Hornvarefabrikken – The Hornware Factory – is part of an interesting history stretching back 200 years. It is a story of poor local artisans in the moorlands of Denmark’s far West, two economic crises, one World War, two incapacitating accidents, a visionary entrepreneur, and great ambitions.
During the Penisular War from 1807-14, a Danish marine – Knud Høj from Nees Parish – was captured in England. While he was a prisoner of war, he learned the art of making spoons from horn. When he returned to his native country, he started a small production of hornware. Others were inspired to learn the craft as well, as the poor subsistence farmers in the area could always use a secondary source of income.
In the 19th Century, spoons were often the only kind of cutlery used in rural areas. People would simply wipe down their spoons after a meal and hang them from the roof rafters. Wooden spoons were the most common, but metal spoons were becoming increasingly popular.
One of the people who took up horn working was Hans Husted, who was born in Nees in 1834. He passed on the craft to his son, Peder Husted, who was born in Bøvlingbjerg. A work-related accident prompted Peder to take up horn spoon making again in 1931, as he could no longer work the farm.
He expanded the business early on with shoehorns and mustard spoons made to order. The foundation for Hornvarefabrikken had been laid.
Peder Husted moved his production from his private residence to its present location in 1935, founding Hornvarefabrikken in the process. He was a visionary man with great ambitions and went on to win a Silver Medal for his work at the 1935 World Fair in Brussels.
Peder Husted designed and developed many of the spoons and other items sold by Hornvarefabrikken to this day. Peder will be remembered as a founder, a designer, and a visionary. His personal drive and courage – in the face of one of the greatest economic recessions ever – is awe-inspiring.
In 1958, Peder Husted entrusted Hornvarefabrikken to his son and daughter-in-law, Asger and Eva Husted. The couple managed to carry on Peder’s life work in keeping with his ideal of focus on craftsmanship.
The demand for horn goods saw a decline from the end of the 1950s and into the 1960s. However, Asger and Eva were able to gradually expand their distribution network to stores in Denmark and export to Germany. Eva’s talent for economy and ability to stretch every penny is no doubt a large part of the reason that Hornvarefabrikken still exists today.
Eva and Asger Husted were determined that horn working should continue in Bøvlingbjerg if possible. In 1990, they passed over the business to Inga and Agner Andersen, as direct generational succession was not in the cards.
It was not a work-related accident, but a broken leg from a football injury that made it impossible for Agner Andersen to continue his carpenter’s business in the late 1980s. Agner saw an opportunity to make use of his versatile background as a craftsman to renew and develop the potential of Hornvarefabrikken.
Inga and Agner set to work renovating the production facilities, shop, and other buildings. Their work was successful, and growth continued through the 1990s.
In 2007, the couple began to think about retirement. The future of Hornvarefabrikken was uncertain, as there were no obvious candidates for succession. 200 years of artisanship and cultural history looked set to disappear forever, when Sara Bruun Buch stepped into the shop to do some Christmas shopping in November of 2007.
Sara Bruun Buch recognised Hornvarefabrikken’s potential straight away, and knew that she had to own the business. She dispatched her farther-in-law, Olav Buch, to enquire about the possibility of a sale. Inga and Agner did not dismiss the idea, but would only sell to a person who could carry on the tradition of first-rate craftsmanship.
Luckily, they were delighted with Sara’s skill as an artisan. As of October 1, 2008, she has taken on the responsibility of continuing Hornvarefabrikken and expanding to new business areas in keeping with the tradition of the craft. Sara Bruun Buch is a graduate of the Arts & Craft College in Kerteminde, Denmark.
Hornvarefabrikken Aps. legalities
Hornvarefabrikken Aps. is a limited liability company registered as no. 32666663 with the Central Business Register. Hornvarefabrikken Aps. is fully owned by Sara Brunn Buch and Peder Frølund Buch, who make up the Board and daily management. Currently, the company has four employees.
The jewellery brand ‘Sara Brunn’ is a secondary name under Hornvarefabrikken Aps.