MERKUR History

Perhaps everybody who hears the word Merkur thinks about a planet from our solar system. But someone also thinks about the Czech toy construction kit of same name. Merkur is the brand name of the train models and metal kits, which have been produced since the beginning of 20th century in Police nad Metují.

The beginnings date back to 1920, when Mr. Jaroslav Vancl established the company INVENTOR. Mr. Vancl produced a metal construction kit for children with the name INVENTOR. Parts of the construction kit were originally connected by metal hooks. This construction kit named INVENTOR had been produced for only five years. 

 In 1925 Mr. Vancl came with a new metal toy construction kit MERKUR. Parts of the kit are connected together with bolts and nuts (size M3,5). Thanks to this came the construction set closer to real construction. This new system was registered under a trademark MERKUR. The first series of the set had numbers 1 - 3. At the time of thirtieth and fortieth years of the last century, the construction sets have expanded to Nö 7. Came boom of construction sets MERKUR. At that time arose now forgot kit of buildings METROPOL and POPULAR, where were used brand-new parts. In 1933 started to produce kits with possibilities to build some electric models MERKUR ELEKTRUS. Development carried on to the beginning of the Second World War only with small edits of boxes, instructions and parts.

About 1930 began development of the metal electric trains MERKUR. Originally were railway's vehicles drawn as offset to MERKUR set. They were manufactured as a construction sets lots, which were connected with screws and nuts. In Europe very popular size "O" was selected. Because were required assemble products, independent train production was quickly developed. Head designer was Mr. František Jirman, son-in-law of Mr Vancl. Model for the first locomotive was at that time very popular express locomotive Mikádo. In unpretentious surroundings was model simplified. With locomotive were supplied four wheeler wagons - service, personal and cargo. Also this simplified model was very good at market that is why designer F. Jirman in 1935 suggested bigger type of express locomotive with axletree 1C1, which was against real shortened only of one axle on the front bogie. Locomotive was competed with eight-wheel tank-engine and made very successful express formation. It was the successful beginning of the trains MERKUR, which became later the most widespread and the most favourite type of electrical trains in our country. In 1940 was production stopped because of wartime absence of non-ferrous metals. At that time was made limited edition of cars with bilingual protectorate mark ČMD/BMB.

Production was restored after the war in 1947. Line of goods was completed step by step about new types of wagons like for example, flat wagon, stake, open and close cargo, railway tank and cooling wagon. Over the last period was original steam locomotive made up by epitome B1 in light blue colour. Change came after the nationalization, which also affected in the second wave average and small producers and businessman's. At the beginning of the 50. years was Mr. Vancl´s private company cancelled and production in 1953 became a part of The District combine in Broumov. In February in 1955 was presented a new request for registration of the trade-mark MERKUR and his construction set and trains with metals and transformer. Producing of this kit continued almost whole pre-war period. Trains definitely stopped its production in 1968. In further years were unfortunately tools for producing trains destroyed.

Metal construction set MERKUR was from 60. years exported by Metal-company Broumov exported to the whole Europe. Very interesting was that in English this kit was in instruction called as system Meccano. Original meaning of this word in English was kit, but this title was in 90. years infirmed because of company MECANO, that demanded in International court in Haag compensation. For the reason of desappearance of the company Kovopodnik and Komeb, quarrel at law hadn't been handled. Came about a next change in numbering kits and arise kits M310, M320, M330 and M340.

After the Velvet revolution in 1989 was Kovopodnik in Broumov privatisationed. Thanks to ex-staff was made privatisation project and established company Komeb, which continued in producing construction sets MERKUR, but at the and of 1993 was the end.

At this time came Mr. Jaromír Kříž. He started making business in metal producing in the building, which obtained thanks to restitution after his grandfather.

First intention to buy a few machines from Komeb, but at the end arise idea to rent this company in liquidation and try to restore standing production of MERKUR. But a few days later was on the company Komeb proclaimed first competition in the Czech Republic, which complicated whole situation. Mr. Kříž didn't give it up and began to discuss with referee in bankruptcy about possibility of surrounding, because it wasn't possible to step back from run over production. After the long parley, during three years he restored production and saved the best known toy in the Czech Republic. Company Meccano from France had an interest too, because of destroying his biggest competitor. Only too little lack and construction set MERKUR could stay in our memories. Happily it didn't happen and MERKUR lives and is successful inland and abroad also.

Every year the company come with a new type of the kit. In 2003 KITTY HAWK was made for the anniversary 100 years from the first brothers Wright fly. In 2004 MERKUR SAFARI set was novelty. Also were developed according to famous MERKUR ELEKTRUS new construction sets MERKUR ELEKTRO E1 and ELECTRONIC E2 for advances with electricity, magnetism and electronic. Besides the company produce electric demonstrational kit EMA in terms of educational programme "Energy for everybody" ČEZ company. Chief product is construction set M8, which contains 1405 parts including electric motor. In the last two years we have fixated on perfection of manuals to the kits MERKUR, which are now drawing in the peak computer program Solid Edge.

We are concerned in national and international toy fairs. About permanent interest show awards from 1996 and 1997 for the best toy .Toys are exported firstly to the Western Europe.

To the Benelux was offered in outlets Bart Smith under the name TECC. To the Germany was sold like SCHUCO-TECHNIC. From 2001 to 2004 was MERKUR exposed on the world toy exhibition in USA in New York and in Canadien Toronto. In 2004 we were concerned of a toy fair in Moscow.It was for the first time, when Merkur got to the states of the former Soviet Union.