Due to the important zinc ore deposits of the region, the conditions for brass production were ideal at the time. Mainly Protestant families established through their skill and diligence the rapidly growing fame of brass and copper products from Aachen. At the beginning of the 17th century, the loss of the guild rights in Catholic Aachen forced the now homeless Protestant brass manufacturers to move. Eight families came to nearby Stolberg, a small settlement in the dukedom of Jülich-Cleve-Berg, the brass manufacturer Christian (1614-83) and his family being among them. In 1642 he settled down at Dollartshammer, the head office of the family company which is at the same location to this day. As his sisters Maria (bef.1610- 53) and Sara (1615-1696), he also married into the Peltzer family, one of the richest brass manufacturers of the region. Another sister, Catharina (1610-81), married Jeremias Hoesch (1610-53) in 1637.
In the 19th century the Pryms produced the first finished products made not only of brass, but also of steel and iron in addition to the rolled material and wires made of the traditional copper alloys. Under the management of William (1811-83) the company entered a new era of success. His son Heinrich August (1843-1927) did his apprenticeship in Birmingham and used the knowledge acquired there to introduce mechanical manufacturing of metal haberdashery in Germany.
Hans Friedrich (1875-1965), son of August, expanded the Austrian production and sales branches he had been leading since 1908, to a dominating position in the Austrian monarchy and the crown lands. In this period, in 1903, he made the ingenious improvement to the press fastener, already invented in 1885.
”Prym” and ”Prym’s Zukunft” (Prym’s future) became the earliest brand names of the 20th century, the stag – featured in the family’s coat of arms – with a needle in his antlers one of the most famous trademarks. In the following years, Hans’ great commitment was to the export business. Thus, not long after World War One, he established a business in Schweidnitz (Silesia), a branch in Berlin for sales in the East, and a subsidiary in the USA. In 1932, he modernised the brass rolling mill in Stolberg established prior to the turn of the century, despite the general lack of orders. A decision that turned out to be economically extremely successful. During World War Two, the company produced turbine blades and war related materials in addition to its rolled materials, wires and haberdashery; however, Hans never became a member of the National Socialist Party.
Following world War Two, the considerable possessions of the family and the company in Berlin, Eastern Germany, Poland and Belgium were lost. Despite initial problems, in the years following the war, Hans managed to expand the zip fastener business with the newly developed plastic zip, ”Prymalon”, as an addition to the traditional products. In 1960, after prolonged negotiations, he was successful in buying back all Austrian properties and rights, which was of essential importance, particularly regarding the ”Prym” brand name. His marriage to Russian-born Olga Gütschow (1884-1975) in 1903 produced six sons, four of whom worked in the company. From 1928-72, Hans-August (1904-82) was head of ”William Prym of America, Inc.”, while Axel (1907-89) and Dieter (* 1917) held leading positions in the Stolberg head office which was expanding towards the Far East and Central America. Following the withdrawal of the British group, ”Coats Viyella” (1976-93, with a 25% participation), the descendants of Heinrich Augusts once again became sole owners of the family company, probably the oldest in Germany.
After the strategically important sale of Prymetall (a leading manufacturer of semi-finished products of copper and copper alloys), the company as a holding is divided into three independent sectors with numerous subsidiaries both in Germany and abroad: Prym Consumer (sewing and needlework accessories), Prym Fashion (fastening systems and accessories), and Prymtec (contact and electronic components). Until today members of the Prym family are still involved in the management of the business. The family stands for continuity in the development of this group of companies.