Pioneers of Steel

Steel controls the world: bridges, cars, energy, tools, cutlery, cookware – we encounter it nearly everywhere in daily life. The material has one important advantage over others, it is amenable but also solid. Steel stands better than iron or bronze. This makes it a unique basic material. To pour it directly into huge forms is the ultimate event in the manufacture of steel. Today there are only a few who are able to handle this very complex technique. Every step has to be accomplished perfectly; otherwise all the work was for nothing.

In the 19th Century Alfred Krupp and the innovator Jakob Mayer gave each other one hard-fought duel over steel. Both of them knew: the one who could control this technique of steel-manufacturing first, would make the essential step in the production of steel.

After one year their trade rivalry culminates in the world exhibition in Paris in 1855. There, it is the small resourceful businessman Jakob Mayer who draws the attention of the world’s public. He claims to have manufactured his exhibits – three large church bells of steel – in a single pour. Just one person protests vehemently: Alfred Krupp. His contention leads to a showdown, which only one can win…