D&J Chronicle

More than 140 years of Deffner & Johann – a timeline


The company was founded by Carl Otto Deffner from Nördlingen, who married into the Belscher brush-making family and established a wholesale business in paintbrushes, general brushes and paints in Schweinfurt. The paints were sourced from the world-famous paintmakers, Sattler & Gademann (know as the makers of Schweinfurter Grün), while the paint brushes and general brushes were partly sourced from his parents-in-laws' production or fabricated locally by the sophisticated paintbrush industry that had developed in Nuremberg and the surrounding area.

The clientele at that time included mostly traditional painters with artistic expertise, those who specialized in general and church decoration, painting and gilding, as well as frame workshops, signwriters, calligraphers and workshops that were sufficiently competent to take on works of art, or commissioned to undertake restoration.


The founder's son, Albert Deffner, joined the company. The business expanded and the balance sheets in the company archives reflect the company's hard work and success.


The founder, Carl Otto Deffner died, and until 1918 sole management of the company passed to his widow and parents-in-law, as their son, Albert, returned to work at the company some time after the First World War had ended. Very difficult times lay ahead, and with the change in currency and the global economic crisis, almost everything was lost that the previous generation had worked for.


Albert Deffner died. His son, Karl Deffner, took over the company after studying for a doctorate in business administration and economics. This was one of the most difficult times in the company's history, wrought by the Second World War and its immediate aftermath. All was nearly lost – the only thing remaining of the company being a card index of customers and suppliers.


Currency reform provided the impetus for a new start at Carl Deffner, as it did for many others. They were on their way to a better future - with optimism, hard work and perseverance. Business contacts were re-activated and developed. The sales force went out into the field and covered the entire region of southern Germany and eastern Switzerland, traveling first by bicycle and rail and from 1950 in the company’s VW.


Mr. Harald Johann joined Carl Deffner as an apprentice. Having successfully completed his apprenticeship, he first worked in the office and then in the following two decades took over the entire sales force. The clientele increased enormously with the introduction of new products. As a result, a thoroughly modern specialist wholesaler evolved and developed at a pleasing rate of growth.


Carl Deffner celebrated its 100th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the company received a certificate of merit from the Chamber of Commerce & Industry in recognition of its special contribution to the economy in the Main-Franconia area.


The name of the business was changed from Carl Deffner to Deffner & Johann GmbH. Harald Johann became the Managing Director of the company while Dr. Karl Deffner stepped down from the business.


The first symposium was held to promote Lascaux Restauro products and was attended by more than 100 participants. Since then, Deffner & Johann has been a major distributor of Lascaux Restauro products in Germany.


The company expanded and moved from Schweinfurt to the outlying district of Röthlein. The range was once again widely extended and the first catalogue was printed. This represented an important step toward the company's future as a mail order specialist wholesaler focused on the European market.


With the opening of borders in Europe, Deffner & Johann also began to look to the east. "A warm welcome..." was our greeting to all those who collaborated with us as business partners and "Let's make a difference together" was our motto. We know that our products met customer requirements at that time as we have a large number of satisfied customers who are still with us today and consider themselves to be in good hands.


The first data processing systems were installed and ushered in the computer age at Deffner & Johann. A little later on, the first fax machine came into service and staff stood in amazement examining the first orders as they creaked slowly out of the machine.


First Restauro trade fair in Ulm. The restoration and conservation industry had now acquired an independent platform. Deffner & Johann took part, pitching itself as a high-performance specialist wholesaler.


At the turn of the millennium, Deffner & Johann celebrated its 120th anniversary.


A decisive year, as more than 6,000 catalogues were dispatched - some 6.6 tons were on their way. In the same year, the company arrived on the internet. It was a decision of global importance as the many thousands of visitors to the website per week demonstrate the importance of an online presence. 


At the denkmal 2004 show in Leipzig, Deffner & Johann GmbH was awarded a Gold Medal and certificate for outstanding achievement in heritage conservation in Europe for its impressive range of restoration materials, literature and dedicated equipment.


Anniversary celebrations! 125 years of Deffner & Johann GmbH.


In the Autumn of 2006, the new Deffner & Johann four-colour "2007/2008 Art & Restauro" catalogue was printed with a print-run of 10,000 copies and distributed in more than 40 countries throughout the world.


130 years of Deffner & Johann, and in this anniversary year the management of the company transferred from Harald Johann to Ralph-Uwe Johann. As it passed to the fifth generation of the family, the company underscored its respect for market continuity and loyalty to its customers and suppliers.

In addition to anniversary promotions, trade shows and conference attendance were added many new products and enhancements to the range.

Deffner & Johann launched its new online shop. The storage area was converted and its handling capacities further expanded.


Deffner & Johann sent its General Catalogue 2011/2012 to customers in more than 60 countries.


Deffner & Johann celebrates its 135th anniversary.


Deffner & Johann wins Bavarian Export Prize 2018.


(Stand: 20.01.2020_SJ)

© Deffner & Johann GmbH