The following are brief biographical sketches of the individuals associated with beginnings of Steyr Mannlicher.
Josef Werndl - Werndl was born February 26,1831 in Steyr and died there of pneumonia April 29,1889. Coming from an old established family of gun makers, he too became a gunsmith and worked for Geselle in Prague as well as the Austrian State Rifle arsenal at Wahring near Vienna, in Thuringia. He visited America to work in the Colt, Remington and Pratt & Whitney factories where he learned valuable new skills on state of the art machines, and gained an understanding of serial production techniques. In 1853 after the death of his father, he took over the family operation which grew quickly under his management. Working with him at this time was Karl Holub, whose breech loading army rifle Werndl mass produced. In 1863 Holub took a leaveof absence from Werndl to work at the Colt factory in Hartford, CT, and learn modern production techniques and skills. Upon Holub's return in 1864 Werndl founded the Oesterreichische Waffenfabriks Gesellschaft (Austrian Arms Manufacturing Co.) at Steyr which with the newly learned modern production techniques quickly grew prospered.
Holub - Karl Holub was born in Stradonice, a small town
northwest of Prague, and died in Steyr May 23, 1905. Holub was
originally a locksmith by trade, a skill learned in Prague and he
worked in towns all over the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Prior to
his entering military service he apprenticed at the Austrian
State Arsenal in Vienna and there became acquainted with Josef
Werndl. Upon completion of his military service and subsequent
discharge he went to work for Werndl in Steyr. He too went to
America where he gained valuable skills at Colt and upon his
return applied his knowledge to the development of a new breech
loading rifle design. While Holub retained the patent rights to
the new design, the manufacturing rights for all rifles of
Holub's design were bought by Werndl and in 1867, the newly
invented Werndl breech loading rifle was adopted by the
Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher - Born January 30, 1848 in Mainz, Germany and died in Vienna, January 20,1904. He spent most of his life in Austria and studied engineering at the Vienna Technical University. He worked at the Austrian Railway Co. as their chief engineer with eventual retirement in mind. He became associated with the Oesterreichische Waffenfabriks Gesellschaft were he developed magazine fed rifles. Between 1875 and 1904 he developed numerous rifles, pistols, and magazine designs for the firm, as well as the packet or clip loading system. His first semi-automatic rifle design appeared in 1885 and his automatic pistol, the M-1905 achieved great success. He is most remembered for the bolt action rifles that bear his name. At the 1900 Paris World's Fair, Mannlicher had a collection of his arms on display which were awarded the highest prize. For his meritorious service and advanced weapons designs he was given numerous decorations and later knighted.
Otto Schoenauer - Schoenauer was born 1844 in Reichmaring, a small town southwest of Steyr and died September 17, 1913. As a young apprentice he worked at the Vetterli rifle factory in Neuhausen Switzerland and later as a technician in Josefov, a suburb of Prague. There he came to the attention of Werndl who was acting as production manager for the Oesterreichische Waffenfabriks Gesellschaft. In 1886 Werndl hired Schoenauer and in 1889 Schoenauer became Business Manager. In 1896 Schoenauer became Technical Director of the factory and was responsible in part for the design of a rotary magazines for use in bolt action rifles. It was not until 1900 that Schoenauer's name was linked to a successful rotary design, developed and patented along with Ferdinand Mannlicher and incorporated in what came to be known as the Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifle, now known around the world.
These sketches are in part excerpted from the designer's personal histories from as published in "125 Jahre Waffen aus Steyr, Josef Werndl - Leben und Werk 1831-1889" (125 years of Firearms from Steyr, Joseph Werndl - His Life and Work 1831-1889," 1989 as translated and revised by Kevin S.Tikker and John Schaefer, and the Mannlicher Collector newsletter, No. 8.
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Updated 2005-10-13 @ 1130