(6. November 1814, Unter Embrach — 15. December 1867,
Ganz, - his father was a protestant teacher
of cantors – was born in Unter Embrach, in Switzerland. He
had 8 brothers, lost his mother at the age of ten. Because
of this at the age of 15 he was already studying carpentry,
then became a foundry apprentice in Zurich. He started his
travels at the age of 20, he worked in various factories and
towns in Germany, France, Austria and Italy. He arrived to
Pest in the August of 1841. Here he took part in the making
of a steam mill for the Joseph Rolling Mill Company. Soon
he became “first casting master” in the casting section of
the mill, than later the leader of the casting section and
the machine recovery workshop. In 1843, during casting liquid
iron squirted in his eye. According to records, he said: “One
eye is lost, but casting was successful.” Ganz received a
share of the mill’s profit, in 1844 he managed to buy a house
with some land for 4500 forints at Buda. He started working
at his own iron foundry with 7 assistants. Already in 1845
he extended his foundry by buying the neighboring allotment
and building a cupola furnace. Even in the first year he was
gaining profit, and the plant was constantly growing. During
the War of Independence in 1848-49, the foundry made 10 cannons
and cannonballs for the Hungarian army, because of this in
October 1849, the Austrian Military Tribunal sentenced the
Swiss citizen Abraham Ganz for 6 weeks of custody. He didn’t
have to go to prison though.
Ganz recognized, that in order to make his company successful,
he needed products that could be manufactured in mass.
In 1846, with the construction of the Pest-Vac railway line,
building of the Hungarian railway system began. This time
in Europe, railway wheels that had spokes and tyres of wrought
iron were in use. But in England and in the United States,
there was another process in use that created a better wheel,
the process of iron chilling invented by John Burn in 1812.
Wheels made like this were harder and more resistant to abrasion.
Ganz was able to make wheels like that in 1853, but already
in 1856 he got copyright protection for the new improved process
of iron chilling using antimony, which “makes any part or
the whole surface hard as steel”. This is how Ganz described
“To create perfectly hard casting, so called chilled iron
casting, we use antimony. We grind antimony until it turns
into fine powder, and make paint or mass of it. We spread
it all over the inner side of the casting form, then after
it dried, we combine the forms. Finally we heat it to 100
Celsius, and cast the iron into the form.
As a result, at the places where we used antimony, after hardening
we get a layer as hard as glass. The thickness of the layer
could be 2,3 or 4 millimeters, depending on the thickness
of the antimony layer used. That is why I found antimony the
best material to create perfect chilled iron…”
Until 1867 he received more
copyrights too. Between 1853-66, the factory sold 86 074 chilled
iron railway wheels to 59 railway companies. On the 23rd November
1867 the 100 000th chilled iron wheel was made. Ganz also
bought a copyright from England, for making railway crossing
points. Of course he improved this as well, he got copyright
protection for two more inventions in 1861 and in 1865. Between
1860-66 he sold 6293 railway crossing points.
Besides railway companies,
he also manufactured iron parts of bridges (amongst the parts
of the Szeged bridge there were parts weighing 5 tons), and
corn milling rolls for the milling industry. With this product,
the factory under the leadership of Andras Mechwart had results
The number of employees at
the Ganz factory in 1854 was 60, 106 in 1857, and in 1867
it was 371. The daily production was around 2-3 tons (including
Products of the factory received the following awards: 3 bronze
medals of the Paris World’s Fair, bronze medal of the London
World’s Fair in 1862, silver medal of the Industrial Exhibition
of Switzerland in 1867.
Abraham Ganz became freeman
of Pest in 1863. On the occasion of making the 100 000th railway
wheel, he held a dinner party for all his employees and their
family members. He spent a lot for social purposes, and had
regular payments for his hometown in Switzerland as well.
In his factory an there was an unrivalled pension and medical
welfare system was functioning.
He died in 1867, his grave can be found at the Kerepesi cemetery.