The BIRKAN saga.

Episode 4: Widow Maria Kandlbinder takes over the management (1951 - 1965)

After the sudden death of Alois Kandlbinder on 15 September 1951, his 51-year-old widow Maria continued to run the company together with Ferdinand Birkner. She energetically continued her husband's life's work. Familiar with the printing trade from childhood through her uncle Julius Marchner – she had also worked in the printing house of his Neue Freie Volkszeitung – she was popular and recognised in printing circles. As a result, she not only managed to maintain customer and supplier relationships, but also to further expand the company. Well-known German magazines were printed using BIRKAN printing blankets.

Maria Kandlbinder took up the challenge of giving the company a solid foundation for the long term. She decided to expand the range of Birkner & Kandlbinder's own blankets, which were still produced at Metzeler, with English and American printing blankets and to work with companies such as Dunlop and Cow Proofings.

She also had to decide on the future of the company, which had now been in existence for almost 40 years. Ferdinand Birkner had retired in the early 1960s for health reasons and sold his shares to her. The son from Alois Kandlbinder's first marriage had died in the war, and Maria and Alois Kandlbinder had no children of their own who could have taken over. So Maria Kandlbinder brought her nephew Ludwig J. Marchner into the company management in 1963.

In the last years of her life, she was still able to enjoy the success of her and her late husband's work: on the company's 40th anniversary in 1964, she received so many flowers, congratulations and telegrams that she was completely overwhelmed. Almost at the same time, a multi-page tribute to Alois Kandlbinder, “Pioneer of rubber printing blankets”, appeared in the commemorative publication for the 80th anniversary of the Munich Letterpress Printers Association.

Maria Kandlbinder

Maria Kandlbinder
(1900 - 1966)

Special publication about Alois Kandlbinder

In 1964, a tribute to Alois Kandlbinder was published by the Munich Letterpress Printing Association, of which he was an extremely active member until the end of his life.

Sample of BIRKAN Double batiste

Original sample BIRKAN Silk

30 years BIRKAN

In 1954, Birkner & Kandlbinder celebrate their 30th anniversary with an original card.

Blanket production 1950s

Printing blanket conversion in Munich's Haidhausen district – then still a working-class neighbourhood (now gentrified)

BIRKAN Wool felt cardboard

Original sample of wool felt cardboard

BIRKAN printing sample Quick

One of the most widely read magazines of the 1950s in Germany: printed with BIRKAN printing blankets

BIRKAN production in Munich Haidhausen

Maria Kandlbinder with production employee (left) and Ferdinand Birkner (center).

Office of Birkner & Kandlbinder oHG

Offices at Wei├čenburger Platz 6 in the 1950s. Front right: co-owner Ferdinand Birkner, back left: Maria Kandlbinder.

High speed press blanket, three samples

Original samples of the high-speed press blanket


Exhibition stand at Drupa, where the company exhibited regularly from 1951 onwards