KNOX – the authentic ones

More than 135 years ago, chemist Hermann Zwetz founded what has become today's oldest factory for smoking agents in Germany arguably in Europe.

Driven by the dream of manufacturing incense in an industrial process not only for the chemistry, but also in larger volumes, he founded a "chemical-technical laboratory" after a few years of occupational experience in Auma (Thuringia) and Zörbig (Saxony-Anhalt), in the little town of Möschlitz near Schleiz together with the chemist Vorländer.

Model of a laboratory around 1870 Model of a laboratory around 1870

A 'gunpowder' mill, which was no longer required at that time for the production of gunpowder, since dynamite was invented at the time, did the trick for two entrepreneurs. As such, they started manufacturing incense here for the time being and experimented with antimony preparations and smoking agents, incense, smoking powder, incense paper, among other things with frankincense or sandalwood, which was used to a great extent as an active ingredient for the treatment of whooping cough and asthma, but also just for improving the quality of the air and reducing the intensity of odours, which grew due to the growing industrialisation.

Particularly in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains), where the miner's were subjected to the rough weather conditions above and below ground, there were many illnesses of the airways above all for children. As such, a father probably carved a smoking figure for his sick child to speed the healing process, the "Räuchermann" (Incense Smoker).

1888 Vorländer and Zwetz acquire a property close to the hospital in Schleiz and build a factory on it, which is then expanded little by little. After the hospital is expanded, the building is finally expanded with an addition in the direction of the hospital built in 1920 (H. Zwetz: "… so that the people from the hospital can't peep in""). After his death, his daughter continued to manage the business from 1923 to 1953.

After 1945 and particularly after 1949, the provisioning of raw materials from abroad was problematic: "She wasn't able to get the red stuff (sandal wood) any more", reports a resident and "…up until a while ago, you could still smell the incense (1994!)".

Manufacture in Mohorn-Grund about 1954 Manufacture in Mohorn-
Grund about 1954

In 1953, the chemical business man Erich Koch bought the company and resettled it to Mohorn-Grund. At the time, the production was conducted in a saw mill eight years following the end of the war.

The incense was dried outside in the yard or under a canopy during bad weather. In Beyer's manor, a farmstead in Mohorn, the incense was then packaged in the living room and prepared for shipment.

The incense was dried outside in the yard The incense was dried outside in the yard

In 1960, the first "new factory" was able to be inaugurated, a barrack which had been used since 1945 for the rubble clearance in Dresden. Who can forget the lamentable time of the material provisioning?

Today, the company is managed by Marion Koch and employs 8-12 workers. In 1997 we moved into a new building at the same address. Since then, we have been able to present the history of incense in a small museum there.