The following is a free translation by Peter Schaper, of notes originated by Hugo Schaper, originally assembled by Joachim Schaper in March 2002 and put into Word format by Monika Barthels.
Report by Hugo Schaper, Silver Jeweler in Berlin, Germany, brother of Fritz Schaper, Sculptor in Berlin.
I have felt quite often that very little is known about my parents and their forefathers and that there do not exist any written records or pictures. This caused me to think that I should write my biography for my children hoping that, with theor advancing years, they would learn to appreciate a happy youth they may have experienced in the house of their elders. Perhaps my children’s children may also have an appreciation of this.
In this sense I will write down the details, often not detailed enough, of my lifetimes which remain in my memory. Memories of a happy childhood in the family home are the best memories which one does not appreciate until later in life.
I have not saved any memories of my parents’ home as the youngest of seven siblings. My father was a preacher in the town of Alsleben on the Saale. My mother, nee von Heiligenstedt, was born in Jena and was supposedly the daughter of a jurist. Photography was rare in these days and just a pencil sketch of my father, drawn by my brother Hermann at age 19, who resembled my father, still exists. It shows him wearing the iron cross. Among other old papers there is also a document , dated March 14, 1815, giving permission to the enlisted “Jäger” Friedrich Schaper from Great Alsleben to wear the iron cross. There, our grandfather owned a farm. Another paper that existed in this collection was a drawn portrait of my mother, which unfortunately has been lost. This is particularly sad since I have no memory of her. She was supposed to have been a soft, blond individual, musically and artistically gifted.
The “Alsleben Schaper” Family Members:
In Great Alsleben, where my father came from, my grandfather owned supposedly a farm house where some relatives still lived in the 1840ies, with whom I had a brief encounter some time ago. In the year 1844, on June 14, I was born in Alsleben where my father died very suddenly on January 6, 1848 because of a heart attack. The mother moved with us seven children to Halle on the Saale, where we took up residence in the suburb Glaucha. 1 ½ years later a severe epidemic of Cholera suddenly took my mother’s life, leaving seven orphans in need of homes. This was greatly assisted by the pastor Ablefeld, a student friend of my father.
Hermann Schaper, the oldest who early on had exhibited an artistic talent, Was already employed at a porcelain factory in Ballasted in the Harz, moved to Halle and was employed there as a drawing teacher at the “Realschule”. He married Marie Schüler, daughter of a Guest House owner in Halle. They had a son, Rudolph Schaper who became an actor. Marie , at age 57 visited us in Berlin, then died very suddenly due to blood poisoning on May 31, 1889 and was buried at the Mathäi Church cemetery. My oldest brother, Hermann, died on March 3, 1890.
The sister, Adelheid, went to Dr. Niemeier, practicing medical doctor in Halle. The family Niemeier consisted of five children: 3 girls, 2 boys. From age 12 to 14 Adelheid moved in with a good friend of our mother, King’s Counsel [Justizrätin] in Niehring in Zerbst.
The following, in age brother, Ferdinand, was sent to the widow of Pastor Kriele in Halle, studied Theology according to the wishes of Pastor Ahlefeld. Sadly, because his talent and inclinations were leaning toward artistic drawings and architecture, as evidenced by his penciled depictions of landscapes. Ferdinand married Elisabeth Rösche, daughter of preacher Rösche in Felbitz Wilsleben. The marriage produced 4 children: Gottwald Schaper – Government Building Master (Author of the famous book “Iron Bridges”, long a standard in germany after being published in 1910), Magdalene Schaper, Margarete Schaper and Hans Schaper, Land Registry Controller. Ferdinand died August 4, 1880.
The brother preceding me in age, Fritz, was taken in as foster child by Count von Kielmannsegg. Fritz Schaper, sculptor, married on October 12, 1891, when in his 50th year, Helene Rittershaus, daughter of the poet Emil Rittershaus of Barmen. Three daughters, Hedwig, Eva and Dorothea and one boy, Wolfgang were their offsprings.
I, Hugo, became the beloved foster child of the widow Mrs. Post Director Mathilde Kramer and stepmother of Karl Kramer, from a previous marriage. She was the second wife of the Post Director of Merseburg and also had a step daughter, Agnes. In addition there was another Daughter Emma with whom I grew up as brother and sister until I was 10 years old. From there Pastor Ahlefeld, the guardian of us 7 children, caused me to be accepted at a Frankish Foundation in Halle whose director was a close relative of my stepmother. Thus it was that I came to forget the loss of my mother and the family home through the loving care and mild educational efforts of Frau Kramer and the heartfelt goodness and religious attitude of this excellent woman. I now became aware for the first time of my isolationist attitude toward my life in existing in the large institution with many other folks to be cared for. The time from my 10th year to the 16th belong to the least happy ones of my life, in spite of the fact that I owe thanks to the institute in spite of my total financial poverty.
During the quiet stillness and simplicity of my upbringing I did not stay in touch (more or less) with my siblings. In spite of that, I spent the little free time we were given in the orphanage where my sister Adelheid and I lived – Wednesdays from 3 to 7 o:clock and Sunday afternoon – to become more aware of my siblings whose existence had almost totally escaped my memory. The best memories belong to the vacation time I experienced on the knightly possession in Beuchlitz where my brother Rudolph started as trainee and eventually became administrator. Mrs. Oberamtmann Herzog, who knew my stepmother, was especially gracious by giving me always 1 Taler, a goodly amount by the situation in those days, while her helper, secretly, gave me some Knackwursts.
Here, in Beuchlitz, Rudolph Rudolph met and fell in love with the 18 year old Anna, daughter of the Cantor Hellmund. This quite deep affair lasted through several years which floundered due to the lack of means of support of s marriage, must have been the happiest time of his life. Several letters, which were written in his exotic, flowing style attest to that. They were kindly preserved by Anna Hellmund; she never married. Her outstanding nature and her true heartfelt feelings brought us back into contact with later and, even today, she fondly remembers our brother.
Now back to my education: until the 14th year I visited the citizens’ facilities and then, from 14 to 16years the Gymnasium [High School]. Since I did not develop the least talent for language, I was dismissed in the top of the 16th year and entered an apprenticeship with the goldsmith Kitscher in Halle, after I was awarded an additional stipend of 250.00 through the goodness of Director Kramer. First I was slated to become watch maker, and even today I am grateful to my fate that this did not work out, since the field of goldsmith offers a much wider range of opportunity for creative work. Since in the Gymnasium my top achievements were in drawing, writing and gymnastics, one sent me to a goldsmith. This apprenticeship was again for me the saddest and unfruitful time. There was hardly any time during this time of the 60ies for artful craftsmanship. It was my special fortune that my boss went bankrupt after my third year of apprenticeship. I still had my fourth year left and went to the goldsmith Leonhardt and worked on my final exam artwork, a signet ring with a large Topaz, which my brother Rudolph later purchased from me. My nephew Fritz Schaper, Rudolph’s only son, inherited it and gave it back to me as a present knowing that I had special connection to it. After concluding my apprenticeship I visiter for a short time with Rudolph, who by now had become the Inspector of the business end of the Rittergut Bayenneuburg near Riestädt (Sachsenhausen). Then I was off to Berlin to try to find a position as assistant to a goldsmith. In berlin I received significant support from my brother Fritz. He had arrived in Berlin 2 years earlier and worked in the studio of Professor Albert Wolf, the creator of the statue of Friedrich Wilhelm III which stands in the Lustgarten in Berlin. We lived temporarily in the house of Frau Rätin Bauer. After I spent 4 days searching in all directions for employment and finally finding a job with the goldsmith Gross in the Zimmerstrasse, paying 3 Groschen per week, we moved to a “den” in the Stralauerstrasse with Fritz paying for the lion’s share of the rent. The youngest son of Gross, a good looking young lad who later became a goldsmith, now works since 5 years ago, in my workshop and has the important position of supervising all repairs.
The cockroaches in our den came along gratis – we had a bakery in the house. This was in the spring of 1864, the war with Denmark started and, to my benefit, was ended pretty quickly, since otherwise I might have had serious problems finding another job. It also marked two of the most happy years of my life. Berlin of those days made an overpowering impression on me and through Fritz I gained admission to the sports club of artists, which introduced me to a circle of artists whose acquaintance and friendship I still enjoy until today. Sports comrades included many well known artists and otherwise famous people; for example Professor Anton von Werner, sculptor Otto Lessing, Professor Emil Hundrieser, a special friend jeweler Erdmann Enke and his brother, photographer Ernst Enke, who also became a special friend later on.
A celebration of the anniversary of the founding of the sports club held at this time is impressed in my memory forever. It started on a Saturday evening. Overnight we camped out in a large dance hall of the entertainment center in Pichelswerder, with us sleeping on straw. At 11 o:clock we traveled across the Havel river during a wonderful moonlit night with a torchlight procession. Upon our arrival there, at the memorial marker of Jatzow the Wenden prince, there appeared from the deep woods ghosts clothed in bedsheets and danced until 12 o:clock ghostly fashion around the memorial. This harmless entertainment which ended, in keeping within the frame of affordability, at the Weissbier pub behind the chestnut tree forest. In those days I paid 30 pennies for lunch in the Triangle in the Friedrichstrasse. For dinner I paid 20 to 25 pennies. In the year 66, after the start of the war, I found shelter without worries in the rectory Hohlstedter with my brother Ferdinand in the Golden Meadow at the base of Kyffhäuser. On a clear, beautiful summer morning, as I went hikd in the nearby hills, I heard a noise like distant thunder. It was the canon roar from the battle of Langensalza, where the news of the victory did not arrive in our quiet village until 2 days later. (Refe. Brockhaus: On June 29, 1866 the Prussians conquered the Hannoverans there.) From there I made my way, walking, to Dresden doing odd jobs, and from there to Zittau on the Saxon border, where I found a job with the Goldsmith Schröder. He only worked on export orders for Melbourne, Australia. The products were mostly ostriches in glazes who meandered under palms or marched in the desert and a few with small oval pearls as eggs. I remained there until the spring of 67, when I resumed my wandering on foot and found work in Döbeln with Goldsmith Müller. He had recently married a young girl from Berlin, a dauighter of a machine manufacturer, Schaaf, in the Chaussestrasse. She was not happy in the Saxon nest and we dreamed of remembrances of Berlin and surroundings, which did not exactly contribute to the enthusiasm for my employment. Along with me was a certain worker Geifrig, who had worked in Alexandria and told me wonders from there, especially of black international women who fell in love with tall blond German man, which he was. I spent 4 pleasant, beautiful months there enjoying naval sports events. The surroundings were charming and offered many party occasions. To continue with my working either in Zittau or Döbeln, however, did not enter my mind.
Therefore I quit my job in the fall, actually intending to again fin work in Berlin. When I made stopover in Halle to see my good foster mother Kramer, I also found a position with Goldsmith Walter, where I remained for one year and then, in the fall of 68, I returned to Berlin. Here I found a job with Goldsmith Butz who had a workshop and did work for larger stores. It was here that, for the first time, could participate in design and drawing of jewelry. He received several orders for my drawings. I stayed there until the spring of 69. After that I worked for ½ year for my old master Gross in the Zimmerstrasse, until October 69.Then came the first decisive step toward my independence. I rented a small backyard apartment at the end of the Friedrichstrasse, opposite of the Oranienburgerstrasse. Even though I was not known among family circles, it was enough for me to get by in the most thrifty ways, since I had as yet neither a shop nor storehouse. Especially fire chief Karl Kramer, the son of my foster mother in Halle, who was the director of the fire station in the Auguststreet, obtained some orders through his contacts. Through him Fritz and I were introduced to the Sanitätsrath Kramer, an uncle of his, whose daughter Marie Kramer got me some contracts through her friends. Further, my first clients included the photographers Löscher & Petsch (see note below), a buyer Schiele, and my future brother-in-law Hans Hartmann, for whom I later designed the engagement rings, after Fritz and I had moved to the Albrechtstrasse. During the winter of the war years, 1870 to 71, I prepared many war memory pieces through the rcommendations to wounded soldiers made by Marie Kramer, who had graciously volunteered as a nurse-helper in the Ulanenkaserne. Most were lead bullets removed from the wounded, which were adorned with oak and laurel leaves wound around lttle markers with location and date of the battle.
Note: Löscher & Petsch were located in the Tauentzienstrasse. They signed their photos as “Photographers to the court of German emperors”. They were the photographers who mde the portraits of the young family of Fritz Schaper in the 1890ies
At the beginning of the year 72 I moved with Fritz to the Albrechtstrasse, where we lived until 1875. Now I really began to step into the open for the first time, in that I opened a shop in the Potsdamerstrasse 11.AT that time my landlords were Leonhardt & Fiegel and my rent was 700 Thaler, or 2100 Mark, a very risky sum for me at that time. Fritz loaned me for that first 4000 Mark and then ever more up to 12000 Mark. Since I really had practically no experience in the financial managing arena, I had to still swallow some biter pills. A particularly painful experience was the loss of 1200 Mark through a swindler named Triert.
Also I need think thankfully about my friend Brachert, who gave me the first financial tips and arranged my first notebooks. Now came a difficult, probably the hardest work effort of my life to which I also ascribe my later nerve difficulties. Firstly, the store did not provide enough profit to hire help, so I had to be the salesman, the worker and the apprentice. When, during the day, I finished the selling and service functions, I had to do the design and drawing and worked mostly until 2 to 3 in the morning. After a year I was able to hire an apprentice and a sales person, but the store grew so much that there was no thought of rest or relaxation. The ambiance of the living quarters was miserable. I had a small shop with low ceiling and next to it a small, dark room without a window, about four square meters in size, behind which was a small work place featuring a wooden wall to the backyard which soon caused me to suffer from rheumatic pains.
A large blessing for the rapid growth of my small business was the lively growing interest which developed in the middle of the 70ies. This demand for works of artful style benefitted me especially through my connection to the circle of artists. A frequent sales item was a golden brooch with the head of Minerva in the middle with a green gold wreath, engraved on the edge or with red-brown enamel.
Also popular was a brooch and chain with a half-oxidized Georg coin and garnets. Again, however, it was the awakening Renaissance style which had the special influence on my works. I became better known in public through the gradual build up of the library in the Museum of Trades and also through the yearly Christmas marts in the House of Architects. So the business grew from year to year. The space became to small for me and in the year 78 I rented a larger shop in the Potsdamerstrasse # 3. In the back I had 2 rooms to work in and in the front one room for my residence. Then came the year 79 notable for the Berlin Trade Exihibition in the so called “wet triangle “near the Lehrter train station. It was here that my small display case of renaissance works received the attention of general public. The flattering newspaper reviews, the publication of my works in pictures included in the illustrated newspapers were a fantastic advertisement for me and grew the customer base of my business even more. The debts that I incurred at the beginning with Fritz had been paid off some time ago.
The restless and demanding activities during long years, which put all thoughts of physical well being in the background made themselves known through hysterical, nervous sufferings and the wish for an ordered, healthy life style gave me the idea of thinking of marriage. I did not have any social occasions where I could have found a beginning of a friendship. Where I was fortunate to have a chance for this came through my friend Marie Löscher who, during family evenings arranged by her, saw to it that I was introduced to Miss Toni Hartmann. Soon we understood each other and since father-in-law professor Hartman seemed to have no objections, the question of dowry was soon settled, we celebrated our engagement on September 25. I was by now 36 years old and Toni not too young anymore. Nothing stood in the way since living quarters and work place were available, and on March 12,1881 – a bitterly cold day – our wedding took place in the old, beautiful Nikolai Church. Less appealing in my memories were the engagement visits in environments totally strange to me. Our good sister-in-law Sophie and brother-in-law Hans had taken on the tasks of arranging n their apartment both the bachelors’ party and the meal for the wedding. At the bachelors’ party I was surprised to learn that already 7 others had already enthusiastically bid for the hand of my bride. There are three special memories of my wedding day: first tat ¼ hour before I set foot in the cab to the wedding, already in the tux with white jacket, I sold a renaissance necklace; second that I had some extremely tight patent leather boots which caused me extreme pain in the afternoon during the meal; and lastly, when we returned very late to our home, we found a large transparency in bright flames. On the wedding day I had bought an old silver coin, which depicted a pair in front of the altar having blessed by a preacher, a coin I still own today. We did not make a honeymoon trip, rued that later on because the expected comfortable quietness at home was continually interrupted by visits from relatives and friends. On December 4 we were given our first child Gretchen. There is something wonderful about a small being that one is given. She developed into a very lovable being. She remained our happiness for only 5 ½ years because she passed away on July 26, 1887 due to a tricky disease, bran tumor. She rests now in the Matthäi Cemetery. On July 10,1883 our first boy, Achi, was born. On July15, 1885 our Hugo, as second and on September 17, 1889 our Georg was born.
After the successful year 1879 at the Berlin Trade Exposition the business grew in fast tempo from year to year. Unfortunately along with that mental exertions, I had to prepare all the drawings for my works on my own, in addition my kidney problems grew more and more. Our family doctor, Sanitätsrath Dr. Keuller, who kept watch over us after Dr. Hardberg, pushed for longer relaxation and trips. These trips I made in company with my business friend Scharhert and sometimes with my friend Torstick, who I got to know on the train during a trip to Teplitz. The most beautiful of these trips of enjoying nature’s phenomena was the one I made with Mr. Scharhert to Norway. Most often the quiet summer time was used to go with wife and children to the spas at the Baltic Sea, mostly Swienemünde, once also Zinnowitz. These stays may well have been the reason for awakening in our oldest son, Achi, the love of the sea, although he and we had no thought that his future would eventually lie on the water.
Hugo showed early on, at about age 4, a drawing talent and an artistic inclination. He now, at the time of entering 12th grade, was A awarded the one year service certificate and will come the Hanauer Goldsmith Academy and there, under the direction of Professor Wiere – a friend of my youth – prepare to someday practice the artful work in my store. Thus he may fulfill the fervent last wish to continue the work of my life, assisted by the youngest son, Georg, who already now documents a talent for business matters. Mr. Schöning and Mr. Pflug, the valued and efficient co-workers in my shop, will surely be the best advisers to my sons with their trusted dedication to me.
So, I actually could conclude my memories at this point, but I would like to add several occurrences, personalities and observations which seem to fit in as this point. First of all I want to remember the 25th anniversary of my store on October 1, 1900. Even if my success caused the envy and mistrust of small-minded competitors, so many of the most important large firms and colleagues offered such rich and sincere gifts and flowers, that, in truth, I was deeply touched. On the evening of that day a great feast was given in the honor of Toni and me, attended by about 33 gentlemen. The recognition and respect of my colleagues was also apparent in that I was, for long years, chairman of the free Society of Gold- and Silversmiths of Berlin and , as I retired from that position, was nominated as Honorable Chairman Emeritus. I also was honored to be Presider of the Goldsmith-Guild for one year, of which I am still an honorable member. My youngest son, Georg, is employed as merchant in the store. Our son, Achi, entered the Navy after graduating from college. He has since been promoted to Captain and is in command of the submarine – U7. He is engaged to Miss Alice Rohr from Halle and thereby has opened the anticipation of a heartily loved daughter-in-law.
By Peter Schaper, August 20, 2017
A natural question the reader of this might ask: What did happen to the great shop of Hugo Schaper after his death on 18 July, 1915? As Hugo had wished his sons Hugo a, George and Joachim all kept the store open throughout the turbulent 1920 and 1930ies. It was still a jewelry store in 1934, when I remember my mother taking me into it for a visit while she dropped off an item for repair (or renovation). It was certainly only my last name that allowed me to enter the premises under the watchful eye of my mother! According to a private communication from Hugo’s grandson, Joachim Schaper, “the Schaper store was closed when, in 1943, the declaration of Total War by the German government required all luxury businesses to close.” It is still possible to order Hugo Schaper’s works via the internet and many of the items are pictured on websites like Google. There are some items which are in the possession of members of the Schaper family and are fine specimen of Hugo’s talent. Several of these at shown in the attached figures for the pleasure of the reader.
A particular item of note is the photograph of the crown for Emperor Wilhelm II which was the handiwork of Hugo from the 1889 design by Emil Doepler as a model, which was executed by the court jeweler Hugo Schaper. It was never worn, but only used as a regal symbol in the last years of the German Empire. It is still in the possession of the Hohenzollern family.