The beginning (1735-1827)
In 1735 a faience factory was established in Niderviller. In that year Anne Marie André allowed Mathias Lesprit, master pipe maker, to set up a earthenware factory on her land, in an attempt to make the forests and the quarry profitable. Unfortunately things do not go to well and debts pile up. That is why, on 4 September 1748, Anne Marie André's cousins sell the entire property, including the factory, to Jean-Louis Beyerle, manager of the Mint in Strasbourg. His ambition is to equal the reputation of the Hannong factory in Strasbourg. He therefore hires pottery bakers from Strasbourg, including the young painter and chemist François-Antoine Anstette.
Last named improves the production process: in 1759 he becomes the manager of the factory, which was rebuilt after a fire.
He produces fine earthenware, also called "terre de pipe", multiformed figurines after Cyfflé using "petit feu", and in 1763 he starts producing hard porcelain with the help of escaped Germans.
A number of pieces produced at the end of this period are marked with the initials NB or BN (Beyerlé, Niderviller).
When the Count is nearly bankrupt in 1778, he starts a joint-venture with François-Henri Lenfrey, who takes over the management, extends the factory, buys a kaolin pit in Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche as well as a factory in Schneckenbusch and the moulds of the bankrupt Cyfflé.
He hires 50 employees, among whom Joseph Seeger, and Lemire, a pupil of Cyfflé. The factory produces biscuit porcelain figurines and a new, cheap, fine earthenware named cailloutage (crushed limestone is added to the clay). The mark used in this period consists of two crossed C's, with or without a crown.
At the same time the French revolution breaks out, the difficulties for the company start: general Custine is guillotined on 29 August 1793, manpower is decreased and the production is continued with only 15 persons. Finally, on 14 September 1802, Lanfrey can buy the factory and the quarry.
Napoleon's empire is taking shape, the production of luxury items is resumed and the number of employees increases to 50. In 1824 Lanfrey (who will die 3 years later) signed a purchase agreement for the kaolin quarry.
His 2 sons sell the factory to Louis-Guillaume Dryander, an associate of Boch-Buchmann in Mettlach (Saarland).
Industrial production (1827 - 1944)
Competition with Limoges forces Dryander to stop the porcelain production in 1830; even the figurines are no longer in fashion. For this reason he perfects the technique of cailloutage and develops new fine feldspath porcelain which looks like porcelain, once glazed.
The company produces industrial crockery with 90 employees in a new factory in Hesse, in coal heated ovens. These mainly white products are sold under the name "Fabrique de faïence et cailloutage" under the mark L.-G. Dryander".
Dryander is succeeded by his two sons and the mark now consists of the name "Dryander Frères Niderviller" around the coat of arms of Lorraine. In 1886 the company becomes a limited company.
In this difficult period the company survives mainly due to the know-how of the staff and the competent management (G. Küpper from 1881 until 1899, Jacob Flach from 1900 until 1923 and Paul Galliath from 1923 until 1938). In 1906 a branch is set up in Switzerland.
The production chain is organized around the realigned ovens. Telephone, steam machines and electricity are introduced, just like pension funds, health insurance companies, the 40-hour working week and paid holidays. But the production mainly stays the same, with some new decorations, the use of templates with 1 to 4 colors, brilliance and especially decorations applied using a paint pistol.
The factory mark is still a stamp with the coat of arms of Lorraine combined with the trade name in French or German: "S.A. Faïencerie de Niderviller" or "Steingutfabriek Niederweiler A.G.".
The postwar period: "Grandeur and servitude"
On 2 January 1945 Gustabe Dryander relaunches the company with 57 employees and 45 prisoners of war. He has to modernise and purchases transformers and a double, 80 meters long tunnel oven. He must catch up with the competition and he therefore sets up a fctory in Algeria (MNAF) and a workshop in Pornic (MBFA) where the decorations are applied.
In these years of strong inflation the bank WORMS takes over the loan from the Dryander family and guarantees management of the faience factory: the production of quality products, commercial development at department stores and small shops, but also the sale of lossmaking factories (Algeria, Switzerland) and the purchase of additional factories (Saint-Amand in the north, Sainte-Radegonde-en-Touraine). In 1972 the "Faïenceries de Niderviller et Saint-Amand" (FNSA) emplois 700 workers in 4 modern and well equipped factories. But in 1981 the bank WORMS sells several factories to reduce its industrial investments. FNSA is bought by SITRAM on 19 January 1982. This producer of enamelled pans wants to use the sales channels of the wholesalers and hypermarkets of FNSA. It is a slow period and the production is aimed more towards cheaper products, often sold at a loss.
In March 1984 the doors of the Saint-Amand factory are closed and in July 1986 the factory of Sainte-Radegonde is shut as well.
The "Société d'exploitation de faïenceries de Niderviller et Pornic" survives thanks to the artistic qualities of the products, which are noticed at exhibitions. But still the majority of the utensils is sold at a loss. On June 4 1987 156 of the 250 employees are laid off. On November 20 in the same year a "Société Coopérative de Production" (SCOP) is allowed to run the company.
Gas ovens are installed and both an exhibition space and a factory shop are built. Bad management or laxity? On March 25 1993 45 persons are fired after a court order. The company restarts again on February 1 1994 with 63 employees. (The Pornic factory is reverted to an association.)
The company, now called "Manufacture de Niderviller S.A." wants to preserve the heritage and the know-how to promote industrial tourism.
On January 1996 bankruptcy is filed for. On May 16 of the same year the factory is taken over by Jean and Marc Jacquet, who already have taken over the glass factories Vallérysthal and Portieux to save these gems of industrial and artistic heritage of Lorraine.