Detail
1884

ENTREPRENEUR, INVENTOR & PIONEER

Friedrich Theodor Gottschalk – mastermind of mobility

BICYCLE ENTHUSIAST AND PROMOTER

Born in Dresden in 1858, the trained mechanic is quick to identify his own technical and entrepreneurial talents. He starts trading as a manufacturer of measuring tools in 1884. As an active member of one of the newly formed bicycle clubs, he realizes at an early stage that the bicycle is a mass phenomenon with a future. For leisure, for racing, and therefore for the economy, too. He switches his business, which has thus far been modest in size, to the production of all kinds of bicycle parts. Seats, brakes, tires and clothing are all included in the Gottschalk & Co product portfolio.

Friedrich Gottschalk (Stadtarchiv Dresden, 2.1.1 Ratsarchiv, A.II.244, fol. 10b)

ONE INVENTION CHANGES EVERYTHING: THE FREEWHEEL HUB

By the turn of the century, bicycles are on-trend in German-speaking countries. Men- and women-about-town from all generations and social classes are becoming more and more enthusiastic about their new-found mobility. Behind the scenes, there are rivalries and patent disputes and Gottschalk, too, tries to hold his own in the market. And he succeeds: He spots that a freewheel hub based on a US model is going to set the trend, sets about developing it further and cleverly markets it. In this way, he manages to get ahead of most of the competition. By the time the patent is pending on this hub in 1906, production volumes have increased to the point that Gottschalk has to move to new premises at Kanonenstraße (today Weinböhlaer Straße).

NETWORKED, ENGAGED AND POLITICALLY ACTIVE

Gottschalk’s keen sense for future trends is closely linked both to his personal commitment to cycling and to politics. He is one of the first to promote and support competitive cycling. As an business leader, he gains political influence, not least through his role on the City Council and the Geheimrat (Privy Council). When Gottschalk dies aged 74, the Wanderlust 1888 bicycle association bestows an honor guard on him in recognition of his services.

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