Jean (Johan) Bolinder

Jean Bolinder's training was much like Johan Theofron  Munktell's. They both had the same teacher and both drew inspiration from England.

Jean Bolinder, christened Johan, was born in 1813 in the Parish of Vaksala outside Uppsala, Sweden. His father was a rector. After some years in the Uppsala Cathedral School, Jean was forced to break off his studies at the age of 16 when the family faced difficult financial circumstances.

Jean had technical talent and an aunt in Stockholm arranged for him to take a position as trainee with mining and metallurgical engineer Gustaf Broling, who was also Munktell's first teacher. At the Ironmasters' Association annual meeting in 1831, Jean Bolinder demonstrated a bronze model of a bellows machine to the ironworks owners, for which he was awarded 100 Riksdaler. He continued making models of machines for ironworking and in 1835 he made a model for a high-pressure machine. The society bought the model for 300 Riksdaler and also gave Jean Bolinder a reward of 200 Riksdaler.


Jean at the Mint
When Johan Munktell left his position as Master Mechanic at the Royal Mint in 1834, Jean Bolinder took over. He continued in the same spirit, inventing new machinery for minting coins.

Bolinder's technical know-how drew acclaim and in 1838 he was offered employment at Nyby Bruk for an annual wage that was four times as much as he had at the Royal Mint. According to another offer, he had the opportunity to become a partner in a newly-started engineering workshop. He turned both of these down, however, because he wanted to travel abroad and learn more about his profession. For three years, he saved and studied English in his spare time. When he was ready to go, he was given a grant of 100 pounds from the society and a further 50 pounds from the Chamber of Commerce. In July 1842, Jean went to England together with his brother Carl Gerhard. After a year studying at a number of different companies, he returned to Sweden, his mind - like Munktell's - full of new ideas about iron production.
The entrepreneur
When he came home, Jean Bolinder planned to start his own company. However, he kept his position at the Royal Mint until the end of 1844. Together with his brother, Carl Gerhard, he acquired an old plant by Lake Klara in Stockholm. A lot of work was required in order to equip the workshop and operations were not under way until 1845. The premises housed a smithy, an engineering shop and a foundry. To begin with, the factory mainly worked on repairs, but soon they also began to make machinery and foundry products. The Bolinders' operations grew rapidly and several extensions were required to the premises.


Accounting problems
In 1873, it emerged that the accounts had been handled very badly over the past five years. This had been the responsibility of Jean and Carl Gerhard's other brothers Per and Anton. The only way to save the firm was to restructure it as a joint stock company. Jean and Carl took over practically all the shares. In 1881, the brothers sold a large portion of their shares to employees and outsiders and left the direct management of the company. They came back, however, in 1888 when the earlier managing director retired for reasons of health. During the 1890s, one of Carl's sons presided over the company, but Jean remained on the Board until his death in 1899.

Jean Bolinder was a member of the Academy of Sciences and Agricultural Sciences for many years. He also received the Vasa and St. Olof Orders for his work in Swedish industry.