Essay by Viktoria Tothova

Family History
Viktoria Tothova
94 301 Sturovo
Slovak Republic

Barbora is a student at the Gymnazium in Sturovo Class 6B


My name is Viktoria Tothova, and I’m 16 years old. My home is the eastern Slovak city of Bardejov, where my mother Gabriela’s roots are, and the city where the first and only toy store in upper Hungary stood. The owner of the shop was my distant ancestor, Ferdinand Maugsch. In an appendix I show the pedigree of the relationship between Ferdinand Maugsch and myself, Viktoria Tothova. Also attached are the birth certificates of Ferdinand and Rozalia Maugsch (the great-grandparents of my grandmother Marta Galleova, along with her birth certificate), of my mother Gabriela (maiden name Maeejovska) and of myself, Viktoria Tothova, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Ferdinand and Rozalia Maugsch.

Ferdinand Maugsch was born on 13 October in the revolutionary year of 1849 in Vienna, to the couple of Carl Friedrich and Katarina (maiden name Mulnerova). He was born in the time when there ruled in the Austrian monarchy the Emperor and King Jozef I. Ferdinand’s father came from Kezmarok. He moved to Vienna seeking work. Young Ferdinand in 1874 took as his wife the Austrian Rozalia Bold (a photograph of the couple from Vienna is in an appendix). The first child, daughter Filomena, was born a year after the wedding in Banska Bystrica, later they had a son Julius, in Bardejov (a photograph of the children together is in the appendix). According to what his sister Filomena said, he left Bardejov and went to Budapest as an artistic painter and sculptor. He taught at an art school and had his own studio. After a fire there he traveled to Austria, finally settling down to start a family, and he died in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. His sister did not keep in close contact with him. The reason for the family argument was considered the marriage of Filomena, the daughter of the richest manufacturer in the general area, to Jan Vojtech Oskar Galle, a man of a town family respected but with many children. His own family was not happy with this either, for flying in the face of their own status he became a confectioner. The Galle family lived in a city house directly on the town hall square in Bardejov. Ferdinand and Rozalia did not agree with their daughter’s marriage as they worried that their daughter, raised according to strict etiquette as an aristocratic girl, would not be able to raise a large number of children. She is shown in an appendix as a young girl with two nannies. Jan, her future husband, came from a family of twelve children. The prediction came true, and Filomena had ten children, which she however raised with love and respect in the family embrace. She lived with her husband and mother in a house near the town square, and in 1928 completed a house in which my grandparents live to this day – Filomena’s granddaughter, the daughter of her son Jozef. I enclose the Galle family (of Jan and Filomena) with all their children and two grandchildren (the two youngest children) in an appendix. The family quarrels associated with daughter Filomena culminated in the separation of the Maugsch couple. Their jointly-owned factory took the greatest damage, disappearing from Bardejov soon after their separation.

The factory was founded in a period of economic crisis. Our country was just recovering from the consequences of Turkish invasion of Hungary, and the subsequent struggles between the Viennese court and the nobility. The factory was tested out in Banska Bystrica in 1882, and Ferdinand Maugsch was already participating as owner in a Trieste exhibition, where he in fact won an award. The factory did not, though, have enough support from the town authorities, so in 1884 he moved to Bardejov. Its beginnings were hard. Despite good state backing and support from town authorities, production did not start off as expected. For this reason a dispute arose between Maugsch and the town. The Kosice Chamber of Commerce and Industry helped reconcile the discord that arose. In line with the agreement, the Ministry of Commerce and the town provided Maugsch with resources and support for the factory to overcome the manufacturing difficulties. The factory obtained funding for acquiring further expert and manual employees, and in addition the town vacated the barracks (an appendix shows photographs of the barracks as a town house in 1957 before sanitization, and of the place where the factory stood; today a bus station stands there) and provided wood for production free of charge. The factory, which was located in the barracks (after its demise it became the town manor), was relatively small in size. It included the engine room, where the steam engine (the first in town) was set up, to drive machines in two rooms. The rest consisted of painting and handiwork areas, a brick-making room and storage. At the entrance was a room serving for presentation, sales and advertising. The owner himself saw to presentations, by preparing samples containing the most sought after types of products. The main production line was dolls, but apart from them were manufactured lounging chairs for the nearby spa, garden tables and chairs, and gift items (pens, inkstands, jugs, candy boxes), for which there was great demand right in town, as his agents offered them to their business partners. The factory owned shops at the Bardejov spa, in Presov and in Budapest. It hired 60 laborers. Women performed their work at home. They would come to the factory for material and return with completed products. During the greatest boom, as many as 120 laborers worked here. In its 20 years of existence, the Bardejov toy factory was recognized abroad as well. Dolls were exported to Austria and Germany, where they were considered rarities and preferred above the famous toys of Thuringia. For France, England, Germany and the USA they produced children’s furniture, religious and secular ceramics and various cloth animals.

Toys also represented Bardejov at world exhibitions in Paris and Vienna, where Maugsch was honored with a silver medal. For the centennial exhibition in 1896 in Budapest, three life-size horses and riders were prepared. The manufacturing itself was organized very well. Production occurred on a hand-made production line basis. The goods passed through the hands of at least six workers (modelers, casters, assemblers, driers, painters and tailors), until finally they arrived in the packing area for shipping. Every worker, whether it was a woodworker, potter, caster, tailor or painter, was at work from 7 o’clock in the morning until 5 in the afternoon with a one-hour lunch break and a short morning break. Their work was incomparably easier compared to that of other employees and paid twice as well. We can compare their wages for example with those of forest workers, who made about 1.2 to 1.5 crowns, or with brick-makers, who made 2 to 3 crowns, while potters in the factory got 3 to 4 crowns, and toymakers 5 to 6 crowns. Apprentices, of whom there were 10 to 20 every year, studied in the trade school, in a month earned 10 crowns in the first year and in the fourth 16 crowns. All workers were properly insured, which was a great advantage over other lines of work, where this dispute was still being resolved before and after the First World War. Employees could also do sports, as in the courtyard was fitness equipment. Factory products were made of “mache”, of wood and of textiles (mostly skirts). Mache is a material consisting of mashed paper, flour and chalk.

The substance was first steamed, then mixed, rolled, modeled according to a pattern and cast in individual pieces, which after drying were assembled into a single whole. The prepared figures were cleaned, smoothed and finally painted. They were exceptionally long-lasting, proof of which is the existence of several dolls about 80 cm in size in the archive of the Saris region Museum in Bardejov (doll photographs are in an appendix). Apart from dolls in folk costumes, other figures were also manufactured, such as soldiers, wire tinkers, chimney sweeps and pretzel-makers. These folk character toys had an individual personality. Most of them were copies of regional folk elements of traditional 19th century fashions of the upper Saris region. In an appendix is depicted daughter Filomena in a folk costume such as the dolls wore.

At the turn of the 20th century, the factory began to decline. After the family quarrels mentioned, Maugsch left Bardejov. His wife was unable to manage the factory, and so she sold it to her co-worker Hugo Werther, who because of better conditions moved it to Bekescaba in Hungary in 1904. Ferdinand Maugsch also, after his departure from Bardejov, lived and in 1906 died in Bekescaba. The factory’s demise marred the town’s economic development.

As I review this story of one family member and reflect on it, I find that people’s lives from generation to generation are very similar. It’s based on work, on the abilities and understanding of individual family members, and on the cohesion of the family. Maybe, if my ancestors had not put such emphasis on their standing in society, the toy factory would still adorn the Bardejov of today.

Literature used:

Family archives
History of Bardejov. Multiple authors.
Geskova-Pekaoova: History and Personalities of Bardejov in review of Annual Reports of the Hungarian Gymnazium
Mikulas Lovacky: Bardejov – a Retrospective
Collection of the Saris region Museum in Bardejov