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Story 111 – 1781 – Products

Inconspicuous gem in the company’s history

The bell book from the years 1781 to 1869

The Wieland archive contains a document that dates back far into the time before the company was founded: the bell book of Philipp Jakob Wieland's predecessor Thomas Frauenlob. It provides an insight into the commercial side of the business – and into Wieland's professional work in this field as well.

When Philipp Jakob Wieland took over his uncle Thomas Frauenlob's bell foundry in 1820, he not only took over the equipment and materials, but also an inconspicuous blue notebook, about DIN A4 in size, whose hand-written label identifies it as a "Glocken Buch" (bell book). On the first pages it also contains handwritten notes and sketches on geometrical shapes and angle calculations.

The true historical value of this booklet only becomes clear after further turning the pages. There it says in fine calligraphic writing: "Bell book of Thomas Frauenlob, bell founder in Ulm anno 1781" In less elaborate writing, the writer added: "to write other important things in this book as well".

These are mainly recalculations of bell orders. At irregular intervals – and probably not without gaps - Frauenlob recorded material weights, weights of finished bells, partial and final payments from his clients and occasionally the delivery date. The bell weight seems to be the main basis for pricing.

Philipp Jakob Wieland's entries from 1820 onwards quickly reveal why he became more successful than his uncle: the young entrepreneur crossed out his predecessor's last notes, which overlapped the takeover period, with a thick line and began a new numbering system for his bells, starting at 1. But above all: in best accountant's manner, he meticulously compared his "self costs" with his income in his calculations, then deducts them from the income and in this way receives his gross profit under the heading "remains for my business". In the case of bells for the municipality of Laupheim, for example, this amounts to 39 Guilders, and with an order value of 387 Guilders this corresponds to a return on sales of 10 percent.

The bell book was still kept until 1869 – but probably for nostalgic reasons. For Philipp Jakob Wieland kept his accounts in voluminous, much more detailed "Cash books" from as early as 1822. As one of the oldest surviving documents from Wieland's history, however, it clearly shows the reasons for the company's success to this day.

Extract bell book

Presumably Thomas Frauenlob, who kept the bell book from 1781, made these sketches himself. Nevertheless, the book contains mainly price and profit calculations.

Extract bell book

This entry from February 1820, shortly before the transfer of the bell foundry to Philipp Jakob Wieland, was also crossed out without further ado – the new owner continued the book in his own way.