Industrial Logos 1 – VEB Bohrmaschinenfabrik Saalfeld

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On March 15th, 1957, while working on the industrial fair in Leipzig, Rolf Keller sent a brochure “Halle 20” to his son, Svend Keller. This brochure lists the companies exhibiting in hall 20 of the fair in that year. This hall was dedicated to the East German machine tool producers organized under the organization of “WMW”, a large association of publicly owned (i.e. state owned) comanies.

In the 1957 brochure, Rolf Keller had marked those logos of exhibiting companies that he had designed or re-designed. It turns out that he was involved in the design of the logos of more than half of all those companies.

I am showing here one of the logos. Those of you who are just interested in art might not find this interesting, but some of you might have studied graphic design or might be interested in the history of industrial graphics design.

All of the logos in the book are printed in blue color. Perhaps there where guidelines based on the available printing technology, but I don’t know. Maybe the goal was to produce a common look and feel for all WMW companies.

The logo shown here belongs to a producer of “High duty drilling machines” called “VEB Bohrmaschinenfabrib Saalfeld”. There still is a machine tool industry in the town of Saalfeld, but I do not know if they are connected to that 1950s GDR-company (I am trying to find out). It might be that a company still exists that owns the rights for this logo but I was not able to find out so far.

There are other examples where the legal successors of the state owned companies from GDR times can clearly be identified and in one instance, I even found a company that is still using the logo as designed by Rolf Keller in the 1950s, without any changes, to this day (see the “Aue”-Logo in the blue cirlce here: http://www.blema.de/index.php?id=blema_de that also appears in exactly that shape in the “Halle 20” brochure of 1957, marked by Rolf Keller as his design). In other instances, the companies seem to have vanished completely after the German reunification.

One might ask the question what was the purpose of having logos for companies in a state planned economy like that of the GDR. But back in the 1950s, these machines where exported worldwide, so establishing brand names was important since machine tools where a mayor export article and thus an important source of forreign exchange for the GDR.

Such logos seem to have been one of Rolf Keller’s main sources of income. From his letters, we learn that he earned well from designing such logos. For example, in one letter from 22nd of October, 1957, he writes that he got the job of designing one logo for 2000 Mark and three for 1000 Mark each. This was much more that the average monthly income of a worker that, according to the information I could find, seems to have been in the 500 to 600 Mark range at the time.

(In case you, as an organization or individual, are the owner of the rights to this logo and you do not agree with me showing it here, please contact me. I will remove it in that case).

Animal Studies 4 – Argus Pheasant

Argus

Another animal study by Svend Keller, a drawing showing an argus pheasant.

The caption reads:

Argusfasan
Argusianus Argus L
Siam, Malakka, Sumatra
6.7.48
Naturwissensch. Sammlung

(Argus pheasant, Arusianus Argus L, Siam, Malakka, Sumatra, July 6th. 48, scientific collection).

The specimen shown here seems to be from some museum- or university collection. The name of the species refers to the giant Argos in Greek mythology who was covered with eyes on his whole body. Linnaeus obviously chose the name because of the many eye like spots used by the male bird as part of a mating display.

The drawing, made with blue ink and pastels, was drawn on a large piece of rough grey paper. Since the paper turned out not to be large enough, another stripe was attached at the side. In 1948, when Svend Keller did his apprenticeship as a graphics artist, paper was still rationed in Germany and good paper was hard to get. Some other examples of his drawing exercises from those days are also made on pieces of scrap paper, e.g. on the back sides of what seems to be test prints of some other graphics, and this paper also seems to have been some rest.

Start of School Greeting Card

1959_03_21_2

A postcard designed by Rolf Keller for Lederbogen Verlag. The text says: Best wishes for the beginning of school. This image does not show the whole postcard; I have cut off the margin (about one cm) around the picture since it had been written on.

I cannot date this card exactly. It does not show the printing license code typical of GDR printed media. The System of printing licenses had been introduce in 1951 (see https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druckgenehmigungsverfahren), so this card should be latest from 1951. A letter by Rolf Keller dated February 23rd 1959 tells us that he started working for Lederbogen in 1945  “… Lederbogen is opening their trade fair stand fort he last time. In March the have to dissolve the company, an old customer (since 45) goes down the drain that way, who brought me 6000 per year on average. Friday morning I am driving to the fair to design the Lederbogen stand.” (“… Lederbogen hält zum letztenmal seinen Messestand offen. Im März muß die Firma liquidieren, ein alter Kunde (seit 45) geht damit flöten, der durchschnittlich 6000 im Jahr einbrachte. Freitag früh fahre ich zur Messe, um den Lederbogen-Stand zu gestalten. ”) I do not know what was the reason for the liquidation oft hat company, it might have been for political reasons since many private companies in the GDR where transformed into state owned ones or integrated into larger state owned companies.

So the earliest date for the card would be 1945. However, the quality of the paper and printing is quite good and there was probably no demand for such cards directly after the war, so I think it is very unlikely that this card is from the immediate post war time. I would therefore date it to around 1950

The motive of the card, however, is older. It shows Rolf Keller’s son, Svend Keller (born in 1928), as a young boy (around 1935) in the Kellerfamily’s apartment in Chemnitz, so probably Rolf Keller used a sketch or photograph from the 1930s as a basis for this card.

Pentecost Greeting Cards

Pfingstkarte 001

While in the US, Pentecost (or Whitsun) is only a church holiday and, as a consequence, only known to Christians, in Germany, where it is called “Pfingsten”, it is a public holiday and since the following Monday (called “Pfingstmontag”) is also a holiday, even non-Christians know it. As a result, people (used to) send each other greating cards, even if the religious connection is not always there, as is the case in these examples. They obviously belong to the same style and series as the New Year greeting cards shown here, designed by Rolf Keller in 1956 for the publisher Lederbogen Verlag.

Pfingstkarte 002

I don’t know where Rolf Keller took the motives for these cards, but it was likely somewhere in the Erzgebirge mountains south of Chemnitz, where he was living.

The “Reiterhaus” in Neusalza-Spremberg

Haus1 002

Another pencil sketch by Svend Keller, from August 9th, 1948. The caption reads “Neusalza Spremberg Reiterhaus”. Neusalza Spremberg is a village just at the border between Saxony and Czechia. This is where the father of Rolf Keller’s mother Gabriele Hünlich, Friedrich Wilhelm Hünlich, came from. Her mother, Rosa Plocek, was from Czechia.

So while the year before, Svend Keller had visited Heidmühlen where the ancestors of his mother came from, one year later he visited Neusalza Spremberg on the trail of his father’s ancestors, although the family was not from this particular house.

The Reiterhaus that is shown on the sketch, is today a local museum (see http://www.reiterhaus.de/). It was built in 1670. The name refers to the depiction of a horse rider fixed to one side. This is hardly visible on the sketch but if you know where it is, by comparing it with the pictures from the museum’s web site, you can see that it is at least hinted at on the sketch. This house was built in the style of “Umgebindehaus”. In such houses, the upper part of the house rests on the pillars at the side, while the rooms downstairs are not directly connected to it. Typically there are arches at the windows in order to carry the weight of the upper part of the house. One theory why these houses are built like this is that the noise of the looms that where typically operated in these houses would not be propagated upstairs so strongly, so people could weave while other members of the family were sleeping. Another advantage seems to be that this way of building leads to a relatively stable room climate which is also thought to be advantageous for weaving. However that might be, all of the known male ancestors of Friedrich Wilhelm Hünlich (from the Hünlich and Hempel families) had actually been weavers, although he himself was a clerk at a district court.

Six Generations later, my sister Christine returned to the profession of our Saxon ancestors and became a weaver (and textile designer and textile artist) again.

 

Farmhouse in Heidmühlen

Haus1 001A pencil sketch drawn by Svend Keller on August 7th, 1947. The caption reads “Hof Hans Danker Heidmühlen” (farm Hans Danker Heidmühlen). Heidmühlen is a village in Schleswig Holstein, north of Hamburg and this is where the familie of Svend Keller’s mother Margarethe (“Grete”) Keller, née Danker, originally came from, so this is probably the farm or her ancestors. Grete Keller’s grandfather was called Hans Danker and this had probably been his house.

I don’t know if this house is still standing. It shows typical features of northern German 19th century farm houses. Similar houses can still be found in the area. Having a little garden with some fruit trees, currant and goosberry bushes, as well as some vegetables and herbs, was also quite typical.

Svend Keller, at this time, stayed with his grandmother and his aunt in Hamburg. Probably he went to Heidmühlen by bike. I don’t have any specific information on this, but one motivation for this trip might have been to try to get some additional food from the farmers since the supply situation in the years after the war was very difficult.

Zooming In and Zooming Out

nannus:

My contribution to the cooperative blog project “Journey of a photograph”. The journey will be going on now…

Originally posted on Journeyofaphotograph:

Modified_Photograph

Nerve impulses running down the spinal cord, triggering muscle cells – mitochondria pumping protons and electrons to provide the energy to move a muscle. The muscle contracts and the fingertip touches the release button, triggering a cascade of electronic signals, calculations, movements of electromechanical parts, chemical reactions inside a battery, a shutter opening, photons flashing inside and triggering chemical changes in the particles of the film. A myriad of smallest and shortest events and processes combine to produce that short “click” that indicates that a picture has been taken. The photographer looks away and her mind and eye turn on something else.

A short moment in her life. The moment she pressed the trigger of her camera. Clouds, trees or bushes, houses, the horizon, the sun. Motion blur. Lens Flair.

The photograph was shot while in motion, maybe from a train or a car. The hexagonal spots of lens flair…

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