A cigarette box - .935 silver - Ernst Gideon Bek - Germany - Early 20th century

A cigarette box - .935 silver - Ernst Gideon Bek - Germany - Early 20th century
Good condition - used with small signs of aging & blemishes - 63 g

A magnificent cigarette / snuff box

Unique design and shape - solid silver - signed 935 - maker mark

Hand crafted by Ernst Gideon Bek - Germany - 1900

Ernst Gideon Bek
German jewelry retailer and manufacturer, founder of the company of the same name
To edit
Ernst Gideon Bek (born April 18, 1872 in Pforzheim, † July 27, 1945) was a German businessman and entrepreneur. His company, which was founded in Pforzheim in 1897, produced fashion items and was known in the 1920s as a manufacturer of ring-mesh handbags and purses. In addition, in 1906 he founded the “Garden City Sonnenberg” in Pforzheim. He was an honorary senator from the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen.

Edit life

Ernst Gideon Bek was born in Pforzheim in 1872. The parents owned a small nursery and were devout Methodists. Bek attended secondary school in Pforzheim, after which he did a commercial apprenticeship at the Rothacker company in Pforzheim. He then worked as a foreign language correspondent for the companies Kinzinger in Pforzheim and Baer in Hanau. In 1893 he was the general representative of the Pforzheim jewelry industry at the Chicago World's Fair.

In 1897 he founded the Ernst Gideon Bek company, which quickly became internationally known, so that after a few years there were branches in Birmingham, Paris, Toronto, New York City, Newark and India. From 1897 to 1914 Bek traveled to the United States more than 100 times and met Emilie Binder, a daughter of German emigrants in 1898, whom he married in 1899.

Since Bek's business flourished, in 1906 he acquired Sonnenberg, located in the Büchenbronn district of Pforzheim, and realized his dream of founding a garden city on the outskirts of Pforzheim with the Gartenstadt Sonnenberg GmbH he had founded. In 1907, a weekend home for the Bek family with a surrounding park was first built on a 400-acre section of the site. The entire Sonnenberg site was opened in 1910 and numerous homes and a terrace café were built there according to plans by the Stuttgart architect Linder.

With the outbreak of the First World War, most of Bek's foreign branches were closed or confiscated. Bek entered into cooperations in neutral European countries outside of Switzerland (Switzerland, the Netherlands, Scandinavia) and was able to avert bankruptcy due to the closure of the old branches during the war. After the First World War, Bek went on a trip abroad, especially to the United States, in the service of needy German science, for which he collected numerous donations, for which he was appointed honorary senator of the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen.

The construction on the Sonnenberg, which ended after the outbreak of the war in 1914, could only be continued in 1927. Bek was appointed to the supervisory board of the Association of Friends, one of the first German building societies, in 1928. At that time Bek also made a name for himself as a rose grower. Public rose exhibitions and awards took place on the Sonnenberg.

Since the demand for ring-shaped handbags and purses was very high internationally in the 1920s, Bek quickly founded numerous new subsidiaries and branches. a. also in Menorca, as well as two production plants in Pforzheim: the automatic ring braid factory GmbH and the machine factory Becker & Bittrolf. Bek's ring mesh accessories were popular around the world, so almost no other items were produced by the company. The commitment to a single product should turn into a disadvantage when ring mesh accessories went out of fashion towards the end of the decade. A large part of the once over 500 employees had to be laid off, branches were closed and the machine factory was no longer needed because there was no longer any demand for ring mesh machines. The global economic crisis that began in 1929 also resulted in large losses in outstanding claims against US customers. In October 1931, a foreclosure procedure was finally initiated.

Bek tried to open up new sales markets for his products through tireless travel, but went to the max and suffered a stroke in July 1932 after returning from a trip to Italy, from which he could not fully recover. In 1934 he therefore handed over the business to his two sons Wesley Bek (* 1903) and Sigfrid Orville Bek (* 1909), who founded the company as E.G. Bek & Co. KG and were able to blossom again. The parent company in Pforzheim was destroyed in the air raid on February 23, 1945. Ernst Gideon Bek died on July 27, 1945 at the age of 73.

Editing literature

Sigfrid Bek, Paul Kuder: Ernst Gideon Bek on memory, Pforzheim 1945.

Lot details
A cigarette box
.935 silver
Designer/ Artist
Ernst Gideon Bek
Manufacturer/ Brand
Ernst Gideon Bek
Art Deco
Estimated Period
Early 20th century
Country of Origin
Good condition - used with small signs of aging & blemishes
1×5×8 cm
63 g
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