By Larry B. Schuknecht
The major source for this biographical material is the “Directory of Makers & Tradesmen” compiled by Jesse Thompson and found in Alte Scheibenwaffen Vol. 2 by Rowe, Thompson, Dillon, Hallock, Loos. It is used here through the courtesy of Mr. Tom Rowe.
The extensive Langenhan family in Mehlis, Thur. has a long history of Arms making dating back to the early 19th Century. It is recorded that Johann Gottlieb Langenhan (May 16, 1791- Jan. 15, 1883) was a master gunmaker who worked for a Guild Master named Simon. Johann taught his son Valentin Friedrich Langenhan (June 10, 1819- March 2, 1886) who opened his own shop in Mehlis in 1842. Valentin Friedrich went by his middle name Friedrich as is seen in all of his advertisements. This was probably to prevent confusion with another Valentin Langenhan who was probably his senior and who operated an Eisen und Stahl kurzwarrenfabrik which was also located in Mehlis. From here on he will be referred to as Friedrich. The main products of this shop at that time were Handguns, mainly revolvers. Due to his quality of materials and work his business flourished and in 1861 he and his father purchased a roller mill that had started in 1653 as a smelting and hammer forge. This facility made gun parts such as lock plates, triggers, butt plates, etc.
About this same time Friedrich who’s second wife was the daughter of George Ernst Barthelmes, moved part of his business into his father in laws property known as the Lowenhaus in Zella St. Blasii. With the addition of manufacturing facilities he established a good reputation for his revolvers and obtained contracts from many governments for them. Shortly he began adding fine hunting guns to his line as shown by the 1873 ad in the Handbook of Industry. Friedrich’s health began failing and on Jan. 1, 1886 he turned over the business to his son Ernst Hermann. At that time the shop had seven employees. While Friedrich had expanded the products of the shop to include barrels, rifles and Teschings (small bore hunting rifles) Hermann soon after taking over expanded the line to include air guns and bycycles. By 1912 the firm had expanded and was located at Schulstrasse 27 and produced precision air guns, zimmerstutzen, teschings, target pistols and stalking rifles (pirschbuschsen). Hermann was very involved with local civic affairs in both Government and the shooting sports.
When Hermann passed away in 1929 his sons Fritz Oskar and Ernst Paul took over the management of the firm which by the start of World war II employed around 400 people. At the end of the war the firm like so many others in Mehlis and Suhl was dissolved under the Communist regime.
Below are the four known generations of the one branch of the Langenhan family.
Generation 1-Johann Gottlieb Langenhan (May 16,1791-Jan.15,1883)
Generation 2-Valentin Friedrich Langenhan (June 10,1819-March 2,1886)-son of Johann G.
Ernestine Langenhan- Dau. of Johann who married Ernst Friedrich Büchol
Generation 3-Ernst Hermann Langenhan (May 29,1859-May 17,1929)-Son of Valentin Fr.
Helene Langehan Dau. of Valentin Fr. married Oskar Will
Generation 4-Fritz Oskar Langenhan (July 8,1893- ) & Ernst Paul Langenhan (June 2,1899-Sept. 27,1985) sons of Ernst Hermann.
The Langenhan family was also related through marriage to the Barthelmes, Büchol, Klett and Will families. The patent no. 86040 that was issued to Emil Barthelmes on Aug. 8, 1895 would later become important to the Langenhans. It features a straight line firing pin with a coil mainspring and is cocked when an underlever is opened. This design became the standard for Fritz and possibly Friedrich’s Teschings (small bore tipping barrel hunting rifles) and Pirschbüchsen (stalking rifles).
Note- In 1919 Zella St. Blasii and Mehlis became Zella-Mehlis.
Other members of the Langenhan family who are recorded by Jesse Thompson as being gunmakers are-
Anton Langenhan- The son of Julius Langenhan, he was a master gunmaker in Mehlis from the early 20th Century to circa 1936. Located at Mittlegasse 2.
August G. Langenhan- A master gunmaker in Mehlis in the 1880’s.
Carl Louis Langenhan- A master gunmaker in Mehlis in the 1880’s.
Christian Eduard Langenhahn- A master lockmaker in the late 1920’s located at Rodebachstrasse 20, Zella-Mehlis.
Christian Theodor Langenhan- A master gunmaker in Mehlis in the 1880’s. He may have been the father of Christian Eduard.
Emil Langenhan- A master gunmaker at Mehlis in the 1880’s. He may be Emil the elder.
Emil Langenhan- (June 10, 1881- Nov. 20, 1945) He may be Emil the younger the son of the above Emil. He had a shop at Talsrasse 40 in Zella-Mehlis from about 1929 to about 1936 and produced bicycles, shotguns, and light weight single shot rifles. (Pirschbüchsen and Teschings)
Ernst Langenhan- a gunmaker located at Talstrasse 33 in the late 1920’s.
Ernst Leonhardt Langenhan- A Master Gunmaker in Mehlis in the late 1880’s.
Franz Langenhan- A gunmaker located at Schutzenallee 4 in Zella-Mehlis in the late 1920’s.
Georg and Georg Heinrich Langenhan- A master gunmaker or gunmakers in Mehlis in the late 1880’s. This may be one and the same or two differant individuals.
Gustav Langenhan- A gunmaker located at Hammerweg 16 in Zella St. Blasii circa 1912.
Hans Langenhan– A gunmaker located at Sandiger Weg 47 in Zella-Mehlis circa 1936.
Heinrich Langenhan- A master gunmaker in Mehlis in the late 1880’s.
Johann Friedrich Langenhan- A master gunmaker in Mehlis in the late 1880’s.
Julius Theodor Langenhan- recorded as a gun maker in Mehlis in May 1888, this may be the same Julius Theodor who was the father of Anton and Theodor and operated a gunmaking business at Mittlegasse 2 in 1929.
Kurt Langenhan- He was related to Richard Langenhan and had a gunmaking business at Am Bockigten Stein 1 in Mehlis circa 1936.
Paul Langenhan- The son of Eduard Langenhan, he was a barrel maker at Schonauerstraase 90 in Zella-Mehlis in the late 1920’s.
Peter Langenhan- A master gun maker in Mehlis in the late 1880’s.
Richard Langenhan- A gun maker located at Am Bockigten Stein 1 circa 1929- 1936. Related to Kurt Langenhan possibly a brother or father-son relationship.
Rudolf Langenhan- A gun maker located at Anspelstrasse 52 in Zella-Mehlis circa 1929-1936.
Theodor August Langenhan- a master gun maker in Mehlis in the late 1880’s.
Theodor Friedrich Langenhan-A gun maker located at Mittlegasse 2 in Zella-Mehlis circa 1929. The son of Julius Theodor Langenhan.
Valentin Langenhan- A master gun maker in Mehlis in the late 1880’s. A son of Theodor Langenhan.
Following are images of a kipplauf rifle in 5.6 x 35R Vierling made by Fritz Langenhan in 1930 for the Albrecht Kind firm. The FLZ in a circle trade mark for Fritz Langenhan is found on the right side of the receiver with the proof marks. On the bottom of the barrel is a trade mark of a pistol shooter for Albrecht Kind in Berlin. This trade mark was applied before the barrel was blued leading me to believe that the rifle was made under contract by Fritz for the Albrecht Kind (AKAH) firm.
Friedrich Langenhan and the Fr. Langenhan firm held three patents- DRP28565 of 1884, DRP 73855 of 1893 and DRP 513649 of Dec. 1, 1930 for a handgun. He held DRGM’s no. 280196 of April 23, 1906, no. 625263, no. 633251
Heinrich Langenhan held DRGM no. 271574 of Nov. 15, 1905 for a Revolver
Kurt Langenhan had Deutsche Demokratische Republik patents no. 27262 of Jan. 16, 1960 and no. 25082 of Feb. 24, 1960. Both were for a falling block action operated by a side knob which operated a cam action to lower and raise the block.
Peter Langenhan and Heinrich Eck were issued DRP 33862 of Dec. 5, 1885.
Below is an entry from a mid 1930’s DWM catalog illustrating a Fritz Langenhan single shot falling block rifle. Also I have two images of the action parts of one of these rifles to show the System.