Deumer: Riding the crest

Deumer: Ornate metal work for the Porsche crest

A golden glint, distinctive red and black stripes, stylised antlers and a rearing horse in the centre... Can you tell what it is yet? It is of course the famous metallic Porsche crest which is still hand produced by a traditional company in Lüdenscheid.

Porsche is certainly a brand that represents the epitome of dynamism and quality in vehicle manufacturing. Since the early 50s, the cars from Stuttgart have made a clear statement both about their drivers and high quality standards. When developing the first Porsche sports car, the Porsche 356, the company founder Dr. Ferdinand Porsche and his son Ferry wanted a logo featuring elements that made reference to the company's Swabian home. The crest was designed by the Porsche engineer Franz Xaver Reimspiess and has remained largely unchanged with red and black, the colours of the German state of Baden-Württemberg; the horse as a symbol of the 'Stuotgarten', meaning 'the stud farm', which was founded in the year 950 and later was to became Stuttgart; and the antlers, which are based loosely on the state symbol.

Porsche chose a company for the elaborate production that had proven itself as a leader in the field of metal processing for generations: the traditional German company founded in 1863 – Deumer in Lüdenscheid. At the company headquarters in the city of toolmaking and metal buttons, Deumer was the first German medal and badge factory to combine the region's age-old metal craft skills with the latest manufacturing techniques from around the world. The firm's owners, the Conze family, were able to perfect the processing of metals and pass on their artisan finesse from generation to generation. Precise engraving, stamping, polishing, grinding, plating, enamelling and galvanising have been the company's core business and passion to this day, with the firm now in its 6th generation under the direction of Johann Conze and Friedrich Assmann. Deumer offers a correspondingly high-end range: elegant collections of cufflinks, finely crafted tie pins, money clips and jewellery accessories all feature in the company's successful portfolio. Furthermore, the traditional Conze family business also manufactures high-class corporate gifts, awards and medals as well as badges for automotive companies and company emblems for law offices, hotels, banks and insurers around the world. Until 2009, Deumer produced 11,000 of the beautiful, surprisingly heavy original Porsche crests every month. These are now the preserve of classic vehicles and the spare parts sector, but aficionados can breathe easy: the elaborately crafted metal design in copper, enamel and gold can be ordered specially for new cars.

As perennial as Deumer, which has been based in Gartenstrasse in Lüdenscheid for 151 years, is the 25 employees' understanding of quality and perfection. 'Handmade in Germany' is a promise that they meet with the utmost care and precision. I was invited to see an original Porsche crest being produced, a process which involves more than 30 individual steps. The process begins at the engraver's, where a punch cutter creates the basis for the noble signet which is then reworked in detail by hand. Subsequently, the crest blanks are punched out of sheet copper and pressed into shape. The enamelling process was particularly interesting: mineral glass powder is processed and enriched – exactly how is quite rightly a company secret – and then applied as a thick liquid mass to the blanks. After it has dried, the surface appears powdery and granulated and is ready for further processing. 830 degrees of heat flow over the crest from below, causing the mineral glass powder mixture to liquefy and flow into the die-cut depressions. The different colours have different melting points – this is one of the challenges that have to be mastered perfectly. Once the enamelling is complete, the grinding machine is used over and over until the copper pieces within the crest become visible again. The surface is now almost finished – but it is still matt and the enamel fields still contain inclusions. After immersion in a cleaning liquid, the crest is heated a second time to liquefy the enamel and remove the inclusions. Following an additional purification process, the mounting pins are soldered to the back and the front is polished to a mirror finish. The badge is then gold plated in an immersion bath and inspected care-fully. Only then can another handmade Porsche crest be shipped in its individual packaging. The Deumer team works above all with affection and accuracy. For them, their craft is less a job and more a calling. They preserve traditional practices and techniques and show that real workmanship is a true art – an art that is demonstrated by the quality of each piece produced by Deumer. The Porsche crest is just one fine example.

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