Thanks to a deed that has been preserved through the centuries, we can trace the beginnings with certainty: on 27 February 1584, the Duke of Brunswick authorised the operation of a paper mill at Relliehausen in the Solling hills. Papermaker Merten Spieß, beneficiary of the ducal authorisation, set to work and wrote the first chapter of a success story that continues to this day.
At that time, sheets of foolscap paper were particularly sought-after for official documents of all kinds. However, Merten Spieß and his successors must have had a special knack for quality and the requirements of the market, since it is hard to explain why this particular factory outlasted all the other paper mills in the vicinity that were established after it.
For almost 200 years, the business now known as Hahnemühle remained in family ownership. Then, in 1769, it was purchased by Jacob Andrae from Osterode. More than 100 years go by before Carl Hahne, from Hanover, became the owner in 1886. Hahne named the business after himself and expanded it to approximately its current size. Paper machines arrive. By this time, the product range had been also been expanded: high-quality art paper was an important element of the portfolio.
At the start of the 20th century, the Düren-based company Schleicher & Schuell acquired shares in Hahnemühle and became the sole owner in 1927. Schleicher & Schuell brought valuable knowledge about the production of premium filter papers and moved the entire production facility to Dassel in the 1940s.
The development of the finest art papers for inkjet printing at the end of the 1990s brings us to the most recent chapter of the company’s history. These papers, known as the ‘Digital FineArt Collection’, allow flawless printing of photos and reproductions on paper with peerless durability and feel. Demand for this paper has multiplied over the past 20 years and today Hahnemühle is a global market leader in the fine art inkjet paper segment.
Hahnemühle has operated as an independent company again since 2004, with its separation from the Schleicher & Schuell group. With almost 200 employees around the world and subsidiaries in the UK, France, the US and China, the company occupies an optimal position on the global market. The product portfolio comprises the divisions of FineArt, Digital FineArt and Filtration. In all three areas, Hahnemühle boasts outstanding expertise and formulas, collected and refined over decades and even centuries.
‘A company that has existed for 435 years has innovation in its genes; otherwise, it would not have survived for so long,’ says Jan Wölfle, who was appointed Managing Director of Hahnemühle at the beginning of the year. He continues: ‘I have only been here only a short time, but I have already assimilated this company’s ability to reinvent itself again and again. Our paper experts find the right answer to every trend in the art paper market or new development in the field of fine art printing. The diversity of paper is simply fascinating. Just as it has in previous centuries, Hahnemühle will continue to discover new business areas and achieve success on the market.’
Hahnemühle produces paper since 1584 and is the oldest German paper mill for artist papers. Besides traditional artist papers digital FineArt papers for inkjet prints are part of the portfolio today. The development and manufacture of technical specialty papers for industrial and research is another priority. Headquartered in Dassel and with offices in the UK, France, USA and China, Hahnemühle employs around 200 people.