Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Wogau saga that includes a bonus

In the early 1760s, Catherine II the Great wanted to modernize agriculture and industry in the Russian Empire. Compared with Western Europe the country was lagging behind on economic development. She published declarations in which she invited Europeans to immigrate and become Russian citizens, farmers, entrepreneurs and traders. Many new settlers came from Germany. Catherine was a German princess herself.

Wogau & Co. brings the remarkable story of the Wogau family and its businesses in the Russian Empire. The book's author is Erik Meyer, an expert in Russian scripophily who has written articles in magazines and auction catalogs in this field. 

Wogau & Co., by Erik Meyer 
Portrait of Philipp Maximilian von Wogau (27 May 1807 - 20 Jan 1880) 

In 2017, after many years of research on the German Wogau family, Erik Meyer published the book Wogau & Co.  He sketches out the growth of the Wogau business:
"In 1827, Maximilian von Wogau leaves Frankfurt and sets off for Moscow to seek his fortune. He will rise from office boy to multi-millionaire. His enterprise will become the largest and wealthiest German trading firm and industrial group in Russia.  
Wogau engaged in consumer goods tea and sugar as well as in commodities and semi-finished products such as iron, copper, cement, paper, soda and other  chemical and pharmaceutical products. 
Despite holding shares in a dozen factories, the company’s own capital was strictly kept within the family. Wogau never went public. The shares in capital and profits of individual family members were only kept in a simple notebook, the so-called  “Journal of the Secret Book.“ 

The book's chapters discuss the many aspects of the Wogau saga. An overview :
  • Am Anfang stand der Tee (Tea in the beginning)
  • Die Dynastie der Associés (Dynasty of associates)
    • Friedrich (Fjodor Maximowitsch) von Wogau
    • Wilhelm (Wassilij Dmitriewitsch) Luther
    • Karl Heinrich (Karl Maximowitsch) von Wogau
    • Moritz (Mawrikij Filippowitsch) Marc
    • Conrad (Konrad Karlowitsch) Bansa
    • Albert Erwin (Erwin Augustowitsch) Schumacher
    • Otto (Otto Maximowitsch) von Wogau
    • Maximilian Hugo (Hugo Maximowitsch) von Wogau
    • Maximilian (Max Karlowitsch) von Wogau
    • Georg Konrad (Georgij Dmitriewitsch) Rüchardt
    • Rudolf (Rudolf Wassiliewitsch) Hermann
    • Hugo (Hugo Mawrikiewitsch) Marc
    • Walter Waldemar Schumarcher (Ffennell)
  • Der Handel mit "Commodities" (Trading in commodities) 
  • Wogau als Privatbankier und Bankengründer (Wogau as a private banker and bank founder) 
  • Die industriellen Beteiligungen (The industrial holdings)  
    • Wogau in der Eisenhüttenindustrie (Iron and steel) 
    • Wogau in der Kupferindustrie (Copper) 
    • Wogau in der Baustoffindustrie (Building materials) 
    • Wogau in der chemischen Industrie (Chemical) 
    • Wogau in der Zuckerindustrie (Sugar) 
    • Weitere Industriebeteiligungen (Other industrial participations) 
  • Die Geschäftsordnung des Handelshauses (Rules of Order of the trading house) 
  • Das Geheimbuch (The Secret Book) 
  • Warwarka, die Zentrale des Hauses Wogau & Co. (The headquarters of the Wogau business) 
  • Familie und Gesellschaft (Family and company) 
  • Weltkrieg, Revolution und Flucht (World war, revolution and flight) 
  • BRAMARCO - Wogau im Exil (Successor BRAMARCO - Wogau in exile) 
  • Das Schiksal der in Russland Gebliebenen (The fate of those who remained in Russia)  

Société pour la Production de Soude en Russie sous la Firme "Lubimoff, Solvay et Cie" 
1000 Roubles share, 1888, Moscow 
This joint venture between the Russian soda producer Ivan Lubimoff and the Belgian company Solvay came about in 1887 through the initiative and equity participation of Wogau & Co. Already more than 130 years ago, the founding of the company was the result of a joint pan-European project involving the Russian Ivan Lubimoff, the Belgian Armand Solvay, the German Maximilian von Wogau, the Frenchman Auguste Loutreuil and the British citizen and St. Petersburg textile manufacturer William Thornton as the founders. 
courtesy of Erik Meyer 

But things would change for the Wogau family business. Erik Meyer continues :
"Over the years, Wogau managed to grow the company’s capital to nearly unbelievable proportions. By adopting prudent bylaws for the trading firm, Wogau succeeded in keeping together the growing family and its capital for nearly 80 years. The firm’s “Secret Book“, for a long time supposed to have been lost, survived and is presented in this volume for the very first time!  
The Russian Revolution of 1917 put a stop to the remarkable rise of the trading firm of Wogau & Co. The family had to flee the Bolsheviks. Their hard-earned wealth of over 50 million gold rubles was lost in one fell swoop."

Erik Meyer has written an intriguing work about a German immigrant family in Tsarist Russia. The book includes black and white photographs from the 19th and early 20th century, and of course several rare Russian bond and share cerificates in full color. 

Further details
  • Title: Wogau & Co. - Das grösste deutsche Handelshaus im russischen Zarenreich, in English : Wogau & Co. - The largest German trading house in the Russian Empire
  • Author : Erik Meyer
  • ID : hardcover 978-3-86460-618-2, softcover 978-3-86460-619-9, published 2017 by Pro BUSINESS GmbH
  • Languages : German
  • Number of pages : 210
  • Images : 70 images, including about 20 bonds and shares 

The book, which fits in your laptop case, is available on Amazon here. Google provides an online preview, there.

Oh, and at the end of the book, there is a Buchbonus, a QR code, that gives you access to more online resources including huge family trees, some more scripophily and the like.
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