of roads, however, cheap iron from the north was imported into the Black Forest, leading to the closing of the numerous local hammer mills. The Fauler hammer mill in Falkensteig was shut down in 1872, even though it had employed up to 400 workers. Most of the building was later torn down. KATHRIN FISCHER (Transl. MELISSA THORSON)