Kohner Wood Toys, which were made between 1946 and about 1956 have a
distinctive natural looking satin stained finish. There is a historical
reason for this that goes back to the 1870s.
Kohner Bros. traces its origins to a small town in the then
Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy, TACHAU, where Moritz Kohner founded a small
factory that made wood-turned bases for curtain handles and sword
decorations. These bases were subsequently spun over with silk in Germany and
were in fashion until about 1900.
As a teenager, Moritz Kohner in 1851 was lured by the tales of the gold rush in America and he traveled all the way to California to dig for gold. He did not find any riches in California and went back home a year later. There he found gold of a different kind. In those days there were an abundance of maple, birch and beech trees growing in the
Tachau region and many poor peasants, as a means of additional income,
learned to turn wooden parts on primitive foot operated lathes. Moritz Kohner
was one of the pioneers who made Tachau known as a center of wooden products.
In 1874 Moritz founded the original company that was eventually to become
Kohner Bros. Inc. in America many years later. Several manufacturers, with
the help of a skilled labor force developed a special, inexpensive barrel
finish that gave the finished products a rich-looking appearance. This
involved tumbling the beads in large wooden drums in a multi-step smoothing,
coloring and finishing process. The finish lent itself well for beads,
buttons, components for toys and games, beaded handbags, Mohammedan Rosaries,
etc. Gradually, automatic lathes were developed that allowed mass production
of their products.
In 1890 Moritzís sons Emil and Max joined the business and it then became known as M. Kohner & Sons. Moritz Kohner died in 1900 and his son Emil took over running the business. During World War I, Emil had to join the Austrian-Hungarian army but after the war the Tachau wood industry revived quickly. After the war the town of Tachau became part of the newly founded nation of Czechoslovakia. Emil and his wife Rosa had a son Paul who was born in 1900 and a son Frank who was born in 1910. Eventually, after
their education, both brothers joined and gradually took over management of