Blechspielwarenfabrik Jos. Kraus & Co.


The tin toy factory Jos. Kraus & Co. in Nuremberg

The tin toy factory Jos. Kraus & Co. was founded by Josef Kraus and his cousin Julius Forchheimer on January 24th, 1910 in Nuremberg and registered as a general partnership in the Nurember g Commercial Register on January 25th, 1910. The brand “JKCo” was also used in connection with the name “Fandor” and was registered with the Reich Patent Office on July 4th, 1912. "Fandor" was made up of the first three letters of the maternal first names of Josef Kraus, "Doris" and Julius Forchheimer, "Fanny".

In 1923, the co-founder Julius Forchheimer emigrated to the United States of America. In the same year Josef Kraus also stayed in the USA. Both built the company "Dorfan" in Newark N.J., which manufactured and sold toy trains and accessories. When naming the American company, the first letters of the maternal name were used in reverse order. In May 1923, the owners of the Nuremberg company transferred the management of Jos. Kraus & Co.

From the beginning, the tin toy factory, contrary to the then established companies such as Märklin, Bing and Fleischmann, specialized in the production of toy trains and accessories in gauges 0 and I. During the first two years, Kraus only produced clockwork trains. From 1913 electric toy trains were also added to the range. The production comprised almost the entire range of tin toy trains and the associated accessories. Transformers, tracks, switches, signals, warning signs, station keepers' houses, train stations, bridges, passenger cars, freight wagons, locomotives for clockwork and electrical operation were produced. Another product range were the so-called department store railways, i.e. complete train sets (locomotives, wagons, tracks and transformers) which were often located in the low-price segment. Around 1930 a forward-running passenger train with a brake lever in the driver's cab, consisting of a locomotive with a tender, a packing and passenger car, four round rails, was offered for only 1.25 Mark. This enabled everyone and every child to play with the trains. With such a low price, less attention was paid to quality, so that these trains are very quickly “sacrificed” to the fun of the game and are therefore only very seldom preserved today. But high-quality locomotives, wagons and stations were also manufactured. One of the most expensive locomotives was offered in the catalog around 1930 for 105 Mark. The corresponding locomotive was already 50 cm long. These products can be compared to the top high-qualitiy-models of that time. In addition, the Reich Patent Office granted the company numerous patentsm like one for the first fully automatic clutch (Kraus clutch) in November 1933.

In the course of the global economic crisis, the “largest toy factory in the world” before World War I, the Bing-Werke AG, ceased its toy production. At the beginning of 1932, the Nuremberg toy manufacturers Josef Falk and Josef Kraus acquired the toy department of the Bing-Werke AG and founded Bing-Spielwaren GmbH. The factory of mechanical and electrical toys Jos. Kraus & Co. used their commitment to Bing GmbH to integrate machines, tools and prefabricated parts from Bing railway production into their own production. At the end of the year Josef Kraus sold his shares in Bing GmbH to Albert Huck, sole owner of the Karl Bub toy factory. Jos. Kraus & Co. continued to manufacture a small selection of Bing railroad models with the machines and tools they had acquired. In addition to this economic expansion, Jos. Kraus & Co. invested approx. 120,000 RM from 1933 to 1937 in new machines and tools in order to be able to manufacture an expanded range.

 Jos. Kraus & Co had been a strongly export-oriented company since 1910. Until 1928, exports to Canada and the United States predominated. After the collapse of the American market, the business concentrated on exports to European countries and the domestic market.

Immediately after the National Socialists came to power, Josef Kraus emigrated to the USA in April 1933. After the Reichspogromnacht on November 9, 1938, the authorized signatory Bernhard Früh was arrested by the Gestapo on November 10, 1938 and forced to relinquish his power of attorney to the German Labor Front (DAF). Immediately afterwards the appointed acting manager, Fritz Rauh, started sales negotiations with the already Aryanized Nuremberg company Keim & Co. KG. The purchase contract for the property shares (machines, etc.) was concluded on May 27, 1939 and only became legally effective upon payment on November 27, 1940. However, the company Keim & Co. with Beg in the sales negotiations massively in the shops of Jos. Kraus & Co. intervened. After the last zinc sheet delivery was made in autumn 1939, production was stopped in mid-1940 for good.

After the end of the war, in December 1948,the former owners Josef Kraus and Julius Forchheimer made claime  for reimbursement and reparation to Keim & Co. and the German Reich at the central registration office in Bad Nauheim. The reparation negotiations ended on March 10, 1960 with a final settlement at the Nuremberg-Fürth regional court. On June 5th, 1963 the company Jos. Kraus & Co deleted from the commercial register at the Nuremberg Local Court.

 Here you will find selected documents on the history of Jos. Kraus & Co