Anton Tobias (1777-1849) was an extraordinarily successful personality in Brake. In 1802, he opened at the age of 25 initially a bakery. He sold his bread to the crews of the numerous ships moored in Brake. Thereby, he laid the foundation for his subsequent wealth. Shortly thereafter, he founded a brewery, a shipping line, a shipyard and a train oil distillery. Above all, his son Christian Tobias (1803-1876) was involved with a fleet of 13 ships, including the barque "Azaria", displayed as a model in the Maritime Museum, in hunting down seals and whales near Greenland as well as in the South Pacific. The inscription on the facade of the storehouse, first built in 1890, reminds us of the bygone era.
From a Baker to a Ship Chandler
In the course of his journeyman experience, Anton Tobias arrived as a baker in Brake, and he operated his own bakery as early as 1802 in Fünfhausen (to the south of the current boundaries of Brake). Initially, he limited his services to citizens in the immediate vicinity. However, the increasing siltation of the Weser, which later led to the Weser correction, and the corresponding rise in the number of vessels steering into Brake´s harbor did not escape his attention. The baking master concentrated his efforts more and more on providing the ships with victuals. He soon delivered other types of supplies to the sailing vessels. The baker expanded into the business of ship chandlery.
Relocation and ExpansionThe new business was so successful that Tobias was able to acquire a plot in the „New Facility“. The new property which he built for his expanding business in the street Breite Strasse consisted of two gabled houses – a place of residence and a stable for animals. A brewery with a bar was located on one side of garden. The “mini-enterprise” encompassed a bakery, a brewery, a restaurant, livestock trade, wine import and a ship chandlery, and all business tended to flourish.
The Son takes over
It is not clear when Christian Tobias (1803 – 1876) entered into the family business. Anton Tobias built up a packing house (near the Maritime Museum today), and he used this location as of 1835, following the wedding of his son Christina, as an apartment. At this time, his son probably already participated in business operations. In 1849, Christian Tobias assumed complete control of the company. He focused his attention primarily on shipping, notably on the whaling industry. His fleet soon consisted of 13 ships, among them the “Azaria”, and he also owned a train oil distillery in Brake. He also founded a shipyard, but he leased it instead of managing it himself.
The worldwide Depression of 1857Even Brake was hit by the first worldwide economic depression in 1857. Beginning with the insolvent bank “Ohio Life Insurance“ in the USA, the crisis spread rapidly towards Europa. Christian Tobias had to file for bankruptcy, selling nearly all he had. He retreated to his country estate in Falkenberg, his first son Ernst Tobias (1831 – 1914) stayed initially with his mother in Brake.
New Beginning and DisappearanceUp until his death in 1914, Ernst Tobias kept managing the company to the maximum extent possible. Just like his predecessors, he had a good business sense. His greatest legacy was certainly his participation in the founding of the steamship line Oldenburgisch-Portugiesische Dampfschiffsreederei (OPDR), this was sold to the shipping line CMA CGM in 2014.
In 1914, Friedrich Tobias, the only son of Ernst, became the successor. He only continued the wine trade, and he relocated the business with his private domicile in the vicinity of Bremen shortly after the First World War. Since the 1920s, the company has not been in Brake.
Experiences in the museum
Learn more about the ship "Azaria" and the whaler’s of the Lower Weser region in the Telegraph. Discover Scrimshaw, ship portraits and reports from witnesses of the time period of the 19th and 20th centuries.
G. Kimme’s diary – who was aboard the whaler „Bremen“ and the interview with Gotthold Richter on the whalers of the Onassis fleet are the particular highlights
Maritime Museum - Telegraph, Kaje 8, 26919 Brake - 1st floor
Additional information and offers
Culture Call: For this station, there is a CultureCall available, provided by BrakeVerein.
Click the logo to reach the entry, or call one of the following numbers and select Station 15.
German: +49 4401 / 102-102
Low German: +49 4401 / 102-103