Made in Germany

I must be almost the last person to discover the origin of the Made in Germany label. (At least it doesn’t suffer from spelling or translation mistakes like Made in Hungaria or Fabriqué en Dinde).

It was introduced in 1887 in the British Merchandise Marks Act (the link incorrectly describes it as ‘americana’). To combat a flood of imports, these were ordered to be labelled by their country of origin. ‘Made in Germany’ was meant to show people that these were not good British goods, but inferior foreign goods. However, the opposite effect was achieved, because ‘Made in Germany’ became a mark of quality. On, Henry Rieck writes:

Ursprünglich handelte es sich bei dem Herkunftshinweis “Made in Germany” um eine Warnung. Er wurde von 125 Jahren in England erfunden, um die damals oft minderwertigen Waren aus Deutschland zu kennzeichnen. Doch schnell wurde die Qualität deutscher Produkte ausgesprochen gut. Und so wurde aus der Warnung ein “Gütesiegel”. Ab den 1970er-Jahren bis zur Wiedervereinigung wurde für Waren aus der Bundesrepublik die Kennzeichnung “Made in West Germany” und für Waren aus der DDR “Made in GDR” verwendet.

He goes on to remark on how many current ‘German’ products are largely made of imported materials.

This reminds me of the current complaints in the USA about ‘made in China’ (hm, my Honda was made in China).

Two Spiegel Online articles (in German) on how German products conquered the world.

Wikipedia (English) on Made in Germany.

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