Joseph Anton von Maffei (1790–1870)

Joseph Anton von Maffei was one of the outstanding Germany engineering entrepreneurs of the nineteenth century. He was born in Munich, the son of Pietro Paulo Maffei (1754-1836) an Italian tobacco trader, and his first job was in his father’s business, but by 1835 he was involved in banking. He obtained sufficient capital to establish the engineering company J A Maffei in the Englischer Garten, Munich in 1836 which produced its first locomotive, Der Münchner in 1841. The company produced its 500th loco in 1864. Der Münchner was built for the railway from Munich to Augsburg, in which Maffei invested. It became part of the state railway, Königlische Bayerische Staats-Eisenbahn from 1846, and was extended to Ulm in 1854. The company also built steam ships, the first of them Maximilia, completed in 1851 to sail on the Starnberger See. By 1926 the Maffei Company had built 44 steam ships. Maffei also invested in textile mills in Augsburg, and in the Bayerische Hof hotel built in 1841, and was involved with several banks.

By 1930 Maffei’s company had built 5,500 steam and electric locomotives, but it went into bankruptcy that year and in 1931 was amalgamated with the Augsburg firm Krauss to form Krauss Maffei. Since the 1950s it has specialised in military vehicles and is now part of Siemens AG.

The company’s outstanding memorial is the four-cylinder compound locomotive No 3634 of class S3/6 of the Bavarian State Railways, later 18.451 of Deutsches Bundesbahn. It was built in 1912 and was one of
159 of a class built between 1908 and 1931, worked all over Germany, most famously on the Rheingold express between the Dutch frontier and Basel. The 4-6-2 (2.3.1 in continental notation) locomotive was one of the first in Europe to have American style bar frames. It was placed with much ceremony in the Deutsches Museum in 1958. Others examples of the class worked till 1965, and several are preserved elsewhere in Germany.