The Beginnings of the Glass Factory Noelle & von Campe

1879: an early painting of the factory Photo: Elisabeth Pophal

It all started with a local initiative. In 1866 the factory owner Friedrich Bartling, the sawmill owner Heinrich Schmidt and the porcelain manufacturer Heinrich Witte founded a „glass factory with living quarters for the factory workers“. Specialists from the area were employed to produce hollow glassware using a modern glass furnace. The 1864/65 constructed railway line from Altenbeken to Kreiensen via Höxter enabled the easy transport of soda, silica sand, feldspar, coal and also casting moulds. Sales flourished but there was a lack of capital.The founders very quickly left the company and new owners took over: in 1871 August von Campe and in 1874 Heinrich and August Noelle. Ever since then, the company’s name has been Noelle & von Campe.

A painting of the furnace hall of Noelle & von Campe (1881) by Th. Müller Source: Archive of the community of Boffzen

The new owners were ambitious and sold their glass products both nationally and internationally. The Noelle company from Lüdenscheid produced metalware which, in combination with glass, became lucrative consumer goods. Soda siphons – produced since 1870 – were a typical example of such consumer goods consisting of glass and metal. Pocket flasks, salt cellars, perfume flacons and storage bottles pushed up sales. In 1891, a storage glass bottle with a screw top was successfully patented. After that, glass storage vessels with ground glass stoppers and numerous new types of medicinal bottles were marketed. At the same time, drinking glasses and milk bottles continued being the core business.

Soda siphons became a lucrative product of the company and were exported to many countries including the USA, Photos: Stefanie Waske (l.), Archive Glass Museum Boffzen

In 1907, the glassworks employed around 160 people. Most of them had moved to Boffzen from elsewhere. Noelle & von Campe paid weIl, provided health insurance, a savings club and a co-op. The glass workers were mostly social democrats and founded further associations. Some of them lived in company-owned flats, while others were able to build their own modest houses. Before First World War, Noelle & von Campe was a nationally and internationally successful family-run company.