Original Bergischer Engel: Looking Back with 90

I am really lucky that Mrs Gruner-Witkop’s father used to keep a thick ring binder with lots of information about “Original Bergischer Engel”. When I had the chance to visit Mrs Gruner-Witkop for the first time in summer 2017, she showed me that ring binder and I took many pictures. On the black and white photos below you see a Christmas party they had organized for the staff and their children. In the most busy times Original Bergischer Engel had 12 staff members who did the painting – most of them women. The women used to be more talented at this job than the men, Mrs.Gruner-Witkop pointed out.

Looking back, she confessed that working for the manufactory had only been Plan B). Plan A) had been university, Mrs.Gruner-Witkop would have liked to become a lawyer. But then, the family could not afford that. As a result, children in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s had their bedrooms and playrooms decorated with her art – Fairy Tale Wood Pictures and Jumping Jacks. Those pull figures turned out to be the most successful items. They were great quality and many of them were very unusual, like a fishwife ringing a bell.

In the end Original Bergischer Engel got sold to Mertens-Kunst. The produced a while under both names „Gruner Witkop“ and „Original Bergischer Engel“ to keep the old customers of Mrs. Gruner-Witkop. I will tell you later how you can tell those wood products apart from the original wood pictures and jumping jacks.

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