Crystal Lake, IL—Thanks to a deed preserved through the centuries, papermaker Hahnemühle can trace its beginnings with certainty. On February 27, 1584, the Duke of Brunswick authorized the operation of a paper mill at Relliehausen in the Solling hills. Merten Spieß, beneficiary of the ducal authorization, set to work making paper and wrote the first chapter of a success story that continues to this day.
At that time, sheets of foolscap paper were particularly sought-after for official documents of all kinds. However, Merten Spieß and his successors had a special knack for quality and the requirements of the market. It’s assumed that’s why that particular factory outlasted all the other paper mills in the vicinity that were established after it.
Moreover, for almost 200 years, the business now known as Hahnemühle remained in family ownership. Then in 1769, Jacob Andrae from Osterode purchased the company. More than 100 years went by before Carl Hahne, from Hanover, became the owner in 1886. Hahne renamed the business after himself and expanded it to approximately its current size. Paper machines also arrived. By that time, the product range also expanded: high-quality art paper was an important element of the portfolio.
Hahnemühle Leadership Optimistic
“A company that has existed for 435 years has innovation in its genes; otherwise, it would not have survived for so long,” said Jan Wölfle. Wölfle was appointed managing director of Hahnemühle in early 2019. “I have only been here a short time, but I have already assimilated this company’s ability to reinvent itself again and again.
“Our paper experts find the right answer to every trend in the art paper market or a new development in the field of fine art printing. The diversity of paper is simply fascinating. Just as it has in previous centuries, Hahnemühle will continue to discover new business areas and achieve success on the market.”
In addition, at the start of the 20th century, the Düren-based company Schleicher & Schuell acquired shares in Hahnemühle; it became the sole owner in 1927. Schleicher & Schuell brought valuable knowledge about the production of premium filter papers. It also moved the entire production facility to Dassel in the 1940s.
In the company’s most recent chapter, it developed “the finest art papers for inkjet printing” at the end of the 1990s. These papers, the Digital FineArt Collection, “allow flawless printing of photos and reproductions on paper with peerless durability and feel.” Demand for this paper has multiplied over the past 20 years. Today, Hahnemühle is a global market leader in the fine art inkjet paper segment.
Furthermore, Hahnemühle has operated as an independent company again since 2004, with its separation from the Schleicher & Schuell. The company has nearly 200 employees globally. In addition, it has subsidiaries in the UK, France, the USA and China. As a result, it occupies an optimal position in the global market.
Today, its product portfolio comprises the divisions of FineArt, Digital FineArt and Filtration. In all three areas, Hahnemühle boasts expertise and formulas collected and refined over decades and even centuries.