Company Profile: TeMos

History in a Nutshell

In the late 1940s, Herbert Sammler of East Germany had the idea to produce railway models, and asked his friend Herbert Franzke, the leader of a workshop at the firm Erich Hertel in the East German city of Köthen, to help him. Their first product was an H0 Scale wagon, but it wasn't successful, so Sammler and Franzke turned their attention to railway building kits. The next step was to form their own company, but this required special authorization from the GDR, so they approached their friend Karl Urbantke, who had a business he wasn't using at the time. Thus began TeMos, short for Technische Modell Spielwaren (technical model toys). Because private businesses require a single director, the "Three Musketeers" voted to give Herbert Franzke the position.

The first years were problematic due to their lack of experience and tight finances, but the company slowly gained popularity. Unfortunately, Franzke's personal problems had him thinking about emigrating to Western Germany, but before he could, he was found out and imprisoned in 1953. He was released two months later when, during the East German uprising, political prisoners were granted amnesty. In 1960, many private enterprises were nationalized, and Temos-Werkstätte became Herbert Franzke KG. In 1972, TeMos again changed status as a nationalized company and became VEB Modellspielwaren Köthen. That same year, Herbert Franzke fell ill, and his role was assumed by his son Rüdiger.

H0, TT and N Scale products continued to be hand-fabricated by locals working in a family atmosphere at their plant in Köthen. TeMos exported their models to Finland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Austria and West Germany, but by late 1970s they were exclusively exported to Czechoslovakia and Poland. In 1980, a regional ordinance forced TeMos to begin manufacturing camping tables for export (VEB Campingmöbel Dessau); consequently, model production diminished substantially, and Rüdiger Franzke left the business in 1985. After political changes in the late 1980s, camping table production ended, but by September 1991, model production also ceased. Herbert Franzke died the next year at the age of 78, and in 2014, his son published a book about the history of TeMos.

I offer very special thanks to Robert Pavelka of Czechoslovakia, who translated Rüdiger's book with his permission, and kindly shared an abridged version with me.

N Scale Products

Their N Scale product line consisted of several lineside structure kits. The kits were originally made from wood, die-cut fiberboard and printed paper. Packaging comprised a plain cardboard box with a two- or three-color printed label.

Printed Matter

1969/70 catalog cover:

Cover of the book about the history of TeMos, courtesy of Robert Pavelka:

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