Growth of local traditions
Mining industry – arm production – art

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  At the beginning Mining industry Production as required
Transfer of Know-how History & Poetry
Technical advance Less ore then porcelain
Art and craft and School Names Relevant Links
Art and craft in Suhl

At the beginning:

The roots of engravers history in Suhl have been found in the stone age. The oldest and most reliable lanes have been left by celtic settlers 3000 years ago. They already did ore winning on an mountain called “Suhler Döllberg”. In the celtic language are expressions like “toll, toill, tul” in connection with the mining industry. It means that the ore of Suhl has been already used for celtic arms and tools. The name “Suhlaha” and “Sulaha” appeared for the first time on a list of the monastery of Fulda. The first documentary mention of Suhl was in 1318 and since 1527 the town owns the city right.

Mining industry:
Since the 14th century the mining industry of ore winning and smeltery in Suhl and environment has been documented and reported. The most famous mining industry fields were called “Döllberg”, “ Domberg” and “Ringberg”. In the 16th century the organised silver and cupper mining industry started in Goldlauter which is a village close to Suhl (Pochwerksgrund and Ramseltal). The mining industry was very successful over the years but it involved periods of heavy losses over the centuries as well. Local metals provided the arm production and there have been found activities of salt boiling as well. (In 1876 there has been found a sol source and a spa with the name “Solbad Suhl” has been opened.)

Production as required:

In 1499 armors, tanks and swords has been produced in Suhl. 16th century: First big importance of the arm production which was followed by the origin of the craft of gunsmiths in Suhl. Many gunsmiths called their craft free art. 17th century: The golden time of arm production in Suhl. There has been more and more weapons required in Europe for a military use and for hunting. The growth of production developed the trade of rifles as well. Around 1600, 200 citizens of Suhl (4000 citizens) have been worked for the arm production. The gunsmith Simon Stör from Suhl delivered 600 rifle tubes to Denmark. The good quality supported mass orders for the 30 am war (i.e. 4000 fuse muskets has been ordered from Stör again.) In 1626 there are 36 gunsmiths with 70 journeymen, 43 trainees and 33 gunsmith with 20 journeymen located in Suhl. Even the export rate increased in 1631 because more then 28.000 muskets have been delivered from Suhl. 18th century: In 1708 there are 54 rifle shops run by rifle dealers in Suhl. The second golden time of arm production was during the 7 am war (1756 – 17629). Another 25.000 arms have been produced for the Prussians.

Transfer of Know – how:
In 1535 gunsmiths from Nürnberg settled down in Suhl and they brought their knowledge to the region. Since 1555 and 1667 there are several legends of gunsmiths and engravers from Suhl. One of those tells us the story about the journey of gunsmiths, engravers and ziseleures of Suhl when they went away to improve their skills. They travelled through whole Europe to present their craft and their knowledge.

History and Poetry:
In 1780 one of the mines in Goldlauter has been visited by Johann Wolfgang Goethe. In the morning of the 7th of September he wrote: “Es geht auf Goldlauter und den Schneekopf.” In the evening he wrote: “Wir sind auf hohe Gipfel gestiegenund in die Spuren der Erde eingekrochen und möchten gar zu gern der großen formenden Hand nächste Spuren entdecken.”

Technical advance:

At the beginning of the 19th century the industry of Suhl has been one of the few who produced luxury and hunt rifles with the new fuse system, the percussion fuse. More and more arm factory started to settle down around Suhl and in the south of Thuringia. The industrialisation of the arm production supported the connection to the rail network in Suhl. As well as that the Prussian army ordered more and more weapons in Suhl. In the 20th century the gunsmiths produced weapons for the 1st and 2nd world war. But there has been more and more hunt and sport weapons required so Suhl became famous for weapons while the regime of the GDR. Most of the weapons have been produced for the export and it has been built a huge shooting sport centre in 1986 where they even organised world championships.

Less ore then porcelain:

When the ore industry started to make heavy losses, the smeltery company Schegelmilch started with the porcelain production in 1861. It is the beginning of the world famous Schlegelmilch porcelain. More and more family members founded their own factory and the local porcelain production grew to a luxury good. They produced as well dishes and electric lamps. In 1937 the last factory had to close down because of the loss of customers.

Art and craft and school:

The know–how of the elder generation has been given to the younger generation in schools since the 19th century.
1840 Foundation school of military gunsmiths
1910 German technical school of rifle industry
1992 Opening of technical state school (only fulltime school in Germany, training for gunsmiths and engravers)


Suhl, the town of mining industry, weapon and trade developed to an important craft centre over the last centuries. Some of the well known families are listed below: Family Sturm, Döll, Hörnlein, Pfeuffer, Schilling, Hoffmann, Stockmar, Klett, Seeber, Spangenberg, Kolb, Fahner, Hohnbaum, the medialleurs Steigleder, Stadelmann, Götze, von Nordheim, Freund. Important gunsmiths are Merkel, Haenel, Sauer, Simson, Meffert, Heym, Krieghoff, Greifelt, Ziegenhahn. Still existing engravers present their art. (Link to the sale gallery)

Relevant Links:

Weapon Museum Suhl
School of engravings Suhl

Art and craft in Suhl: