Electric Shaver Museum, Dual exhibition

This is the no-frames/text-only version of the Dual exhibition of the Electric Shaver Museum: a history of the company, its shavers and a biography of Christian Steidinger. To see the photographs in this exhibition, or to visit E|S|M's other exhibitions click here (unless forced, not available for mobile devices with a screenwidth less than 640 pixels).

The Steidinger familyThe Steidinger Bros.The Dual motorRecord-playersDual nowadaysElrasorDry shaversChristian SteidingerSources/further readingThanks to

The Steidinger family
Already in the 18th and 19th century the Steidinger family of St. Georgen manufactured parts for the clockmaking industry at home in the Black Forest in southwest Germany. The Steidingers, however, also made their name as toolmakers for this industry, for example with a machine for boring hollow spindles.
In 1860 Christian Steidinger married; in the same year he started a clockparts- and toolmaking industry at St. Georgen. His first son Josef was born in 1862. Another son, Christian II, was born in 1873. Both sons were trained in instrument making and mechanical engineering in their father's workshop. Both Josef and Christian II started their own business, at first independent from each other.

The Steidinger Bros.
In 1900 Christian Steidinger II built himself a house with a workshop at St. Georgen. Here he established his own business with 8 employees to manufacture parts for clocks, watches and hydrometers. Around the same year his brother Josef Steidinger had started a firm with about the same products. In 1906 the brothers decided to merge their companies and on 1 February 1907 the company "Gebrüder Steidinger, Fabrik für Feinmechanik" (Steidinger Bros., factory for precision engineering products) was established. The company made wind-up motors for phonographs and other products and this brought great success after the 1908 Spring Fair of Leipzig. In 1910 the company produced 5,000 motors a month with 60 employees. The co-operation of the brothers, however, did not last long. In 1911, after differences of opinion, Josef left the company to start his own firm called "Perpetuum". Christian Steidinger continued the Steidinger Bros. company under the same name.

The Dual motor
Christian Steidinger's Steidinger Bros. company was very successful in the wind-up motor manufacturing business. During the first World War (1914-1918) nearly all workers were drafted into military service, but the women and some older employees kept the company going. Production also changed to war products like horseshoe nails and parts for rifles. After the war the production of wind-up motors was taken up again. At the end of the 1920's a new age dawned for the company with the development of the so-called Dual-motor. The Dual-motor combines a wind-up motor and an electric motor to a drive-unit, which had the advantage that the phonograph could also be used in places where electricity was not available. Emil Knecht, from 1921 sales representative for the company in Berlin, but also a gifted engineer, was the inventor of the motor. In 1928 Steidinger Bros. produced 10,000 phonograph motors a month.

In the early 1930's an important innovation was the production of the so-called "pick-up", a magnetic device which made it possible to reproduce the sound of a record over a radio-set. From now on Steidinger Bros. manufactured complete so-called phono-chassis to build in: a motor with a rotating table and a pick-up arm plus an automatic switch-off feature. World War II interrupted the growth of the firm, but immediately after the war the company started the production of record-players again. As a new feature a record-changer was added: a mechanism to play more records one after another. In 1950 the company had 400 employees and 200,000 record-players were manufactured that year. During its heyday the company employed about 3,500 people (1975). Well-known record-players were for example model 1009 (the first HiFi record-player with a record-changer, 1963) and 701 (the first European HiFi record-player with electronic direct-drive, 1973).

Dual now
The company, since the 1950's called Dual GmbH, was successful with its record-players and other HiFi-equipment, but at the end of the 1970's Dual had a hard time because of the fierce Japanese competition. In 1981 the company went bankrupt, but the employees and the customers (retailers) kept the company going for a while. The take-over of Dual by the French company Thomson-Brandt (1982) meant Dual's salvation. In 1988 Dual was bought by the company Schneider Rundfunkwerke AG, a German firm in consumer-electronics. In 1889 Schneider was established by Felix Schneider as a manufacturer of wooden washing machines; from the 1950s the company also manufactured counters for bars and shops and in the 1960s the production of HiFi-cabinets was the bridge to radio's and record-players. Schneider has gone bankrupt in 2002, and it is not clear whether the Dual company still exists and is still manufacturing record-players. The last years the production facilities were still at St. Georgen, but the company's offices were integrated in the Schneider headquarters at Türkheim (Black Forest, Germany). The rights to use the Dual brand have been sold to the German chain of stores Karstadt, but Karstadt does not sell record-players. Since Dual's website does not show up anymore, it looks like the final curtain has fallen for Dual.

In the 1930's the first electric dryshavers came on the market, but there was also another development: the electrification of safety razors. Siemens, an important German manufacturer of electronic products, launched an electric vibrating razor in 1932. Steidinger Bros. came one or two years later with its electric safetyrazor, called Elrasor. It is not certain whether Steidinger manufactured all parts of this razor itself. The company sold a Pandora branded razorblade sharpener with it. At the end of the 1930's, when Steidinger Bros. was forced to change its activities to war products, the razor was taken off the market. After the war it was not brought back, but the company's interest in shaving still existed and this resulted in the marketing of two types of electric dryshavers during the 1950's and 1960's.

Dry shavers
The first (in 1955) was Dual ER (Model 41A - type B), a model with an oscillating motor (like Braun), and a special foil-and-trimmer shaving system. The Braun company had exclusive rights for a foil shaving system (at least in Germany), but in 1955 a German court declared part of this claim invalid, and this opened a possibility for other manufacturers to use foil-systems. Dual's shaving-system was different from the one Braun used. In the knife-block the bottom and sides form a frame in which six little blades are suspended, supported by six separate mini-springs. Due to this construction Dual's foil was smaller than the one in Braun's shaving system. Next to the foil there was a trimmer, which made it possible to shave straight sideburns.
In the 1960's Dual brought an updated model with a modern look and a shaving system with eight blades instead of six, the Dual 2000. Although the shavers shaved well and the salesfigures were rather good, they were not a commercial success for Dual because of the high marketing costs. At the end of the 1960's the then commercial manager of Dual, Oskar Steidinger, decided to stop marketing shavers and concentrate on the much more successful record-player and HiFi-business.

Christian Steidinger II
Christian Steidinger II was born in St. Georgen (Black Forest, Germany) in 1873. He grew up in the precision engineering business of his father, and started his own company in 1900. From 1907 this company was called "Gebrüder Steidinger, Fabrik für Feinmechanik". In 1933 Christian Steidinger withdrew from his company for health reasons. His sons took over the management of the company. Christian Steidinger II died in 1937.

Sources / further reading
Frank Gnegel, Bart Ab, DuMont, Köln (DE) 1995
Andreas Ortmann, Plattenspieler, in: Trödler (DE), August 2000

Thanks to
Wolfgang Haas, Stadtverwaltung St. Georgen

Electric Shaver Museum
Please note that this is the no-frames/text-only version of E|S|M's Dual exhibition. To see the photographs in this exhibition, or to see E|S|M's other exhibitions click here (unless forced, not available for mobile devices with a screenwidth less than 640 pixels).
Texts, photographs and illustrations © 1999-2011 Peter de Weijer (E|S|M), unless indicated otherwise. Noncommercial use of the information on this site is permitted provided the source is stated expressly.

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