Geography and history of Solingen
Solingen has been considered the centre of the German cutlery industry for centuries. The ore deposit, the adjacent forests as a timber supplier, as well as the geographical proximity to the trading city of Cologne, made the region around Solingen one of the world’s leading cutlery suppliers.
Solingen is part of the Bergisches Land, a low mountain region on the right side of the Rhine. The city is part of the metropolitan area of Rhineland and a member of the Rhineland Regional Association.
History of the city
Where the name Solingen comes from is still unclear, but it is certain that the name “Bergisches Land” derives from the family of the Counts De Berge.
Since the year 1200, the blade trade is evident in Solingen. The wooded area provided the pioneers of blade manufacturing with optimal raw materials to pursue their craft.
The counts of Berg were responsible for awarding manufacturing privileges. Furthermore, skillful trading enabled close connections with the city of Cologne. In the beginning, the goods from Solingen were traded under the name “Kölner Schwerter” before the name of Solingen became world-famous. The immigration of southern German and Austrian swordsmiths, together with their leading know-how, made the region around Solingen well known in the production of blades.
In 1571, the Solingen knife makers received their privileges, and from then on they had to label their products with the words ME FINEC SOLINGEN, Latin for SOLINGEN MADE ME.
But not only the sword makers, but also the related craft of scissor manufacturing was established in Solingen in the 16th century. They received their privileges in 1794.
However, Solingen was not only a production location but also an important research site. The constant refinement of blade crafting and production technology as the research of materials has always been an integral part of the region. For example, in 1811 crucible casting steel was invented here.
The city of Solingen was given a great honour in 1856: The city of knives received its city rights from Prussian city regulations.
To date, more than 90% of the German companies in the cutlery industry are based in Solingen. However, success also attracts copycats. Counterfeiting and cheap replicas are increasingly accumulated in the market. Please make sure when buying, that you buy from a trusted source and thus call genuine Solingen quality your own.
The story of DOVO and MERKUR
In 1916, Carl Dorp founded his razor factory in Wald at Solingen. As a sign of his company, he had registered a knight with a hammer and a sword. The hammer signifies a razor smith, and the sword a sign of his fabrication and perfection of his products. When the company was founded, the merchant Carl Arthur Voos was also part of the company, which led to the name Dorp & Voos.
The company was dissolved after the First World War, and Dorp remained the sole owner.
In 1942, Dorp handed over the entire company to the experienced straight razor grinder and manufacturer Fritz Bracht. After post-war years, his son-in-law took over the business and managed to become part of the German economic miracle with young and spirited workers.
In the following years, the company grew. Dozens of jobs were created by expanding the product portfolio with scissors, nippers, manicure cases, and more. Also through the acquisition of partner companies such as Tennis, Bismarck, Fontana or Merkur – to name just a few, DOVO continued to succeed. After over a hundred years, a wide assortment of our high-quality straight razors is prepared the renaissance of the straight razors today.
You don´t know how a classic wet shave is performed? Here you will learn everything you need!
Emil Hermes founded his company in 1896 in Solingen. Since the brand name Hermes was already taken, he chose the Roman name of the messenger of the gods Hermes, so the name MERKUR was registered as a trademark.
By manufacturing high-quality beard and shaving equipment as well as pocket knives and hair clippers, MERKUR quickly made a name for itself. Already the first safety razor at the beginning of the 20th century had a comb design, very similar in function, as it is known today from a classic safety razor. To this day, the Merkur brand razors reflect the quality and essence of the past in design, packaging, and advertising.
Learn more about safety razors here and find one that suit you!
As the largest customer of MERKUR, DOVO took over the company in 1996. Since then, the traditional production of MERKUR safety razors has been carried out under the same roof as DOVO’s traditional straight razor manufacturing.
The manufactory today
Most of our products are made entirely in Germany. Our straight razors, scissors, and nippers for example are manufactured like they were 100 years ago in Solingen.
DOVO combines traditional know-how inherited from generations with modern production techniques and structural change. The manual share in complex manufacturing processes is well over 50%, while robots sometimes do more straightforward tasks.
A traditional company with a future
We are proud to be a traditional family business. That does not indicate that we are resting on the laurels of the old days: modernisation and digitisation haven taken part in our company. We are working hard to transfer the DOVO quality promise in the 21st century. With the passion lifeblood of our experienced craftsmen and the unique history of the DOVO brand as a model, we confidently look to the future and carry on the legacy of Carl Dorp and Carl Arthur Voos.