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"The site is an arid heath, a marsh-based, sandy, poor-quality, cold soil with no trees except for juniper bushes." The expert report from 1754 for the site on which an ironworks was to be built did not sound promising at all. This did not bother Bishop Franz Ferdinand von Wenge. Four years later, he lit the blast furnace of St. Antony in Osterfeld, marking the birth of the iron industry in the Ruhr.
Initially, everyday products were an important mainstay of the newly founded company. Best sellers of St. Antony and the subsequent "Hüttengewerkschaft und Handlung Jacobi, Haniel & Huyssen" (JHH) included cast iron weights for scales used in trading. These were extremely popular – in Germany in the 18th century, there were not yet any standardized weights and measures. This did not change until 1834 with the foundation of the German Customs Union.
So-called pottery goods made life easier for people during the time of early industrialisation. These included pots, pans, kettles, irons, mortars, waffle irons, plates, grilles and similar cast iron goods – all manufactured at Hüttengewerkschaft. The cast iron pots were indestructible. For many years, sample books – a type of advertising brochure from the time – described the iron products.
Popular with private customers was also cast iron in the form of kitchen ovens, which were reverently referred to as "cooking machines". In order to bring these heavyweights to housewives, on 8 August 1821, Hüttengewerkschaft enclosed an artistic paper model – an early form of sales support – with its offer letter. The company offered standard ovens, which customers could order from the catalogue. Furthermore, a key part of its advertising strategy was that it took individual customer requests into account when manufacturing the stoves. The reputation for quality soon began to spread beyond national borders. Both the Netherlands and Russia became early export markets for JHH, which was renamed Gutehoffnungshütte (GHH) in 1873.
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