May I introduce myself briefly? I am Teddy. No, not any Teddy. I am a genuine Plueti. What do I have to do with MANN+HUMMEL? As explanation, I should like to take you on a little journey through time. I come from southern Thuringia, more precisely from the lovely town of Sonneberg. In this picturesque place, MANN+HUMMEL’s production plant was established in 1991. At that point in time, Sonneberg had been long known as the world’s toy city, but I am getting ahead of myself.
The manufacturing of toys in Sonneberg began in the 16th century. At that time, carvers and turners made the first Sonneberg toys out of wood. In 1789, Duke George I of Saxony-Meiningen awarded the traders in Sonneberg the “Great Sonneberg Trading Privilege“; the result was a very rapid increase in production and trade. At the beginning of the 19th century, mass production became possible with the invention of papier mâché. Although there were already numerous manufacturers in the region, work at home dominated. It was the doll, a good old friend of mine, which established itself as the main manufactured product. By 1880 there were 321 toy companies in and around Sonneberg. In 1883 the so-called industry school was founded, solidifying Sonneberg’s reputation for artistic and well hand-crafted toys.
The whole world looked towards Sonneberg
Today everyone can admire the dolls, advertising characters, models, and group exhibits in the German Toy Museum. The museum is located in the centre of Sonneberg – only 5 minutes drive from our MANN+HUMMEL production plant. It is well worth a visit, especially for those who are curious to know what toys looked like 500 years ago. Discover doll’s heads made of bisque porcelain or miniatures of Lilliputians in bread dough alongside more modern toys. The “Thuringian fairs” provide a stage for the Sonneberg toymakers in the Toy Museum.
They recreate a marketplace as it would have looked at the end of the 19th century with almost life-size figures. The world famous exhibit was awarded the Grand Prix at the world exhibition in Brussels in 1910. Because of the high percentage of Sonneberg toy production in the world market, the title “World Toy City“ was coined in 1913. The manufacturing of toys reached its high point at the beginning of the 20th century. Almost half the international trade in toys was achieved by Sonneberg companies along with major international stores such as Kressge and Woolworth.
During the GDR period, state owned companies produced toys and Sonneberg was the centre of the toy industry in East Germany. However, after Germany’s political change in 1989, economic breakdown occurred. Only the model train manufacturer PIKO and a few smaller private companies could make headway in a unified Germany. This included the “Plueti” company from whose Sonneberg production I came.
That’s the journey from the 16th century to today. Now you can see why the employees chose me for the time capsule! Time capsule you ask? Perhaps you are not yet aware of this: In honour of MANN+HUMMEL’s 75th Anniversary this year, every subsidiary of the company worldwide is donating an item which represents its unique region. This exciting mixture of objects can be admired in a time capsule which will be exhibited at the opening of the new technology centre of MANN+HUMMEL in Ludwigsburg. A more appropriate candidate as a toy lovingly made – and good-looking – could not have been sought. Who represents Sonneberg better than I do? Come find out for yourself and get to know my entire family. I look forward to it.
Your Teddy from Sonneberg!