Calculators from Brunswick

In 1892, the Brunswick firm of Grimme, Natalis & Co started to build calculators of the brand “BRUNSVIGA” and to export them to large parts of the world. The BRUNSVIGA was the first pinwheel calculator to be manufactured industrially in the German empire. Apart from calculators, “GNC” produced a variety of other articles. As the calculator business proved highly successful, the firm renamed itself to “Brunsviga-Maschinenwerke, Grimme, Natalis & Co AG” at the end of the twenties, and the calculators undisputedly became their main product. In 1959, the Olympia factory from Wilhelmshaven bought the company, and the name BRUNSVIGA served only as a brand from then on. Manufacturing ended at the Brunswick plant in 1979.

In 1866 everything had started with the Brunswicker Albert Natalis (1831-1904) taking up the manufacturing of sewing machines. The demand rose so sharply that a second factory and an iron casting works could be established under the direction of the locksmith Carl Grimme (1836-1883). On the 3rd of November 1871, they bought the factories of “F. Borchers” and “C.A. Merkel” and became “Grimme, Natalis and Co.” , a limited partnership with shareholders, which also branched into Moskow, Milan and Trieste. The turnover of sewing machines was still very high, but shortly after, competition rose steeply and prices dropped. “GNC” thus started in the 1880s to manufacture a wide array of other products, e.g. ovens, gas furnaces, gas heaters, fans, automates, patented duplex washing machines, wringers, shaping machines and cash registers.

When Carl Grimme died on July 2nd 1883, Ing. Franz Trinks (1852-1931) was named as his successor. Trinks, born in 1852 in Helmstedt, studied machine building at the Technische Hochschule Hannover, and worked as a teacher in the Technicum Rinteln, and in the “Maschinenfabrik Dippe” in Schladen. At “GNC”/”Brunsviga” he remained technical director and associate until 1921.

“GNC” was an important part of the Brunswick industry landscape. In the board of directors of the company many important industrial characters from the region held a position, e.g. Max Jüdel and Johann Selwig, as well as Board of Commerce’s Max Gutkind, and Board of Justice’s Max Silberschmidt. Albert Natalis and Franz Trinks had a part in the re-establishment of the Brunswick district society of engineers, and authoritatively so in the formation of the "Institution for Statutory Accident Insurance and Prevention in the Precision Engineering Industry", which started functioning on October 1st 1885.

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