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Who was Ludwig von Hartmann?

With the acquisition of the Meebold factory in 1818, Ludwig Hartmann laid the foundation for the later dressing material factory. His Ludwig Hartmann company quickly became one of the largest cotton mills in the country.

Industrial pioneer in the Kingdom of Württemberg

Ludwig von Hartmann was born in Stuttgart in 1766. After commercial training in Amsterdam he became Managing Director of the Sulz-based company Meebold, Schüle and Co in 1791. The company moved to Heidenheim in 1802 where a subsidiary plant had been in operation since 1774.

During his travels abroad Ludwig von Hartmann gained valuable knowledge about modern spinning techniques and machines which he applied in his company. In 1812 he established one of the first mechanical cotton mills in the Kingdom of Württemberg, venturing a move into the industrial age.

Ludwig von Hartmann was one of the most important industrial pioneers in the Kingdom of Württemberg at that time. In 1801 he was appointed Commercial Councilor and in 1833 was granted a personal title of nobility and the Württemberg Order of the Crown by King Wilhelm I.

His economic policy was also shaped by the political realities of his time. After Napoleon 's Continental Blockade banning British imports to continental Europe had been lifted (1806), sales of domestic textile products declined. The textile plants in Württemberg increasingly suffered from the competition of British companies that were able to produce much more efficiently, faster, and more cost-effectively. The situation in 1816/1817 was aggravated by bad harvests that reduced the buying power of people. Many companies were forced to close.

“Caps, stockings and handkerchiefs“

The long established Heidenheim-based Meebold spinning mill, also affected by this shakeout, informed its customers in a letter dated March 1, 1818 "that Mr. Hartmann’s business operations would be continued on his sole account". The Managing Director, in office since 1791, acquired his previous employer and established the Ludwig Hartmann company. It quickly became one of the largest cotton mills in the country producing “caps, stockings and handkerchiefs”.

From "Ludwig Hartmann" to "Ludwig Hartmann’s Sons"

At the end of the 1940s of the 19th century, Württemberg was again affected by a sharp economic downturn. The crisis also had an impact on Ludwig Hartmann’s company.

In 1843 Ludwig von Hartmann handed over the spinning mill and the bleaching plant to his sons Carl, Eduard and Paul, with the request "that the two entities remain together and not be separated". Carl assumed management of the bleaching plant which his father acquired in 1811, Eduard took over operation of the spinning mill in Herbrechtingen and Paul took charge of the Heidenheim cotton mill. The sons gradually brought the indebted company back to profitability now operating under the name Ludwig Hartmann’s Sons.

Paul Hartmann, however, did not comply with his father's wish to establish a joint management: In 1867 he bought the Scheckenbleiche bleaching plant in Heidenheim and founded the Paul Hartmann Bleaching, Dyeing and Dressing Company. Over the years, assisted by his son Albert, he expanded the plant into a dressing material company.