History of Made in Germany

With the steadily growing globalization in the second half of the 19th century, trade in the European single market increased sharply. At that time, Great Britain was the leading industrial nation in Europe. Many European nations tried to build on this success and copied successful British products.

German plagiarism floods the British domestic market

Especially the knives and scissors from the British Sheffield, famous at that time for their high quality, suffered from imitation products from continental Europe. Cutting tools were also exported to England from the Wilhelmine Empire, but they were often made of inferior cast iron.

Qualitatively, these imported products had no chance against the „Sheffield made“ tools made of cast steel. Due to the great similarity to the British products and the favorable prices made possible by the use of cast iron, the imported products found numerous buyers.

Introduction of a designation of origin

In order to protect the domestic economy from these European „plagiarisms“, the British government introduced a labeling obligation for imported products. As a result of the Merchandise Marks Act of 1887, all imported goods had to be marked with the country of origin.

Due to its position as an exporting nation with a strong interest in the free flow of international goods, the introduction of protective tariffs was out of the question for England. In 1891, the „Madrid Agreement on the Suppression of False Indications of Origin on Goods“ came into force, which numerous European countries ratified and thus committed themselves to clear indications of origin.

Beginning rise of the quality label Made in Germany

But the plan to force German products off the market through mandatory labeling failed quite quickly. German industry made up for the competitive disadvantages dramatically within a short period of time by the end of the 19th century.

Thanks to high-quality products with an optimal price-performance ratio, the label „Made in Germany,“ which was actually intended as a warning, quickly advanced to become a seal of quality. Increasing confidence in German products ultimately also ensured the explosive growth of the German economy at the turn of the century. The economic miracle that followed the end of the Second World War further consolidated the Made in Germany myth.