The industrial revolution turned Germany into the third largest industrial nation in the world. And in Suhl the craftsman’s workshops turned into manufactories and later into gun factories. The Merkel brothers wanted to be a part of the unprecedented transformation of the national economy at the turn of the 19th Century. Albert Oskar, Gebhard and Karl Paul Merkel came from a long line of engravers, stock makers and gunsmiths – and a family with many children. All eleven sons of the family found their way into the gunmaking trade. Albert Oskar and Gebhard Merkel were master gunsmiths. Karl Paul Merkel followed as a master stock maker – they formed a trading company “for the purpose of the joint manufacture of firearms and other articles. ” On the 1st September 1898 the company started running in the second district. This was the start of a development that is remarkable even in the gunmaking town of Suhl. During the formative years of the company the manufacture of hunting, sporting and luxury guns was booming in the old gunmaking town. The mechanical design of these guns was more elaborate and technically variable than military rifles. Merkel was committed to the “fine gun” at all times; even in wartime it was never more than a parts supplier for military production.