Please find enclosed the english translation as well as a film of the oldest preserved kiln complex in Europe and its reconstruction as a model.

Old Kiln House - 4 brief information

The “Old Kiln House” (current location) is a technical monument of supra-regional importance because here the earliest still preserved kilns for porcelain production in Europe were found. In the adjoining “Old Mill” the first experiments on porcelain production in Fürstenberg took place. This ensemble is completed by the “Von-Langen-Row” as an early example of corporate housing.

The map shows the location of four further information points. Current location in gold.

Before 1747 there was the castle, the state farm and a tavern – a larger settlement was not found. Therefore, the first buildings of the manufactory formed the nucleus of the village. From this time forward the prosperity of the village was linked with the development of porcelain production: in good times and in bad – thenceforth 275 years.

Generations of families earned their livelihood from the manufactory. Crises of the “smoking castle” often resulted in painful setbacks of the villagers. Even today the manufactory and the museum are important economic and cultural factors.

The friendship circle of Fürstenberg porcelain (“Freundeskreis Fürstenberger Porzellan e.V.”) would like to draw attention to these unique buildings with the provided information. This was made possible with financial support of “Die Braunschweigische Stiftung”, “Braunschweigische Sparkassenstiftung“ and “creo-media GmbH”.

In addition, numerous not here named persons and institutions helped, most notably regarding the excavation of the kiln. This bears responsibility to strive for a monument-appropriate restoration and preservation of this unique ensemble.

Info Point 1

The “Von-Langen-Row“ is an early example of corporate housing and an indicator of the economic policy in the middle of the 18th century.

Duke Charles I. of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1735-1780) was a governor driven by the principle of the Age of Enlightenment. Different to his predecessor he supported art not just for its own sake or for great splendor at court. Rather art should improve the economic condition of the population. In that regard his endeavor to establish a porcelain manufactory should be viewed, dating back at least to 1744.

In 1745 Johann Georg von Langen, verderer of the duke, was entrusted to taking an inventory of the Brunswick-Weser forestry. He demanded that not more timber should be taken from the woods as it was possible to be regrown.

With this preservation of the natural resources of the forest in order to balance its economic use with social needs, von Langen can be viewed as a pioneer of the principle of sustainability. He also supported undertakings that profitably utilised timber for the benefit of the population.

It was von Langen who suggested Fürstenberg as a location for the porcelain manufactory with referral to the Solling forest to be rich of timber and an available vacant castle. On January 11th 1747 the duke gave consent and installed von Langen as first director. This is also the founding day of the manufactory.

Johann Georg von Langen (1699 – 1776): Pioneer of a sustainable economy and first director of the porcelain manufactory

Info Point 2

In 1747 the vacant old mill building provided room for the first laboratory with a drying oven and a kiln as well as accommodation for the technical director of the porcelain manufactory, Johann Christoph Glaser.

Similar to alchemists, who searched for the philosophers’ stone to transmutate base metals to silver or gold, quacks were roaming the country who called themselves arcanists. These arcanists pretended to know the secret arcanum to produce porcelain, like Glaser. Although first firing of the kiln took place January 1750 it became obvious that Glaser did not have the necessary knowledge to produce porcelain.

Meanwhile, the arcanum reached Meißen, Höchst near Frankfurt/a.M. and Vienna. In the year 1753, the operating manager of the porcelain manufactory in Höchst

Johann Kilian Benckgraff could be recruited to Fürstenberg. Unfortunately, he died just four weeks after his arrival and along with it the hope of the arcanum.

However, Benckgraff bequeathed his knowledge in writing. Along with the already achieved progress this allowed within the same year for producing the first hard paste porcelain. At the behest of duke Charles I porcelain from Fürstenberg bears the blue F branding.

Johann Christoph Glaser (1684 – after 1753): Pretended to be able to make porcelain

Johann Kilian Benckgraff (1708 – 1753): brought 1753 arcanum to Fürstenberg

Info Point 3

Oldest preserved kiln complex in Europe
Rediscovery and reconstruction of a model
Aspirations to develop this site as a museum and touristic object

The demolition of a barn in 2006 revealed stone constructions that initiated archaeological excavations. It turned out to be a true sensation: a kiln from the earliest time of porcelain production in Fürstenberg. Furthermore, the oldest still existing kiln complex in Europe!

This happened thanks to numerous fortunate circumstances. Foremost, the construction was preserved because the manufactory had moved to the castle after all requirements had been arranged at this new site. Unlike in other places, the old kiln complex was not torn down to make space for new constructions.

Later in 1889 conversion plans resulted in demolitions of the eastern part of the kiln house. Fortunately, due to its hillside location only the topmost pieces were removed and the voids filled at level. Therefore, the major part of the kiln complex vanished below the surface and became forgotten until more than 100 years later dredging activities revealed its existence.

With 3D measurement technology a model of the kiln could be created and its function reconstructed. For safety reasons the excavation site was filled with sand and further protected with a tin roof. It is planned to completely reconstruct the kiln complex aiming to revitalize the entire ensemble as a museum and touristic object.

The following video features the “Old Kiln House” as one of the earliest still preserved kilns for porcelain in Europe and represents an industrial monument of supra-regional significance. In combination with the “Old Mill” in which 1747 first experiments towards producing porcelain took place and the “Von-Langen-Row” as an early example of corporate housing they represent a unique ensemble.

The friendship circle of Fürstenberg porcelain (“Freundeskreis Fürstenberger Porzellan e.V.”) produced this movie lead by Dr. Thomas Engelke and Susanne Oerke on the occasion of the 275th anniversary of the Fürstenberg manufactory and is and extension of earlier engagement.

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Info Point 4

Johann Bessler was driven by ingenuity and lived a restless and adventurous live. He was yearning to invent the perpetuum mobile to go down in history. With support of duke Charles I of Brunswik-Wolfenbüttel he began construction of a miracle-machine in Fürstenberg: independent of wind directions the updraft from the river Weser should be exploited. Hence, he planned a horizontal fan wheel.

It turned out to be his last project of this widely travelled and ambitious man. He died Nov 30th 1745. He allegedly fell from the scaffold of the house before the roof construction was started.

Following the final decision to establish the porcelain manufactory this building was utilized for the first experiments on porcelain production and served as laboratory until 1755. Well into the mid 1980s it provided housing for employees of the manufactory. The naming “Old Mill” or “Orffyrésche Mill” are still used today.

Johann Ernst Elias Bessler (1681-1745): Inventor alias Orffyré, constructor of the Old Mill