On July 27, 1873 Christian Schmidt and Heinrich Stoll took over a small workshop for the manufacture of knitting machines, in the town of Riedlingen on the River Danube.
Christian Gottlob Schmidt was born on August 6, 1844 in Bietigheim/Enz; his father was a teacher. In 1860 he completed an apprenticeship as a mechanical fitter in Urach, and on October 17, 1875 married Luise Katharina Banzhaf, born on February 22, 1851 and daughter of a butcher, farmer and timber dealer in Illingen. Her brother, Gottlob Banzhaf, later contributed decisively to the progress of the NSU Werke for several decades. On August 19, 1876 the couple’s only son Karl August was born in Riedlingen.
Christian Schmidt and Heinrich Stoll concluded an agreement with regard to their new business activity on July 27, 1873. In 1875 the “Mechanische Werkstatt von Schmidt & Stoll” applied for its first patent. At the end of 1876, however, after three years of successful cooperation, the two ongoing industrialists went their separate ways. Stoll moved to Reutlingen and established the Heinrich Stoll & Co. knitting machine factory; Schmidt, as proprietor of a “mechanical workshop in particular for knitting machines”, remained a strong competitor for Stoll, until moving to Neckarsulm in 1880.
At that time, Schmidt’s workshop employed 8 - 10 people, with commercial matters looked after by Gottlob Banzhaf. The small building “on the island” contained lathes, other machine tools and the smith’s hearth on the ground floor, with offices a floor higher and a storeroom under the roof. Before long, conditions became too cramped and the available water power was unable to provide the necessary production capacity. Schmidt began to look for new premises, and soon heard that the old, dilapidated ‘Brunnersche’ saw and plaster mill was for sale.
On April 1, 1880 Christian Schmidt purchased this property for the sum of 18,000 Marks. The transaction was negotiated by one of his customers, the Neckarsulm textile manufacturer and businessman Simon Diemer (there is still a Diemer fashion store in Neckarsulm) who at that time employed approximately 50 women and girls to sew and knit for him. Conversion and re-equipment of the building took only three months, so that the move from Riedlingen to Neckarsulm was able to take place at the end of June. Six workers and the factory manager also made the move. Schmidt had retained most of the machinery when he and Stoll parted company. Banzhaf organised the removal work. In 1881, knitting machines from Neckarsulm were granted an award at an exhibition in Stuttgart.
Christian Schmidt died in Neckarsulm of a liver disease on February 24, 1884 at the early age of 39.
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