vormals Hengstenberg & Co.

1906 - 1969


The Anker-Werke AG  was a German manufacturer of sewing machines, cash registers, accounting machines, small motorcycles and bicycles, located in the East Westphalian city of Bielefeld. 

Carl Schmidt, co-founder and co-owner of the sewing machine factory " Dürkopp & Co. " since 1867.

In 1876 Carl Schmidt set up on his own producing sewing machines  specialising in the production of "Circular-Elastique" sewing machines for shoemaking and later on long bobbin and shuttle sewing machines. The company was called  Bielefelder Nähmaschinen Fabrik Carl Schmidt with 70 employees and a 16 horsepower steam engine.

In July 1878 Carl Schmidt took up Hugo Hengstenberg and the company was renamed Bielefelder Nähmaschinenfabrik Carl Schmidt & Hengstenberg

In 1883 Carl Schmidt left the company. 

In 1884, Robert Wittenstein (as partner) and Heinrich Wittler (as new designer),  joined the company under the new name of:                                              Bielefelder Nähmaschinenfabrik Hengstenberg & Co.

In 1894 the company started to produce bicycles as sales were stagnating. The company renamed itself “Bielefelder Nähmaschinen und Fahrrad Fabrik Hengstenberg & Co.”. The brand name Anker appeared on a sewing machine for the first time this year – “Anker-Westfalia I”.

In the middle of 1895, the company was converted into a stock corporation with the name Bielefelder Nähmaschinen und Fahrrad Fabrik A.G. vormals HENGSTENBERG & Co.

1905 Advertisement
1905 Advertisement


In 1900 the company also began to manufacture cash registersThe first patent for a cash register was acquired this year.

In 1901 Otto Kramer became commercial director  and sole director just a few months later. Sewing machine and bicycle production became a success after a boom and the company expanded.

In 1905 financial year, which ended on 31 August 1906, the total turnover increased by more than 20% over the previous year, although the company was not always in a position to carry out the orders received on time.

In 1906, since there were four factories with similar name in Bielefeld, the company was renamed "Anker-Werke AG" vorm. Hengstenberg & Co., which was accompanied by an increase of capital. The name Anker was already used for sewing machines and for cycles. The trademark of the company, the anchor, became an integral part of the name also used for all products.

1911 Advertisement
1911 Advertisement


In 1911 the company employed 1.200 workers. TS sewing machine models were still in production as Anker B and Anker Med.

In 1912 the company began to produced office machinery as well as sewing machines, bicycles and cash registers.

On 30 August 1913 a special anniversary was held at the factory Anker Werke A.G. Bielefeld, which is the completion of the one millionth sewing machine. The machine itself was handed over to Mr. Otto Kramer in the presence of the oldest masters, to the permanent memory of his private use.


In 1915 the company was renamed to become “Anker-Werke AG”. Sales of cash registers grows to 50% of total income and for the first time this figure exceeds revenue from the other divisions.

1915 Advertisement
1915 Advertisement


In 1924 the company employed 1.400 workers. 


extract from a 1927 german article:

35 years ago, the late Mr. Hugo Rempel had the idea to create a school for the training of sewing machine mechanics.

As the idea was shattered, long years were not heard of the intention, and it was only in the years after the war, when a shortage of trained mechanics made itself felt, that the idea of thought reappeared again in the spring of 1924.

The four Bielefeld sewing machine factories: Anker-Werke A.G., Baer & Rempel, Dürkopp-Werke A.G. and Koch's Adler Nähmaschinenwerke A.G. , as well as the Reichsverband Deutscher Mechaniker and the Association of German Sewing Machine Dealers, have, with the application of large, one - off means and annual subsidies to support the school, the sewing machine trade and the mechanics trade, a quite extraordinary merit.

In 1930 the company employed 2.000 workers. 

1935 with the construction of Geschosshülsen recording the armament production.

The number of employees rose from 1920 to 1938 to more than double. At this time, Anker was also the largest manufacturer of bicycles and office machines in Europe. 


With the end of the war  the work, then beginning with 30 employees Approval for the construction of bicycles and sewing machines, etc..

The enterprise was rebuilt from 1948 on the old location in Bielefeld. The main business areas were the mechanical registering coaches built from 1900 as well as the booking machines built from 1912 onwards. The resumed production of sewing machines as well as driving and motorcycles has been outsourced. 

In 1948 the company gave up bicycle production to concentrate their efforts on office machine and cash register production. 

In 1950's  the economic miracle started for ANKER; a new production program, the launch of the employee newsletter “Die Ankerkette” and the purchase of the “Anker-Burg”.

In 1958 a subsidiary company was formed called Anker Nähmaschinen A.G.

In 1959 Anker-Nähmaschinen AG merged with Phoenix-Nähmaschinen A.G.

In  1965/66 the company was renamed “ADS – Anker-Data-Systeme”. The new name reflected the start of the electronic age.


In 1969 sewing machine production at the factory ceased.

The company celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1976, and the company’s Managing Board filed for bankruptcy – ANKER failed to make the transition to electronic cash desk systems. In the same year Kurt Vorlop bought up the company’s assets. He continued the group’s customer service activities, and ADS-ANKER was formed.







Peter Wilhelm

Alte Nähmaschinen

Namen – Daten – Fakten. 1. Auflage. Mecke, Duderstadt 1987

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