Sarreguemines /Серигмайнс /


Sarreguemines /Серигмайнс /

In 1790, three Strasbourg tobacco merchants (brothers Nikolas-Henri and Augustin Jacobi and Joseph Fabry) built a pottery factory in the town of Sarreguemin (Moselle department, Lorraine, France), located on the left bank of the Saar River.

This enterprise, which employed about 20 workers, did not have much success and, despite all the steps taken by Jacobi, lasted only ten years. The reason for this was several very serious factors at once - technological difficulties in obtaining raw materials, difficult relations with the local population and, as a result, the inability to compete with other faience factories in France and Great Britain. In 1800, the Bavarian Paul Utzschneider bought out the collapsed business, and carried out the modernization of production, the largest customers and fans of faience from Sargemin became Emperor Napoleon (1804-1815), and a century later, the chief architect of the Paris metro (opened in 1900, the first stations are decorated with tiles from Sargemin).

What, in addition to updating the decor, Paul Utzschneider did to promote his product, history is silent, but soon the faience from Fabry Utzschneider et compagnie became so popular in France and neighboring Germany that the production capacity of the old factory had to be significantly expanded. The growth of demand for French faience was also helped by a very timely economic blockade of England, which significantly reduced the volume of sales of English porcelain and faience on the French market. In 1812, 160 craftsmen were already working at the enterprise, firing faience in 7 wood-burning stoves, new workshops were built, several stone-crushing mills were purchased and products with the trendy decor "grès polis imitant les pierres" (polished sandstone imitating precious stones) were put into production. Initially, this technology was developed at the English Wedgwood factory, but Paul Utzschneider significantly expanded the color range of the "jewels", adding light brown, terracotta red, light yellow ("Land of Naples") and brown ("Land of Egypt") colors to them. Also, going to a meeting with the "greens" protesting against the deforestation of the surrounding forests, he was the first to replace his wood-burning stoves with coal stoves. Obviously, Paul Utzschneider was awarded the Legion of Honor in 1819 for his diligence in popularizing domestic faience and caring for the environment. In 1828, the factory for the first time produced a very popular faience with the decor "printed engraving". In 1836, when his son-in-law Alexandre de Geiger took over the management of the company, which consisted of a factory and 3 stone-crushing mills, as many as 300 masters of various specialties already worked in it.

Baron Alexandre de Geiger turned out to be an even more talented Bavarian businessman with very large "connections at the top". Realizing what opportunities the civil service opens up, he, being a well-known businessman, first became mayor of Sargemin, then senator, and then consul General of the Moselle department. Having become the statesman of Alexandre de Geiger, he did not forget about his faience production for a minute, and therefore gradually turned Sargemin into a powerful transport hub with convenient railway and water interchanges (the Saar-Rhine Canal). In 1838, in order to strengthen his position in the market, he decided to combine his factory with other equally well-promoted brands "Villeroy" and "Boch" (at that time still separate firms). The new company was named "Utzschneider et compagnie". This was a very successful step, which allowed not only to modernize the existing production once again, but also to open two new faience factories in 1853 and 1860. In 1850, the production of a new "opaque" tile with a printed pattern applied using electroplating plates was launched. In 1855, the company 's turnover was 1.5 million. francs, and by 1867, more than 2,000 people were already working at the factories.

In 1867, thanks to the forms and decorations acquired from Dubois à Limoges (Vienna), the production of high-quality Rococo porcelain began. In 1870, for the first time, the luxurious "majolica from Sargemin" (figurines, vases, jugs, etc.) appeared. Business flourished, the popularity of products grew, but... In 1870, the Franco-Prussian War broke out and a third of Lorraine (including Sargemin) was ceded to Germany. The inhabitants of these lands were given the right to choose - to become new German citizens or to leave their homes and move to France. Alexandre de Geiger also made his choice. He retired and moved to Paris. The management of the company, which occupies one of the leading positions in the French market, passed into the hands of his son Paul de Geiger. In the history of Sargemin faience, a difficult German-French stage began, which lasted until the end of the First World War.

Being a Frenchman to the core, Paul de Geiger understood that in addition to the Sargemin remaining in Germany, he should establish the production of faience on the territory of his native France. Thus, he will be able to provide jobs for craftsmen who moved to France (at that time the company employed 1,600 people) and will get away from exorbitant export taxes. Having studied the match, Paul preferred two "pottery" cities - Digoin (Digouin, not to be confused with Dijon - Dijon) and Vitry-le-Francois (Vitry le Francois), where he built two new factories and a large warehouse of finished products in 1877 and 1881. Another small factory "Saint-Maurice à Paris" was opened by Saint-Maurice (Seine). Playing on French patriotism, Paul quickly established the production and sale of domestic faience and porcelain, displacing all foreign competitors from the market. Moreover, the new factories began to produce affordable products with bright decorative patterns, which were destined to once again glorify the famous Sarguemin faience (now Digoin-Sarreguemin). It was a magnificent faience and porcelain, made according to old patterns, but in a new blue-red decor.

The audience met the novelty with a bang and the company immediately expanded the range of products. Tobacco cans, large vases, jugs, all kinds of tableware, kitchen utensils, tiles and much more have appeared on sale. The combination of deep blue and bright ochre has become a well-recognized trademark of Digoin-Sarreguemin products. In parallel with the dishes, the Paul de Geiger factories started manufacturing finishing tiles (1880) and reached such heights in this business that they received an order for the decoration of the first stations of the Paris metro (1900). At the turn of the century, Digoin-Sarreguemin was considered one of the largest manufacturers of faience in Europe. More than 3,000 people worked at its factories located in various cities.

But in 1913 Paul de Geiger died and the business was temporarily divided into two parts - French and German. Reunification took place only after the end of the First World War, when Lorraine became French again. The new company with headquarters in Paris was named "Digoin - Sarreguemin - Vitry-le-Francois". In the 1930s, the popularity of majolica began to decline, production declined. During the Second World War, the plant in Sergemin was closed, and then sold to the Villeroy & Boch concern (1942). In 1979, all Digoin-Sarreguemin plants were bought by the St.Clemente Concern (an old factory in Luneville, France). In 1983, the factory in Sargemin was closed and eventually turned into a museum. (Another Digoin-Sarreguemin Ceramics Museum is open in Digoin). The plant in Diguen began to produce tableware for hotels, and the plant in Vitry-le-Francois - ceramics for bathrooms. On February 1, 2007, when the liquidation of Digoin-Sarreguemin-Vitry-le-Francois was officially announced. Now the right to produce copies of antique porcelain and faience from Sargemin according to original samples and technologies belongs to the St.Clemente plant, which produces these products only in small batches.