Från Klara Till Kosmopolis - B.A. Hjorth & Co - 40th Anniversary - 1929

Discussion in 'Manufacturers' started by Spiritburner, Oct 17, 2008.

  1. Spiritburner

    Spiritburner Admin SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Från Klara Till Kosmopolis
    (From Klara to the Entire World)

    1426086838-Book_Cover_1.jpg

    In 1929 B.A. Hjorth & Co commissioned Ivar Anell to write their 40th anniversary book. Titled Från Klara Till Kosmopolis it was an account of the company's history from 1889.

    Hjorth set up the company with partner F.H. Getzmann selling tools and machinery. The company had the sales rights to the tools of Enköpings Mekaniska Verkstad - the adjustable spanner and pipe wrench and the Primus stoves of J.V. Svensons Fotogenkökfabrik and the success of these products formed the basis of the company's rapid expansion and success.

    In 1898 J.V. Svensons Fotogenkökfabrik reorganised as a limited company under the name Aktiebolaget Primus. In 1918 Hjorth took over the company and they became part of the BAHCO group.

    The book is a weightier tome than the 1982 Primus-Sievert 100 Anniversary book and the following extract, kindly translated by Christer Carlsson, gives a flavour.

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    The connection with the Swedish paraffin cooking stove manufacturing goes back to the very first presence of this device, or to be exact; the year 1892 when the firm B.A. Hjorth & Co. received the international rights of sales for the modest industrial company which the same year was created for the manufacturing of the, later world famous, cooking stove Primus.

    In the manner that the Primus stove has been known, and perhaps also with consideration of how this item must be regarded as one of the pioneers in Swedish exports, it can't be misplaced to here give a brief report of it's establishment.

    The significantly new and revolutionary construction of the paraffin stove Primus compared to the old wick stoves is, as we all know, the fact that the paraffin oil is vaporized before combustion, which means that it's heating capacity is fully used, and the combustion might take place without any soot or fumes.

    The paraffin vaporizing takes place in a burner of a special construction, and the supply of paraffin is provided with the aid of pressurized air, and not with a wick as in older paraffin burners. The burner must be warmed up, 'preheated', before the vaporization can get started, which means that items of this kind need a certain time to get going in full order. The efficiency will in return be much greater then if the paraffin is burned from a wick - a wick stove need 20 to 25 minutes to boil 1 litre of water, where a vaporizing stove only takes 4 to 5 minutes to do the same. The fuel consumption of the vaporizing stove is meanwhile considerably smaller then at the wick stove. The vaporizing stove is therefore much more economical compared to the wick stove considering the great efficiency and small fuel consumption.

    The principles of vaporizing paraffin oil was already known and applied when experiments were made with stoves without wicks during the 1880's. It looks as if the thought about constructing such a cooking apparatus occurred at more then one place - at least you sometimes hear about this one, or that one, who back then 'experimented in making a paraffin stove'.

    Among those who actually, successfully did such a work of invention, you might just as an example mention the father in law of the founder of Böhlmarks lamp factory. However, the paraffin-vaporizing stove he constructed never became any item to count on, mainly because of the burner which was of an impractical construction and that the pressurization was obtained with a not very durable rubber ball, so the production seized after a rather short period.

    As the proper originator of the paraffin stove construction later known under the name Primus might, perhaps with some reservations, an employee at AB Separator, called Ludvig Holm, be mentioned. The reservation to this claim has its cause in the fact that the achieved results from this person is somewhat vague, and hadn't been properly controlled. It's also important to call attention to the fact that he never made any practical use of the invention. However, it's been said that he designed a paraffin-vaporizing stove during his spare time, and that he came far enough to use a small air pump to pressurize the tank. From what it seems, he also accomplished to construct a suitable burner.

    According to the same story, this Holm had been demonstrating his device to his colleagues at Separator, where one in particular, F.W. Lindqvist, showed an extra interest in this novelty, and started to experiment in this field himself. How many of Holm's solutions he used is totally impossible to tell, and is fairly meaningless.

    The fact remains that Holm never achieved any lasting result with his own experiments, whereas Lindqvist eventually constructed a complete and fully operational paraffin-vaporizing stove. Actually so complete, that the final construction until this very day still is practically unaltered. Therefore it can't mean any injustice to, which usually is the case, give Frans Wilhelm Lindqvist the credit of being the creator of the Primus stove. Lindqvist, who finished his construction at the end of the 1880's, patented the burner and the air pump, and started the year of 1891 to produce the new paraffin-vaporizing stove with his own hands in a small workshop of 6 square metres at Agnegatan 10. The machinery consisted of a foot-operated lathe, and Lindqvist himself was the entire 'labour force'.


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    The inventor/manufacturer soon enough found these resources too small, and started to look around for better premises. As a happy coincidence, he became acquainted with a person called J.V. Svenson, who had these sought-after premises at his disposal.

    As it happened, Svenson was on this occasion looking for a wedding banns gift. When searching for a suitable item, he heard about the new vaporizing stove that Lindqvist had invented, and went to him in order to buy one. He came to be interested in the invention itself, and the meeting ended in an agreement to create a company with Lindqvist. For use as a workshop, he could offer an available apartment of two rooms and a kitchen above Ramsinska smidesverkstaden (transl.note: the Ramsinian smithy) that he owned at Klara Norra Kyrkogata 17. (transl.note; 17 Northern Church street in the district of Klara.) As the agreement was made, on March 1, 1892, it was decided that the joint company should be run under the name 'J.V. Svensons Fotogenköksfabrik' (transl.note; J.V. Svensons Paraffin Stove Factory) and that the product should carry the name Primus. The idea of this name came from the Circuit Judge, Henrik Sundevall, who was present to draw up the necessary documents.


    1426086912-Ramsin.gif

    1426086928-Smithy.gif


    The 'paraffin stove factory' was at first working under very simple conditions. Svenson was able to borrow the starting capital of 1000 kronor from Getzmann, the business partner of Hjorth, but the amount was too small to purchase any machinery of size. They had to settle with three lathes and a smaller hand operated press. The power from the gas engine in the smithy below was transmitted by a flat belt through the floor, and the labour force reached a total of seven people by the end of the first year. The stoves were sold door-to-door and generally paid for by installments.

    However, there soon was a far better sales organization, and with this the fabrication of paraffin stoves really took off. Getzmann, who as mentioned, came in contact with the two Primus-manufacturers and also involved himself in the company with an amount of money, proposed on one occasion to his business partner that they should take over the sale of the stoves, but B.A. Hjorth turned this suggestion down at first. As he saw it, this was not an item that fitted his clientele, the workshops.

    However, on a later occasion he got to see the Primus stove in action, and his interest was immediately woken. He had pictured the stove as an insignificantly improved wick stove, but became at once aware that this was a totally new kind of cooking device with multiple efficiencies compared to the old paraffin stoves. He realised immediately that this new apparatus could find a huge outlet in the market. This newly awakened interest soon led to a deal that was closed about the sole right of sales for B.A. Hjorth & Co. The two manufacturers was probably only thinking of the Swedish market originally - the capacity of the factory was at this state so small that there would not be any problems in managing to sell the entire production within the country - but B.A. Hjorth entertained much bolder plans. He saw the possibility to take the Primus stove out to the world market, and pushed for the company's sales right to apply to the whole world. This important deal was set in May of 1892.

    After this, a period of intense development starts for the firm B.A. Hjorth & Co.

    For more on the history of Primus:
    J.V. Svensons Fotogenköksfabrik
    AB Primus


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    On this very early model the cast-iron pan ring is made so that it acts as the flame spreader

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    1426087058-LIne.gif
     
  2. shagratork

    shagratork United Kingdom Moderator, R.I.P. Subscriber

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    Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!!!! :D :D

    Keep it coming!! :clap: :clap:
     
  3. rik_uk3

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    Great stuff Ross, keep it coming :)
     
  4. Bom Bom Bom Bom

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    And thanks to Christer for the translation - that is a boring and thankless task, so very many thanks for making the time and taking the effort so that a far wider audience can share this great stuff.

    :clap: :clap: :clap:
     
  5. Christer Carlsson

    Christer Carlsson Moderator SotM Winner

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    Thanks Bom*4! You're all to kind. :oops:

    Actually it's not that boring, and I find it extremely instructive to do a translation of this kind. Lots of facts that really get stuck in one's memory that way.
     
  6. Spiritburner

    Spiritburner Admin SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Nothing Christer does for CCS is ever thankless! :lol: :clap:
     
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  7. Spiritburner

    Spiritburner Admin SotM Winner Subscriber

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    This is the another extract from the B.A. Hjorth & Co 40th anniversary book,
    once again kindly translated by Christer Carlsson


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    With outstanding energy and eagerness, B.A. Hjorth immediately took it upon himself to plan and start the new sales work.

    In order to correctly highlight his efforts, one should consider that he at this time was only thirty years old, which has to be considered as a relatively 'youthful age' for an independent businessman. Plus it should also be considered that until then he'd only had been doing commercial work for about three years, and mainly in the domestic market where he could scarcely have acquired any important experiences for his upcoming task as a large exporter.

    Finally one must also consider that Swedish goods at that time were in no way as well known and well regarded as they are today, and in other words that there were not so many existing connections between Sweden and the rest of the world's many markets as there are nowadays. The young exporter therefore often had to tread new and unclear routes.

    With that, Primus has in more than one way played the role as a pioneer for Swedish goods, which is easy to see by reading the firms older correspondence.

    With the pure technical difficulties of the implementation of the sales organisation, was also the fact that this new item and its advantages, had to be presented to the public in order to find an outlet for it at all. It was important in those days too to advertise, publicise and create a desire to buy - even if this part of the sales work wasn't given as much attention as it is today.


    1426098659-Pic1a.gif

    Thus, one must not believe that the buyers themselves came by in large numbers in order to become owners of the new paraffin stove. The sale was by no means that simple. Those who already owned stoves of the old type were often content with them and hard to win over for the new kind and new buyers could only be attracted by some sort of publicity. On top of this came the fact that the operation of the new apparatus wasn't as obvious as it was for the wick stoves but demanded oral or written instructions.

    B.A. Hjorth, however, proved himself to be the man to overcome all these obstacles. Daringly he threw himself into the work of sales in the domestic market.

    He prepared written documents, participated in exhibitions, advertised and arranged demonstrations. He made connections with ironmongers in different parts of the country and could soon enough reap the benefits from this, unusually for the time, well planned and executed sales work.

    Through the years the new paraffin stove came to be known in wider and wider circles and the name Primus was etched so deeply into the consciousness of people, that for many it lost its character of a trademark and instead became a generic name for the any paraffin vaporising stove.

    All stoves of this kind, even those from future competitors, were in short called 'Primus stoves' - a custom that still persists. As an example of a similar popularisation of a trademark, one can mention the generally accepted name 'Thermos', which, as we well know, doesn't lend its origin to classical Greek, but has derived from the name Thermos, the brand name of the first vacuum flasks.

    It also seems like the name Primus has had a, so to say, suggestive influence on the eventual choice of name appearing on their competitors products. Or does not such names as Promus, Remus, Phoebus, Pragus, Priamus (now transferred to the registration of AB B.A. Hjorth itself), Virtus, Prisma, Optimus and Radius, show a certain similarity with the name Primus? It isn't said if this is because of involuntary assimilation, or of other circumstances. The possibility of confusion between the names is nevertheless there, and might in some cases have been intended.


    1426098689-Pic2a.gif

    The work on the export market was carried out with just as much intensity as the sales work on the Swedish market had been done. Here, it was mainly about establishing good relations. The firm B.A. Hjorth & Co., as mentioned before had at an early stage already achieved good contacts with Germany in the machinery and tool business, and managed soon enough via this connection to get, among others, the exporters of Hamburg interested in selling the new cooking apparatus.

    This of course took a big step in the direction of a more extensive export. Especially in the more exotic markets where the Hamburg companies already had many customers. Aside from this, a number of direct connections were made, one by one. Firstly with Norway, where shipments were already made in 1892, and then the following year with Russia.

    Thus the paraffin stove Primus, which were initially sold by door to door salesmen, eventually became a commodity of the world, and found an outlet in practically every market in constantly increasing numbers.

    The credit for this development must undoubtedly go to B.A. Hjorth. It might perhaps be objected that the Primus invention itself was such a revolutionary novelty, that it was predestined to 'walk by itself'.

    An objection like that, however, will fall flat on the ground because of the fact that the Primus stove, as already mentioned, by no means was received with any enthusiasm when it was first introduced. Just like any other objects of commercial nature, it first had to be worked into peoples' consciousness. The world market wasn't just lying there, like a hungry cuckoo chick. It took hard labour to open it up. And this is where the exquisite skill in business of B.A. Hjorth celebrated its triumphs.


    1426098718-Pic3.jpg
    AB Primus, Lilla Essingen. In the foreground is present quay building and
    earth removing works carried out for planned extensions. Photo April 1929


    One can say without exaggeration that his skill in organisation, and his energy, became the necessary and indispensable instrument by which help the Swedish paraffin stove manufacturing broke out of its narrow confines and became a vigorous, large-scale industry.

    Naturally, the demands for productive capacity increased as a consequence of the growing needs that followed the intense sales activity. Only a year after it began, the factory had to search for more space and moved to 44 Kungsgatan (currently 84). But eventually this location also became to cramped, therefore a larger plant was erected at Lilla Essingen outside Stockholm where a generous area had been bought. The Primus manufacturing is still going on in this plant, which has been expanded several times ever since.


    1426098749-Pic4.jpg
    Panorama of Lilla Essingen with the Primus factory. To the very right
    is the new bridge that connects to Stora Essingen


    Before the move to Lilla Essingen, the business was already transformed into a joint-stock company. This reconstruction took place in 1898, when Svenson, Lindqvist and Getzmann, as well as the publisher Fr. Beijer, signed the ingoing share capital of 1,500,000 kronor.

    With a little bit of surprise, one must observe that B.A. Hjorth had not participated in the formation of the company and it's easy to assume that it was his economical state that placed obstacles in his way. This was not the case however, but the reason was actually that the arrangement was set up behind his back, and first came to his knowledge after it was already an accomplished fact.

    That they, in this way showed unwillingness for a more intimate cooperation - strongly marked by the fact that a person completely outside the Primus enterprise, namely Beijer, was invited to the shares subscription - B.A. Hjorth took very much to heart, and it was probably as a consolation for this, those initial shareholders later on allotted him 110 shares, worth 100 kronor each, as a gratuity.

    The admittance of Fr. Beijer among the partners did, by the way, jeopardise the entire company's existence. Being burdened with a certain need to speculate, he got involved in a tangle of messy affairs and he soon put the Primus Company in a particularly risky situation. As a friend in need, the head of the commercial bank of Stockholm, L. Fraenckel came and cleared the precarious situation up. You can't help but notice that the company never would have been put in to this risk, if only the three original partners had invited the shrewd Hjorth as the fourth man instead of Beijer.

    Further on, in the years 1911 and 1912 to be precise, the share capital was doubled by two stock issues of 50% each, or 3 million kronor.

    J.V. Svenson became the first managing director of the company, but only sat for one contract period, i.e. to the year 1904, when F.W. Lindqvist succeeded him. He, on his part, served as managing director until 1918, after which B.A. Hjorth took over the direct leadership, as well as the entire capital stock. The Primus factory is therefore to be considered as a subsidiary to AB B.A. Hjorth & Co as from that year.


    1426098783-Pic5.jpg
    Plan over the buildings of AB Primus and the site at Lilla Essingen after the realisation
    of the present expansions. The area will come to a total of about 88.600 sq.metres


    With the affiliation of the Primus factory and the firm B.A. Hjorth & Co, the firm's sales activity within the Primus trade of course reached a totally different level than during the years when this activity was practiced only under contract. It was now possible to work in the long term and, as mentioned, put a pronounced specialisation in to practice.

    The merger was of great importance even concerning the factory itself. A radical rationalisation of the operation has been done under the management of B.A. Hjorth, and the machinery of the Primus factory is now highly modern. In some respects even unique since many of the specialised machines were invented and manufactured by Enköpings Verkstäder (ed.note: another Hjorth company), and produced only for the needs of the Primus factory.

    The rationalisation hereby achieved, has made it possible for a considerable increase of the production without the corresponding increase of the labour force. It is calculated that the present manufacturing capacity compared with the one of around 1918, would demand a 50% larger labour force if the production still followed the same lines as back then. Naturally, this modernisation of the operation has made the product cheaper.

    In this context, we should call attention to the fact that the accomplished rationalisation, whose main purpose of course has been to, as much as possible, let machines do the tasks formerly done by hand, has not caused any numerical reduction in the labour force. Because of the constantly growing sales of the factory's products, this number has instead continuously kept on rising, and has now reached 700.

    As a consequence of the constantly growing demand for increased production capacity, the premises have been expanded on several occasions. The floor surface used within the factory was about 16,000 sq.metres in 1918 . At the end of 1928 another 4,763 sq.metres was at disposal, and for the year 1929 another 3,755 sq.metres of extension is already planned and partially begun.

    Apart from the many different sizes and models of paraffin stoves, the manufacturing now contains quite a number of soldering lamps for paraffin and petrol, plus an array of paraffin vaporising apparatus for different heating purposes. At the end of 1927 manufacturing of storm lanterns, table lamps and radiators was also adopted. These items also belong to the category vaporising apparatus. The production is now up to about 1 million apparatus a year.


    1426098813-Pic6.jpg
    Some of the trademarks under A.-B. B. A. Hjorth


    The number of spare parts made in addition to this is even bigger. Apart from the mentioned items, the Primus factory is also making oilcans (Under the trademark 'Bahco'), and an array of accessories and devices for the Primus apparatus. On the whole, the operation is so to speak, self-supporting. To illustrate this with one single example, it can be mentioned that the factory is also producing all the cardboard needed for the packing.

    The firm B.A. Hjorth & Co. was early to register the trademark 'Primus' for the products coming out from the Primus factory (with the exception of the oilcans), and has during the years been putting large expenses on an effective protection for this trademark. One can get a picture of the international extension of the Primus items by learning that the protection of the trademark includes 143 registrations spread over 53 different countries and states. You can also get that picture by studying the many instructions the factory pack with every item. These are namely written in some twenty different languages. The number would be even bigger if one should consider the specially designed instructions that many agents in smaller language areas provide themselves.

    The Primus stove is still occupying the foremost place among the many different Primus items. Without any major construction changes, it is still today 'the number one seller', the item most in demand.


    1426098841-Pic7.jpg
    Certificate from Roald Amundsen


    Those models especially made for outdoor cooking, and which compete with the original household stoves in popularity, have been silent but popular companions to many a pioneer in geographical science and research. One can name names like Frithof Nansen, Roald Amundsen, the duke of the Abruzzi, Ernest Schackleton, Scott, André and many more. The Mount Everest expedition, the expeditions of Hedin and many other similar explorations have also been equipped with Primus apparatus.

    To mention a more recent example, a smaller Primus stove was brought along by captain Lundborg to the unfortunate crew from the crashed (airship) Italia, and was of great use up there in 'the red tent' on the pack ice. One can find commendatory words for the Swedish Primus apparatus in many descriptions from polar expeditions and other adventurous enterprises. Primus has in other words been 'writing history' in more than one place. Hence, it can't be more than right that it hereby has been given it's own little history.
     
  8. Spiritburner

    Spiritburner Admin SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Many thanks again to Christer for translating this new extract. It's been frustrating for me having this book but not being able to understand it all.

    I found the treatment of Hjorth at the time of the flotation and the trademark info particularly interesting.
     
  9. Doc Mark

    Doc Mark SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Evening, Ross,

    Outstanding stuff!! Many thanks for offering it here. Also, MANY thanks to Christer for his laborious translation of that piece!! Well done, my Friend, and very much appreciated! CCS would be a very sorry place, indeed, were it not for all the sharing and giving members like you, Ross, and a myriad of others!! Out little slice of Stove Heaven, right here on Earth! :clap: :D :D Take care, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc
     
  10. Bom Bom Bom Bom

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    Hi Christer,

    Thanks for your effort. It's very much appreciated.

    Cheers, Graham.
     
  11. Wim

    Wim Subscriber

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    :clap: :clap: :clap: Thanks a lot to all involved with this post, it is very interesting reading from the beginning till the last word!

    Thanks again,

    regards,

    Wim
     
  12. mr optimus

    mr optimus Subscriber

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    Superb reading Ross and Christer highly interesting indeed what a rare stove to have in a collection a hundred and seventeen years old and with a combined pan ring and flame spreader
     
  13. Christer Carlsson

    Christer Carlsson Moderator SotM Winner

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    Thanks for your kind words guys, but I can ensure you that it has been a pure pleasure to get the opportunity to read this excellent story.

    I might add a thing.
    If you wonder what that certificate Roald Amundsen wrote in Uranienborg 1913 says, it's something like this:

    "Primus was exclusively used for every boiling, frying and baking on the trip with Gjøa 1903-06 (the transit of the Northwest Passage. My note).
    We did also carry a selection of other apparatus along -wick apparatus -but they were all discarded after the first attempts.

    The sleigh ride to the south pole was only equipped with Primus. Despite the brutal treatment it often was exposed to, it always worked out to our fullest satisfaction.

    Primus is so fantastically simpel and forthright to use. No muck or difficulties with a warped wick that may bring the most patient cook to despair. No nasty odour. And on top of all that, so economic.

    If our housewives got their eyes open on this excellent apparatus' splendid qualities, it wouldn't be missed in any kitchen.
    "
     
  14. brassnipplekey

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    TQ,Christer .. A N Other CCS Delight :-)

    Nick
     
  15. Doc Mark

    Doc Mark SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Morning, All,

    I was perusing this thread again, and got to looking at the photo of B.A. Hjorth. Our own Alan Wenker bears at least a passing resemblance to him, IMHO!! Check it out, and see if you think so, too. ;) 8) :thumbup: :D Take care, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc

    1330794804-B.A._Hjorth.jpg
     
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  16. alanwenker

    alanwenker Subscriber

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    I get the comment frequently when I am out and about.