Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,109 pages of information and 233,634 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Jacob Wolf Spier

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Jacob Wolf Spier (1832-1893) of J. W. Spear and Sons

1832 Born in Germany. His Jewish parents worked as soap makers. His mother died when he was four, so he was brought up by his father.

1852 Emigrated to America, along with many others who left their native Germany during this period.

1857 Married the German born Sophie Rindskodft.

1860 Jacob and Sophie Spier were granted American citizenship and changed their name to Spear. They had the first two of their ten children, Ralph and Joseph, that same year.

1861 The family moved back to Germany due to the outbreak of the American Civil War.

1862 They moved again, to Rechendorf near Bamberg, where Spear worked as a manager of Reiß and Co for four years, producing wooden goods.

1869 Spear moved his family to Sonneberg, an area known for toy manufacturing. He joined C. Harwig and Son as a partner. (The company, founded in 1825, had grown over the years. By 1865 it had broadened its range to include goods such as dominoes, money boxes, cribbage, board and racing games).

1872 The company was registered under a new name Harwig, Spear and Bergmann - a very unlikely partnership as Harwig was a Protestant, Spear was Jewish and Bergmann was a Catholic. The new company produced paint boxes, money boxes and games which, sold in England, France and Germany.

1878 Spear left that company and he and his family moved to England. He founded J. W. Spear as an import company dealing with fancy goods. His three oldest sons, Ralph, Joseph and Carl, stayed in London to take care of the company while the rest of the family moved back to Germany.

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