Ábrahám Ganz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Abraham Ganz)
Jump to: navigation, search
Ábrahám Ganz
Ganz abraham.jpg
Ábrahám Ganz
Born Abraham Ganz
(1814-11-06)6 November 1814
Unter-Embrach, Canton of Zürich, Switzerland
Died 15 December 1867(1867-12-15)
Pest, Austria-Hungary
Nationality Hungarian
Spouse(s) Jozefa Heiss
Children Jozefina
Anna Pospech
Parent(s) Johann Ulrich Ganz
Katharina Remi
Engineering career
Discipline mechanical engineer
iron manufacturer
father of Ganz Works
Institutions Escher Wyss AG
Josef Rollmill Company (József Hengermalom Társulat)
Ganz Works
Projects mold made of cast iron (23.04.1855)
improving the hardness of the serface of cast iron for steel making (27.11.1856)
hard cast wheels for railroad cars (13.06.1857)
improved heart pieces of railway crossings (02.12.1861)
distillation unit (16.01.1865)
reversing the intersection of railways (20.05.1865)

Ábrahám Ganz (born as Abraham Ganz, 6 November 1814, Unter-Embrach, Switzerland - 15 December 1867, Pest, Austria-Hungary) was a Swiss-born Hungarian iron manufacturer, machine and technical engineer, entrepreneur, father of Ganz Works. He was the founder and the manager of the company that he made the flagship of the Hungarian economy in the 19th century. Despite his early death in 1867 the company remained one of the strongest manufacturing enterprise in Austria-Hungary. Many famous engineers worked at Ganz Works inter alia Károly Zipernowsky, Ottó Bláthy, Miksa Déri, András Mechwart, Kálmán Kandó, Donát Bánki, János Csonka and Theodore von Kármán and several world-famous inventions were done there, like the first railway electric traction, or the invention of the roller mill, the carburetor, the transformer and the Bánki-Csonka engine.[1]


Early years[edit]

Unter-Embrach, Switzerland, the birthplace of Ábrahám Ganz

He was born into a Swiss Calvinist family in Unter-Embrach. His father, Johann Ulrich Ganz, was a cantor teacher. His mother, Katharina Remi, died when he was just 10 years old. He was the oldest son out of nine children.

Escher Wyss AG[edit]

Because of financial difficulties he had to work as a carpenter apprentice, but before his liberation he went to Zurich to work at the foundry of the Escher Wyss AG as a casting apprentice. At the age of twenty he travelled a lot in Germany, France, Austria and Italy, worked in different factories where he gathered experiences. In 1841 he arrived in Buda.

Josef Rollmill Company (József Hengermalom Társulat)[edit]

Ábrahám Ganz

István Széchenyi initiated the building of a steam mill in Buda, and he established the Josef Rollmill Company (József Hengermalom Társulat). Ábrahám Ganz started to work there as a mechanic. He saw that there is a lack of good, iron industry experts in the quickly developing Hungarian manufacturing. Shortly he became the first casting master of the foundry of the steam mill. They could achieve with the new technology of the indirect casting excessively pure casts which made it easier to combine different metals. The finished casts were introduced to the public on the first Hungarian Industrywork Exhibition (Magyar Iparmű Kiállítás) in 1842. Its special combination and purity was praised even by Lajos Kossuth. After that Ganz was nominated to be the head of the foundry and the machine repairing yard. Even in the same year he gave a job to his brother, Konrád Ganz, who was also a casting master.

In 1843, while he was working in the foundry, the cast splashed out. He became blind in one of his eyes. According to some sources he said then:

"One eye is lost, but the casting was successful."

— Ábrahám Ganz

Ganz Works[edit]

The building of the foundry (today 20 Bem József Street, Budapest)
Hard cast wheel according to Ábrahám Ganz's own patent
Interior of the Foundry Museum (Öntödei Múzeum)(today 20 Bem József Street, Budapest)

The management of the steam mill paid some parts of the profit to Ganz. He could buy in 1844 a big ground and a house from that money for 4500 Forints in the Víziváros. He built up on that site his own foundry, and started to work there with seven assistants. They made mostly casting products for the needs of the people of the city. In 1845, he bought the neighbouring site and expanded his foundry with a cupola furnace. He gave his brother, Henrik a job as a clerk, because of the growing administration works. He made already in the first year profit, and his factory got bigger and bigger. In that time he did not made his products in mass production yet. In 1846 on the third Hungarian Industrywork Exhibition (Magyar Iparmű Kiállítás) he introduced his stoves to the public, he won the silver medaille of the exhibition committee and the bronze medaille from Archduke Joseph, Palatine of Hungary.

During the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 the foundry made ten cannons and lots of cannonballs for the Hungarian army, because of that the Military Court of Austria impeached him. He got seven weeks in the prison as penalty, but because of his Swiss citizenship he was acquitted of the charge.

Ganz recognized that to develop his factory he had to make products that are mass-produced. In 1846 the Pest-Vác railway line was built. In that time the European foundries made wrought iron rims for spoked wagon wheels. They poured the casts in shapes in the sand, and leave it there to cool down. Meanwhile, in the United States and England they used a better method, the chill casting which was invented by the Englishman John Burn in 1812. The essence of this process is if you cool down the cast faster, the metal will be harder, and wear-proofer. That is possible if the casting frame is made of a good heat conductor. Ganz could made one in 1853 for the first time. And he could also improve this method by using antimony. He got a patent for this invention in 1856.

Ganz describes so the essence of his process:

"To get a hard cast, the so-called casting crust, as main equipment we use antimony. We grind it tiny and we make paint or dollop of it. We cover the walls of the casting shape with it, then we dry it and pull it together. Finally, we heat it to 100 degrees, and the liquid iron is poured into the mold. At the place where the mould walls are coated with said material, a glass hard crust is formed, which - depending on whether the wall of the cover is thiner or thicker - is two, three or four millimeters in thickness. That is why I have found antimony the best material for the production ..."

— Ábrahám Ganz

He used antimony for covering the inner surface of the mold casting to avoid burning the fluid iron on the cooling iron. That was the source of his success. In between 1852 and 1862 he built and ran Europe's first and for a long time only crust wheel foundry. His customers were Austro-Hungarian, German, French and Russian railway companies. Because of the high number of orders his foundry proved to be too small, so he built his new factory in 1858.

Between 1853 and 1866 his company delivered 86 074 wheels to 59 railway companies. Ganz bought also an English patent, the invention of Ransomes and Biddel, which was about the heart peaks of the rail switches. He improved it also, and for that he got two patents in 1861 and in 1865. Between 1860 and 1866, his company delivered 6293 crust casted heart peaks to railway companies. But they produced not just for railways, they also made parts of bridges (e.g. most of the Lánchíd's cast iron cross beams and the molding pieces of the Szeged Bridge in Szeged), as well as crust cast notched cylinders for the millindustry. Later the company achieved world-famous success with this product, during the lead of András Mechwart.

The number of employees at Ganz Works was 60 in 1854, 106 in 1857 and 371 in 1867. The daily production was 2-3 tonnes casts (with 50-60 wheels). The products of the company got several international recognitions: at the World's Fairs in Paris (three bronze medals Exposition Universelle (1855)), in London (bronze medaile 1862 International Exhibition) and on the Swiss Industrywork Exhibition a silver medal in 1867.

Personal life[edit]

Statue of Ábrahám Ganz

On the 24 October 1849 he married Jozefa Heiss, the daughter of the city judge of Buda, Laurentius Heiss. They could not have own children. So they adopted two relative orphan girls, Anna Pospech and Jozefina Ganz.[2]

He was nominated honorary citizen of Buda by the city council on 4 September 1863. In 1865 the emperor, Francis Joseph I, expressed personally his highest appreciation to Ábrahám Ganz. On the 23 November 1867 they celebrated the production of the hundredth wheel which was made with the method of chill casting, where he gave a dinner for all of his employee and their families. During his life he spent a lot of money for social purposes, in his company he uniquely opened retirement fund and patient fund.

He kept his Swiss citizenship. There are no data that he learned or could speak any Hungarian. He spoke with his family in German, and in his factory his employees spoke also German.


Tomb of Ábrahám Ganz

In his last years he worked a lot, but was not happy with his life. He saw all of his brothers going crazy and he was convinced that he will have the same future. After the death of his brother, Konrád, he committed suicide on 15 December 1867. His ashes were buried in the Kerepesi Cemetery. In 1872, Miklós Ybl built him a Mausoleum. After the death of his wife in 1913, they both lie there forever.


He is considered to be one of the pioneers of the Hungarian heavy industry. With his works he contributed a lot to the development of the Hungarian casting and machine manufacturing.

After the death of Ábrahám Ganz, András Mechwart continued his plans and managed the company. With his lead under the name of Ganz & Co. Foundry and Machine Manufacturing Inc. (Ganz és Társa Vasöntöde és Gépgyártó Rt.) it became the most significant group of companies in Hungary that was active in the machine, vehicle and electrical manufacturing industry with world-famous inventions and technical solutions.

In the original foundry the production stopped in 1964, and the building with all of the objects left became the Foundry Museum (Öntödei Múzeum). The building is since 1997 under monument protection.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]


  • Terplán, Zénó (translated from the original German biography of Antal Eichleiter): Ki vezette a gyárat Ganz Ábrahám (1814-1867) halála után? (Who lead the factory after the death of Ábrahám Ganz?)