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Schwabe & Co.

Schwabe & Co. was founded in 1895 by two Schwabe brothers, Carl  and Hans in Berlin and by 1900 was providing electrotechnical supplies as a distributor for Siemens. By 1906 they hired Eugen Vogel (sales) and Arthur Reiche (technical) who founded the Theatre Lighting dept, supplying the needs of challenging directors such as Max Reinhardt. The first catalogue was issued in c1913 advertising cyclorama, acting area and spot lighting, effects projectors and artificial fire effects. They supplied the massive fire effect for the 1911 performance of Reinhardt’s The Miracle at London’s Olympia Hall. The famous stage engineer Walter Unruh also worked for Schwabe for a short while. The depression after WW1 led Schwabe to branch out into emergency lighting for theatres and cinemas, as well as advertising lighting. A second more extensive theatre lighting catalogue was issued in 1921, following the curious style of the first, describing the dramatic effects their products could achieve rather than their technical features. In 1923, the British GEC become an agent for Schwabe for Britain and its colonies.
Carl Schwabe died in 1924 but Schwabe continued as important theatre lighting suppliers, supplying all the lighting for the experimental stage erected at the 1927 Deutsche Theaterausstellung  (German theatre exhibition) held in Magdeburg. However in 1930/31 the company closed and the business and products passed amicably to Reiche and Vogel via their company Reiche und Vogel Leuchtkunst GmbH. R&V inherited the Schwabe history and survived WW2, however their historical records were destroyed. A more extensive history is given in “Schwabe-Hasait Cyclorama Lighting: A British failure but a window on a revolution in stagecraft” below.
See Reiche & Vogel on the archive.

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  • Max Reinhardt (1873-1943)

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