A. Trub & C.
A.Trüb & Cie started in 1859 in the Swiss town of Aarau as a printing shop. In 1880, the control of the business passed on to Jakob Müller who, in 1884, entered into an association with August Trüb.

In 1890, the company operated 8 printing presses and employed 60 workers. It's owners wanted to expand the business and bought a smaller printer in Lausanne. The oldest Trüb luggage labels date from the early 1890s and are marked "Müller & Cie, Aarau" or "Müller & Cie, Lausanne".

By 1896 the labels were being marked "Müller & Trüb" and the company's quality work was already renowned in Europe. The partners felt the time was ripe for a foreign expansion but disagreed on a basic strategy. Jakob Müller, who held a majority share, was intent on establishing foreign subsidiaries, while August Trüb favored export from their homeland. In 1897 and 1898 two subsidiaries were established in Bucharest (Romania) and Como (N. Italy). Both ventures failed with substantial losses which led to a split between the two partners. In the end, Trüb managed to put together the sum necessary to buy Müller's share and in January 1903 August Trüb gained control of the business and from this time on, the printer's luggage labels were marked "A.Trüb & Cie".

Under August Trüb's directorship an ambitious plan of expansion began. He established a network of agents and used traveling salesmen to secure orders from Italy, France, Spain, Russia and as far as Eastern Asia. But Trüb recognized that although the printing craftsmanship of his company was flawless, he could not compete in terms of styling with his Italian and French counterparts. His answer was to contract the work of Italian artists, including Leonida Edel and E. Buffetti (from 1903) and Luigi Dalmonte (some ten years later). The fact that the work of these international artists was predominantly used on foreign orders shows how clear-minded and determined Trüb was in his drive for foreign business.

Of the three Italian artists, the known work of L. Edel is particularly relevant. He did Art Nouveau posters for hotels in a style that was somewhat similar to Mario Borgoni. In particular he used the same darkened curvaceous frame which included part of the lettering. Edel met a young 19 year old apprentice who had joined the company in 1902. His name was Otto Ernst and he would soon become the printer's specialist in hotel posters and labels.

A few other artists employed by Trüb were Jakob Nohl (who later established his own printing business in Schaffhausen), P.Tanner, E.Lutz, and K.Frey.

The World War 1 was a difficult time for Trüb. Switzerland mobilized to defend its neutrality and business dwindled because of both a lack of skilled workers and a sharp reduction in orders. The postwar recovery saw Trüb's finest years in both the number of labels printed and the global growth of business, with a significant penetration in South America, particularly in Cuba and Colombia.

After about 1926, the labels were marked "A.Trüb & Cie, Aarau-Lugano" but seemingly all the printing was done in Aarau and the Lugano branch was merely an office and sales outlet.

In 1929 the business was thriving but the October crash in Wall Street changed everything. Overseas markets evaporated and the production of hotel labels fell sharply but continued in moderate numbers until well after the Second World War.

If a style was to be associated with the hotel labels printed by Trüb, it would be Otto Ernst's. His designs always included the hotel building as the main focus of attention, but it is in his artwork for rural hotels where he achieved his best results. The building is totally integrated into the landscape with glittering color. There is often a "window" that may be made of darkened trees, columns, or purely geometrical. His best labels combine Italian artistry with Swiss geometric accuracy.

August Trüb passed away in 1922 after directing the company for 18 years. His sons would lead it on and steer it to safety through the difficult days of the Great Depression and the Second World War. Otto Ernst worked for Trüb & Cie for almost 50 years during which he designed a hundred posters, retiring in 1950. He would live for yet another 17 years.

(Edited from an article by Joao Mimoso)
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