In 1853, the miller and founder of the turbine-manufacturing factory, Daniel Straub from Geislingen, joined the company Schweizer Brothers in order to establish the enterprise Metallwarenfabrik Straub & Schweizer. As early as in 1862, the young company producing silver-plated cutlery and other dishware received an award at the World Exhibition in London. When the Schweizer brothers left the company, the enterprise was renamed to Straub & Sohn. In 1880, the prosperous Straub & Sohn fused with Ritten & Co. who had more advanced equipment available, which resulted in the establishment of the company Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik (WMF). Further development came with the construction of the company’s own glassworks which brought it more independence and the possibility to produce its own glass inserts for varied vessels and vases. In the course of time, the interests of WMF were multi-faceted in essence, a good example of this being the take-over of the production equipment from Galvanoplastichen Kunstanstalt in Munich which was employed in Geislingen between 1894 and 1950 with the aim to produce decorative sculptures, decorative objects intended for buildings, replicas of works of art (mainly from the Renaissance period) and copies of archeological findings. The most famous amongst them is the reproduction of the portal of the baptistery in Florence – the “porta coeli” by Lorenzo Ghiberti (at present, it is on display in the WMF headquarters in Geislingen). In 1892 WMF patented its cutlery silver-plating technology, based on plating places where cutlery becomes the most worn-off with two layers of silver. This technology is still in use.
With the arrival of Art Nouveau, which strongly influenced the WMF studios under the leadership of Albert Mayer, there followed modernization and extension of the company’s range of production. In 1925 the company first introduced products originating from the special department of Contemporary Decorative Work, headed by Hugo Debach, whose aim was to draw the company WMF closer to costumers interested in art and design. The same department also developed a specific technology of treating metal surfaces, which was called “Ikora” and was based on thermal as well as chemical treatment of metal and its subsequent hand-made decoration. Objects produced in large series thus bore the mark of originality. An important milestone in the company’s history was when it received an exclusive right to use the first-rate stainless steel V2A, called Cromargan, which WMF has been employing in manufacturing tables, kitchen accessories and cutlery.
At present, the company WMF is an international organization with thousands of employees and branches worldwide.