Burgstrasse 88, Bockenheim, Frankfurt am Main

1863 - 1975

Around 1868: Joseph Wertheim, sewing machine factory, Berger Str. 2, Gl. Line 15. Address and Business Manual of Frankfurt aM (1868/69).

In Bockenheim since 1868; Foundry in Bonames. 1886: 7.800 sqm workshops and magazines.

Factory complex between Eichwald, Petterweil, Germania and Burgstrasse.

The founder, Joseph Wertheim (1804-1899), was a city councilor in Frankfurt and co-founder of the "Aktienbaugesellschaft für kleine Wohnung".

After 1900: "German sewing machine factory, formerly J. Wertheim", so also referred to in 1873 (Festschrift IHK Frankfurt, around 1911).

Company logo a dwarf with hammer.

Later a public limited company capital 1.5 million marks.

March 20, 1834. Birth of Joseph Wertheim in Rotenburg an der Fulda as the fifth child of Leiser Wertheim and his wife Merle born. Hess (a Jewish family)

April 1851. Joseph Wertheim begins an apprenticeship as a mechanic with the court mechanic and mint master Friedrich Wilhelm Breithaupt & Sohn in Kassel and becomes familiar with the production of mathematical, physical and optical instruments.

April 1854. After completing his apprenticeship at Breithaupt, Joseph Wertheim worked for a short time in his parents' linen and yarn factory in Rotenburg (Fulda).

May 1854. Joseph Wertheim emigrates to the USA with his friend, the shoemaker's apprentice Lukas Werthan. In New York City, a tobacco merchant found his first job. - Later he works in the Singer sewing machine factory. [Many sources cite the sewing machine factory "Wheeler & Wilson" as an employer - a company for which Wertheim took over from 1862 onwards.

Mid-1858. Joseph Wertheim returns to Rotenburg (Fulda) from the United States, where, after renewed citizenship (end of 1858), he takes over the business management of his parents' linen and yarn factory.

Late 1861. Joseph Wertheim moves from Rotenburg (Fulda) to Frankfurt aM, Hanauer Landstr. 5, to where his later wife's family, Rosalie Ballin, already lives. Wertheim acts as a sales representative for linen goods because he cannot found a factory without Frankfurt citizenship.

May 5, 1862. The general agent of the American "Wheeler & Wilson", Frank Armstrong, appoints J. Wertheim as general agent in southern Germany for sewing machines of this manufacturer. Wertheim's business premises are in the house of his father-in-law David Ballin, Fahrgasse 108 (a side street of the Zeil). On the same day a joint newspaper advertisement for "Wheeler & Wilson's Sewing Machines" appears.

May 15, 1862. Joseph Wertheim marries Rosalie Ballin. From this marriage ten children emerge from 1863 to 1876.

September 1862. Joseph Wertheim briefly sets up the house of the banker LA Hahn, line 35, a sales room for "Wheeler & Wilson" sewing machines.

December 14, 1862. Joseph Wertheim's sales office for "Wheeler & Wilson" sewing machines moves to larger premises in Zeil 26 (house of the effects bank, opposite the Konstablerwache). (Advertisement from December 14, 1862). Soon he will rent rooms in the building of the "Reichskrone" inn on Grosse Friedberger Str. 7, where he will produce spare parts.

Late 1863. Joseph Wertheim sets up his first sewing machine factory in Hanau in the house of the gold worker and dance teacher Karl Runkel at Schloßgasse 7. The mechanic Louis Ochs takes over.

August 1864. The American sewing machine factory "Wheeler & Wilson" takes over the general agency for southern Germany from Joseph Wertheim, since he operated his sewing machine factory with Luis Ochs in Hanau at the end of 1863 and the sales figures of the American machines decreased.

September 29, 1865. The anniversary of the 1.000th sewing machine built is celebrated.

June 13, 1867. Birth of Paul Wertheim, son of Joseph Wertheim.

1868. Initially operated only as a trade, after moving to the factory in Bockenheim at Burgstrasse 58, the production of sewing machines began.

1873. Joseph Wertheim builds his house on the corner of Arnsburger Strasse 20 / Habsburgerallee (later: Café Wiens).

around 1873. Joseph Wertheim's sewing machine factory opens a branch in Barcelona.

May 6, 1873. Conversion into the "Aktiengesellschaft Deutsche Sewing Machine Factory by Jos. Wertheim".

1875. Hugo Wertheim (1854-1919) from Rotenburg-Lispenhausen emigrated to Melbourne, Australia, where he initially worked as a wholesaler for sewing machines from the production of his uncle Joseph Wertheim. In 1908 he founded the Wertheim piano factory in Melbourne-Richmond, which in the following decades built around 20.000 pianos.

1875. Samuel Guckenheimer and Carl Wettach are appointed managing directors.

July 27, 1877. Joseph Wertheim becomes city councilor of the Democratic Party (until the end of 1882 and again from 1884 to 1890) in Frankfurt.

1883. The annual production is 35.000 sewing machines.

May 31, 1883. In the eastern factory building, in which the joinery, foundry, part of the turning shop and the painting workshop are located, a fire breaks out at noon. Due to the strong east wind, the fire also spreads to the western building; Roof trusses and ceilings collapse and approx. 600 sewing machines are destroyed. The connection with the machine tools remains intact. The cause is vmtl. negligent handling of fire in the paint shop. The damage is covered by insurance.

1885. Josef Wertheim creates a meeting point for the residents of the workers' settlement in the Burgstraße 81 in the Burgblock and establishes a foundation with 70.000 Marks of foundation capital. A "workers' library" is being set up from the money. Later, parts of the "Joseph Wertheim House" will be handed over to non-profit organizations. The society for welfare institutions runs a people's kitchen there, there are daycare centers and regular lectures by the "Committee for Popular Lectures".

1895. 40.000 sewing machines are built each year.

1897. Paul Wertheim becomes Carnival Prince of the Bornheim Carnival Society in 1901, which costs 40,000 marks.

March 18, 1899. Joseph Wertheim dies in Nice, where he lives because of his thyroid disease.

March 30, 1899. Joseph Wertheim's ashes are buried in the Bornheim cemetery.

1907. Purchase of a 30.000 sqm site in the Bonames district of Frankfurt to build a foundry.

1908. Opening of the iron foundry in Frankfurt-Bonames1908The millionth sewing machine is built.

1911. Construction of the foundry on Frankfurter Berg [lt. http://www.frankfurt.de - vmtl. not applicable]

May 1, 1912. Fire in the new parts magazine1918So far, around 1.5 million sewing machines have been manufactured1920Conversion of the Joseph Wertheim sewing machine branch in Barcelona to the "Rapida"1932The sewing machine production by Jos. Wertheim is relocated to Barcelona, where they will be integrated into the "Rapida SA" factory, which is managed by Carlos Vallin (aka Karl Wertheim).1936The factory building in Bornheim is demolished. Residential houses are being built there.04.07.1938When Paul Wertheim (on the company's management board) learns that he should be taken away, he shoots himself in the Ostpark in Frankfurt to avoid the Holocaust.

1940. The Teves company takes over the foundry on Frankfurter Berg1943The Olivetti Group takes over "Rapida SA" in Barcelona (until 1932 sewing machine production by Jos. Wertheim in Frankfurt)1975The former branch of the sewing machine factory of Joseph Wertheim in Barcelona "Rapida" (since 1943 to Olivetti) until 1975 built sewing machines under the name "Wertheim".

August 27, 2007. The stone tablet removed by the Nazis with the inscription: "Jos. Wertheim'sches Vereinshaus" is solemnly reapplied by the involvement of the citizens' association and the promotional group historic Bornheim in the presence of the great-grandnephew Wertheim, Carlos Guilliard. The memory of an important family of entrepreneurs and founders is preserved. - In 1885, Wertheim created a meeting point for the residents of the workers' settlement in the house and provided it with 70,000 marks in foundation capital. A "workers' library" was set up from the money. Courses for expectant mothers and seminars on gardening were held there. Parts of the "Joseph Wertheim House" were later handed over to non-profit organizations. The society for welfare organizations ran a folk kitchen there, there were childcare centers and regular lectures by the "Committee for Popular Lectures". Around 2007 the "ABG Frankfurt Holding Housing Association" rents apartments there.06/21/2013The Bornheim Carnival Society in 1901, together with Bernhard Ochs (City Councilor and Chairman of the Citizens 'Association and Friends of Historic Bornheim), laid a stumbling block in memory of Paul Wertheim (suicide on July 4th, 1938) in front of the Wertheims' former home in Arnsburger Str. 1.


The twenty-eight-year-old mechanic Joseph Wertheim from Rotenburg an der Fulda came to Bornheim in 1862, which was then just outside Frankfurt. He had taken over the general agency for sewing machines of the American company Wheeler & Wilson for southern Germany and founded a sales office on a site between Burgstrasse and Petterweilstrasse, north of Bornheimer Haide. He set up a workshop for the production of spare parts at Grosse Friedberger Strasse 7.

In 1863 he set up his first sewing machine factory in Hanau at Schloßgasse 7, where 1.000 sewing machines had already been produced by 1865.

At the end of 1867, he built a new factory on Burgstrasse, which started work in 1868 with 80 workers. Three years later, 300 workers were employed.

On May 6, 1873, the company was converted into the "Aktiengesellschaft Deutsche Sewing Machine Factory of Jos. Wertheim", the shares of which were only issued to employees. In the same year a branch was founded in Barcelona.

In 1883 the annual production was already 35.000 sewing machines, which were produced by 600 workers on around 350 machines. The factory premises now occupied the entire block of streets between Burgstrasse, Eichwaldstrasse, Petterweilstrasse and Germania Street with approximately 7.800 square meters. Wertheim was the largest employer in Bornheim. A significant part of the production was exported to Australia and South America. The factory had two steam boilersof 185 square meters of heating surface, two steam engines with a total of 95 horsepower, two cupola furnaces and a foundry, in which molded parts were manufactured under our own patents.

From 1875 the company was managed by two managing directors, Samuel Guckenheimer and Carl Wettach. They ran the business until 1890, when Ernst Wertheim, the eldest son of Joseph Wertheim, joined the management.

On May 31, 1883, a fire broke out in the eastern factory building, in which the carpentry, foundry, part of the turning shop and the painting workshop were located, which also spread to the western building due to the strong east wind; Roof trusses and ceilings collapsed and around 600 sewing machines were destroyed. The cause of the fire was probably negligent handling of fire in the paint shop. The damage was covered by insurance. As a result, around 1884 workers had to be laid off in 1884 due to 25% production residues.

In 1907 the sewing machine factory acquired a 30.000 square meter plot of land at Bonames station on Frankfurter Berg to build a foundry, which was opened in 1908. In the same year the one millionth sewing machine from the production of the German sewing machine factory was delivered.

An iron foundry was built in 1911.

By 1918, total production had increased to around 1.5 million sewing machines.

In 1920 the branch of the sewing machine factory of Joseph Wertheim in Barcelona, founded in 1870, was converted into "Rapida SA", which was managed by a son of Joseph Wertheim, Karl Wertheim (Carlos Vallin).

From 1932 the entire manufacturing facility in Frankfurt was dismantled and the sewing machine production moved to Barcelona. The National Socialist city administration tried to erase all memories of the German-Jewish Wertheim family.

In 1936 the factory buildings in Bornheim were demolished and 1938 residential buildings were built on the site.

In 1937 the IHK files were deleted, in 1940 the company was deleted officially.

The company Teves Maschinen und Armaturenfabrik took over the foundry on Frankfurter Berg in 1940.

In 1943 the Olivetti group took over "Rapida SA" in Barcelona, where sewing machines were still produced under the name "Wertheim" until 1975.


Sewing machines production from 1869. Beginning (1862-69 trade only)

1932 Production relocated to Spain


                                total worker

1863                              28        

1865                              90        

1868                              80  (120 employees)

1871                             300  

1874                              380        

1881                              540        

1883                               600      

1884                               450     140 layoffs after a major fire on May 31, 1883

1885                             440      

1889                              480      

1895                              500      

1900                               520      

1903                               560      

1908                               620      

1913                               580      

1914                                380      

1915                               320      

1916                               280      

1917                                 240      

1918                                220

Known models




Saturn            circa 1905








year production Total production Employee Remarks
1862 ? ? ?  
1863 ? ? 28  
1864 350 350    
1865 650 1,000 90  
1866 700 1,500    
1867 1,500 3,000    
1868 4,000 7,000   Opening of the factory in Frankfurt-Bornheim
1869 6,200 13,200    
1870 7,500 20,700    
1871 8,200 28,900 300  
1872 9,100 38,000    
1873 10,000 48,000    
1874 12,400 60,400 380  
1875 14,600 75,000    
1876 16,800 91,800    
1877 21,000 112,800    
1878 25,300 138,100    
1879 27,900 166,000    
1880 31,000 197,000    
1881 32,000 229,000 540  
1882 34,000 263,000    
1883 35,000 298,000 600 May 31, 1883 major fire
1884 26,000 324,000 450 150 layoffs
1885 25,000 349,000 440  
1886 27,000 376,000    
1887 25,000 401,000    
1888 24,000 425,000    
1889 23,000 448,000 480  
1890 20,000 468,000    
1891 21,000 489,000    
1892 20,000 509,000    
1893 18,000 527,000    
1894 18,000 545,000    
1895 18,000 563,000 500  
1896 19,000 582,000    
1897 22,000 604,000    
1898 23,000 627,000    
1899 25,000 652,000   Joseph Wertheim died
1900 26,000 678,000 520  
1901 28,000 706,000    
1902 31,000 737,000    
1903 36,000 773,000 560  
1904 45,000 818,000    
1905 52,000 870,000    
1906 50,000 920,000    
1907 51,000 971,000    
1908 54,000 1,025,000 620 Bonames iron foundry opens
1909 54,000 1,079,000    
1910 52,000 1,131,000    
1911 53,000 1,184,000    
1912 56,000 1,240,000   May 1st Brand in the new parts magazine
1913 54,000 1,294,000 580  
1914 36,000 1,330,000 380  
1915 32,000 1,362,000 320  
1916 25,000 1,387,000 280  
1917 20,000 1,407,000 240  
1918 18,000 1,425,000 220





1.  Serious born in February 2, 1863.  April 19, 1884 to Australia

2.  Sophie born in 1.2.1864.

10.1.1897 Brussels married to Hugo Wertheim Melbourne in Australia

3.  Martha born in 10.2.1866.

4.  Paul born in June 13, 1867.

August 28, 1899 on the road.

5.  Karl born in April 24, 1868.

October 25, 1888 Berlin, October 3, 1899 back to Spain on December 27, 1899 , special registration card

6.  lily born in 3.6.1869.

7.  Richard born in April 29, 1871.                                                                 3 August 1918 on special registration card

8.  Emmy born in June 21, 1872.                                                                     on June 11, 1919 to Königstein i / T on July 9, 1919, further on special map

9.  Franz born in January 15, 1874.                                                      January 29, 1900 to Brussels

10.  Elsa born in 3.12.1876.                                                                  11.6.1919 married in Gießen for 20 years

Paul Wertheim was the fourth of ten children of Joseph and Rosalie Wertheim. The father was born on March 20, 1834 in Rotenburg, Fulda and moved to Frankfurt in 1861. Here he had married his childhood sweetheart Rosalie Ballin. A new trade code in 1864 enabled him to set up his own production of sewing machines in Frankfurt. In 1868, the German sewing machine factory in Burgstrasse started production; the first large industrial settlement in Bornheim. Joseph Wertheim died in Nice in 1899. His urn was buried on March 30, 1899 in the Bornheim cemetery.

Paul Wertheim became known as the Karnevalsprinz (Carnival Prince), probably the first in Bornheim. Either in 1891 or 1897 his reign was over the fools in the Funny Village. For this he made considerable financial sacrifices, fully maintained the 50-strong prince guard during Fastnachtszeit (Mardi Gras) and also manufactured his magnificently decorated carriage from his own resources.

In 1918 he married the protestant (evangelical) Anna Höhne, born in 1870. Unlike most of his family, he did not want to emigrate, but wanted to stay in Germany. Since he was supposed to be sent to a labor camp, he shot himself in the Ostpark.

The stumbling block was initiated by Bernhard E. Ochs, city councilor and chairman of the “Bürgerverein & Förderkreis historisches Bornheim e. V. "