ÁBRAHÁM GANZ
(6. November 1814, Unter Embrach — 15. December 1867, Pest)


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 the process.
“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 famous worldwide.

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 40-50 wheels).
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.