Mathias Bäuerle

My dad taught me everything I know. Unfortunately, he didn’t teach me everything he knows.
Al Unser

Mathias Bäuerle (1838-1916)
Mathias Bäuerle (1838-1916)

In 1903, the German clock manufacturer from Schwarzwäld—Bäuerle Uhrenfabrik (Clock Factory), Sankt Georgen, launched his adding machine Peerless, which soon became quite popular and won gold medals at exhibitions in St. Louis (World’s Fair of 1904), Liège (1905), and Milan (1906).

The founder of the company—Mathias Bäuerle (1838-1916) from St. Georgen was in clockmaker business from 1863, when he founded a small workshop, which later evolved to Uhrenfabrik St. Georgen. Initially the company manufactured home, wall clocks with wooden boards, but later specialized in all types of clocks. By 1900 the company’s clocks received several awards and the monthly production reached over 5000 watches and clocks, mainly for export.

Mathias Bäuerle had four sons—Tobias, Fridolin, Christian and Mathias, and at least three of them, Christian, Tobias, and Mathias, were involved in his father’s business. Namely Tobias Bäuerle was the main driving force behind the new machine and later he founded his own company—Tobias Bäuerle GMBH, to continue the traditional family business with clocks and the new one—calculating machines.

From 1918 the company worked together with the Austrian company Herzstark and Co., the manufacturer of Austria calculating machine. Bäuerle produces the raw works, Herzstark added a keyboard, automatic divider device and motor drive.

The company was in the business with calculating machines until 1964, producing the Peerless (and modifications Peerless Rapid, with a special gear for multiplication, and Peerless Baby, a portable version) and Badenia (many models) calculating machines, and still exists, but now is manufacturing folding and inserting systems.

Peerless from 1904 with a cast iron case
Peerless from 1904 with a cast iron case

Peerless and Badenia machines are based on the stepped drum mechanism of Gottfried Leibniz and the first Peerless is almost the same as the machines of Thomas de Colmar and Arthur Burkhardt, but Tobias Bäuerle immediately began the development of improvements.

The original Peerless from 1903 was a slider model in wooden box. Dimensions (LxWxH): 34 x 18 x 12 cm (base), weight 6 kg. The second model from next year (see the photo below) was with a cast iron case.

The Peerless Rapid model (see the photo below), introduced in 1907, featured an auxiliary device (called rapid), managed by a crank, to speed up the multiplication: one could set the multiplicand by the moving of the crank, so that only one revolution of the main (right) crank was necessary for multiplication. This mechanism simplified multiplication of large numbers, but introduced high effort and stress into the mechanics.

Peerless Rapid model with a cast iron frame
Peerless Rapid model with a cast iron frame

In 1908 was introduced a duplex Peerless with two counters. In 1910 were introduced an adjustable control station, reset key and a motor drive. In 1915 a keyboard input mechanism was developed.

The Peerless Baby (see the photo below) was a portable model. Dimensions are 32 x 16 x 9 cm, weight 4.5 kg.

Peerless Baby model
Peerless Baby model

In 1921 was launched the model Badenia, with the same internal mechanism, but with keyboard input mechanism, instead of sliders.

Many models of Badenia (and EMBEE Badenia) were produced until 1964, when the production of mechanical calculating machines was stopped.

One of the last models of Badenia, VARE-17, in production 1962-1964
One of the last models of Badenia, VARE-17, in production 1962-1964

Biography of Mathias Bäuerle

Mathias (Matthias) Bäuerle was born on Friday, 25 October 1838 in Stockwald, a village near Sankt Georgen, Schwarzwald, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. He was a son of the watchmaker Tobias Bäuerle (1812-1850) and Barbara Kammerer-Bäuerle (1814-1888). Barbara (born 2 Nov. 1814 to Matthias Kammerer, a watchmaker, and Elisabetha Kieninger-Kammerer) married Tobias Bäuerle on 15 Aug. 1837 and they had seven children (two of them died in infancy).

Tobias Bäuerle (Baeuerle) was born on 28 March 1812 in Stockwald, Sankt Georgen, as a son of the watchmaker Philipp Jakob Bäuerle (1770-1837) and Barbera Hettich (1771-1816). Philipp Jakob was a brother of Matthias Bäuerle (1762-1816), the father of the watchmaker Johann Georg Bäuerle.

Tobias Bäuerle died only 38 years old on 8 May 1850 in Stockwald, Sankt Georgen, from a lung disease that made him bedridden and unable to work two years before his death. Barbara and children were completely broken and forced to sell the entire household. The boys Matthias, Tobias and Christian were hired as herdsmen.

Tobias Bäuerle (1863-1933), the son of Mathias Bäuerle
Tobias Bäuerle (1863-1933), the son of Mathias Bäuerle

Mathias was too young when his father died, so he didn’t manage to learn the watchmaking trade from him, thus he went to his mother’s family in Stockwald (Barbara’s father Matthias Kammerer (1784-1869) and brother Matthias Kammerer (1817-1898), were also watchmakers), and learned watchmaking there. After the necessary time as a journeyman, Mathias married and soon (in 1863) established his own business and founded a watchmaker’s workshop in a small house in Ursprung bei Peterzell near Sankt Georgen. The clock factory Uhrenfabrik Sankt Georgen later developed from this small workshop. His brother Tobias Bäuerle (1 Mar 1841-26 Feb 1914), later founded the Tobias T. Bäuerle & Söhne watch factory. Interestingly, Tobias Bäuerle also had two sons (Christian and Tobias Bäuerle Jr.), who inherited his business.

Mathias Bäuerle married his cousin Ana Dorothea Kammerer (b. 1842) on 27 February 1860 in Sankt Georgen. From this marriage, 14 children were born, at least four of them were sons—Tobias, Fridolin, Christian and Mathias, and at least three of them, Christian (1860-1918), Tobias (1863-1933) and Mathias (1865-1935) were involved in his father’s business. Tobias Bäuerle (Junior) was the most business oriented among them and after the death of his father he continued the traditional family business with clocks and the new one—calculating machines.

Matthias Bäuerle died on Sunday, 13 February 1916, in Stockwald, Sankt Georgen, at the age of 77.