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SAMASSA, foundry family

* early 18th century, Ljubljana, Slovenia
† until 1918, Ljubljana, Slovenia


In the early 18th century, with the S. family settling in Ljubljana, the founding of bells within Slovenian territory reached its peak. The tradition of bell founding began with Jožef S. († 1741) and his sons Anton (1701-1750) and Jožef (1718-1751). In the third generation, Johann Jakob S. (1744-1803) became a sole trader in 1767 and in 1792 established a new bell foundry plant in Ljubljana. Through technological modernisation and his own innovations, he soon developed a monopoly within the country. In addition, the plant produced fire engines, supplied water pumps and coal mining machinery to the mercury mine in Idrija and cast cannon.
His grandson, Johann Jakob S. (1803-83), a talented mechanic and innovator, expanded the activities to include ironworking and machine construction. He was also active in politics and commerce and promoted the establishment and operation of social institutions and schools; thanks to him, Ljubljana got the Realschule.
His son Albert (1833-1917) who took over the company's management in 1866, constructed a new steam-powered plant in Ljubljana in 1874 and expanded the operations to the manufacture of craft products to furnish churches and also items for industry, water suppliers and fire fighting equipment, as well as foundry and mechanical products for the navy in the Adriatic. He cast the famous bells in the Rotunda for the World Fair in Vienna in 1873.
His son Maks (1862-1945) made contact with influential political and military circles in Vienna and in competition with established English manufacturers won large tenders for the navy. He modernised the Ljubljana plant and in 1908 took over the rival companies in Wiener Neustadt and Linz. During WWI the entire production would meet the requirements of the navy, and the Italian air force bombarded his plants in Ljubljana as a consequence. In 1919 he was forced to sell the company. In two hundred years of operation, the Ljubljana-based plants of S. family cast about 8,000 bells, with a total weight of 2,800 tonnes; the record bell was one weighing more than 4-tonnes.

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