Swords have always played a major role in world history. Some swords weapons were of such
importance that they were given specific names such as King Arthur's "Excalibur" or Segfried's "Balmung". In the 16th century, the art of sword forging was already well developed in Solingen and Wilhelm Weyersberg, an ancestor of the WKC founder, became the Mayor of Solingen in 1573.
By this time, the "Solinger method," a division of labour organized by the guilds, was
already established. For example, the tasks of sharpening and polishing of swords were performed not by the same workers, but by craftsmen trained for the single skill. Due to this innovation, the craftsmen of Solingen gained a good reputation for excellent blades. The quality of the blade was recognised to such an extent that the name "Solingen" became an international brand name. Even today, "Solingen" is a legally protected trademark. During the time of the Industrial Revolution, the Weyersberg family played an important role in sword production and marketing in Solingen.
One of the reasons for this success was the invention of the blade forge roller in England. Fritz Weyersberg acquired this patent and introduced the roller in Solingen for the first time. Thanks to this equipment, Fritz Weyersberg was able to produce a significantly greater number of blades than normally possible. However, at the same time another family also greatly influenced the city of Solingen: Family Kirschbaum gained a worldwide reputation for the marketing of Solingen's swords.
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In 1883 the two families joined together and founded Weyersberg, Kirschbaum, and Cie. (WKC), the most powerful enterprise in Solingen at this time. In 1900, the company employed more than 1,200 workers. In addition to swords, they also produced complete weapons, bike parts and motorcycles.
It was not a coincidence that the first two telephones in Solingen with the numbers 1 and 2 belonged to the company Weyersberg, Kirschbaum, and Cie. In 1922, WKC was taken over by the "Siegen Solinger Gussstahlverein" and business suffered greatly under the severe economic crisis of the time. Between 1933 and 1945, WKC regained a reputation for outstanding quality swords and knives and became the most important supplier of these items to the German army. During World War II, WKC was the target of Allied bombardments of Solingen and almost all buildings and equipment were destroyed. Production was not possible and operations ceased.
In 1955, the recent history of WKC begins. Hans Kolping from Solingen , a successful
producer of high quality knives, bought WKC. Production was located in the former WKC pipe production plant on Wittkuller Street. Here, shortly after the war pistols were produced. Hans Kolping discontinued the production of pistols and focused on producing swords, WKC's main asset. WKC established its own etching plant, and the forge roller was running again. The first major orders came from the United States, especially from the Navy and the Marine Corps.
At the end of the 1980's a new era began for WKC when Marga Willms, Hans Kolpling's lifelong friend, took over the company. Thereafter the company went to Joachim Willms, a businessman born in Solingen. Joachim Willms undertook large investments in the buildings and the equipment, making future growth secure for WKC. The most recent chapter of the traditional company WKC begins in 1995 when André Willms joined the company. WKC was able to widen its market share continuously and won additional customers worldwide. Today WKC delivers to more than 40 different countries and produces more than 300 sword types. Despite this growth, WKC still uses the traditional production process. Twenty-five skilled specialists, including the last "Schwertfeger", "Schwertschleifer" and "Damaszierer", provide an unchallenged quality from the sword blade to the scabbard. An outstanding quality of WKC's sword is the blade etching that is especially deep and detailed, and is done by hand. This skill remains largely unchanged for over a hundred years, which makes the blade one of the best in the world. Since the end of the 1990's the name WKC stands not only for unsurpassed quality swords, but today WKC is also known as a reliable supplier of various uniform accessories such as sword knots, buttons, cords, epaulettes and much more.
WKC is certified according to DIN ISO 9002 since March 2000.
You can find more information about WKC and the history of Solingen in our books.
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