Founded in 1886, the Draeger house has survived the 20th century, its two wars and its technical progress to become an essential publishing house, always at the forefront of innovation. From its beginnings to today, a look back at a unique family and entrepreneurial saga, built around sharing and the desire to enhance emotions.
CHARLES DRAEGER, THE FOUNDER
The Draeger story begins with Charles Draeger. Born in 1844, he learned the printing business from a very young age alongside his father Nicolas, who worked for a long time for the Bank of France. He was passionate about the profession and quickly became an expert color typographer, which led him to join the Lahure printing company in the 1860s. This company took an important place in the life of Charles Draeger and that of his couple, since its wife, Amélie Bagdassard, also joined it. The same goes for their three children, Georges, Maurice and Robert, who grew up among the presses and trained in different specialties. The Draeger couple then had the idea of starting a family business: after finding a workshop, they began the Draeger & Lesieur adventure on August 13, 1886. The Draeger family then put all their efforts into developing the printing business. and help him make a name for himself.
THE BIRTH OF DRAEGER FRÈRES
At Draeger, the emphasis was placed on specialization and the development of techniques, and workers tried all the modern processes of the time, such as trichrome or halftone engraving. The international exhibition of 1889 contributed to the reputation of the company and to developing its clientele: the family then considered expanding the company as orders abounded. In February 1889, she acquired a property in Montrouge, in the middle of market gardens and taverns. A few weeks later, Charles Draeger died suddenly - his widow Amélie then took charge of the company and changed its name so that it belonged entirely to her sons: this is how Draeger Frères was born.
A START OF THE CENTURY WITH FANCING
The year 1900 was fruitful for Draeger Frères: the company presented its brochures during the Universal Exhibition, while the emerging department stores, couture, fashion and automobile houses all called on the printing press to produce their prestige and precision work. A turning point occurred for the company, which devoted itself more to creation: the land acquired in Montrouge was then transformed to accommodate a factory and a living space. The company takes the opportunity to equip itself with cutting-edge machines and specialize in various techniques. During the First World War, the printing press adapted by manufacturing shell casings or by printing news bulletins for soldiers... The three brothers never stopped innovating, whether by traveling to the United States (Georges notably made a study trip across the Atlantic in 1919) or by installing a photo studio within the printing house to experiment even more.
From major luxury houses to artists, Draeger's collaborations have left their mark. Among the most memorable: the one with the Nicolas brand, which results in original and artistic creations to the glory of wine. The writing of certain advertising catalogs by the writers Colette and Jean Cocteau. In the 1920s, the greatest contemporary artists such as Braque, Picasso, Latour and Cassandre collaborated with Draeger and contributed to his fame. In 1929, Draeger took advantage of his exclusive spiral binding to Hermès to imagine a diary that would become cult. Without forgetting Peugeot, Ford, Chrysler, Lancôme, Coty or Guerlain, also use the services of Draeger to imagine and produce memorable advertisements...
FROM SUCCESS TO SUCCESS
Charles, Jacques and Marguerite, Georges Draeger's three children, grew up in the Montrouge workshops and developed a special bond with the family business. Charles and Jacques Draeger decided to continue their parents' work and faced a number of difficulties: during the Second World War, they fought against shortages; in the 1960s, they faced the development of technical progress which popularized printing techniques and made them accessible to everyone. In the meantime, the brothers understood that innovation also required the diversification of their activities: as a result, they acquired Éditions Yvon in 1956 and thus entered the world of stationery.
A new page in the history of Draeger is written with the three children of Jacques Draeger: Claude and Alain were born respectively in 1936 and 1937, Guy in 1947. Like their elders, they worked in the printing workshops and trained to the profession to learn how to retouch photos, adjust a print, put on a binding... Claude Draeger stands out in particular with the publishing of large format artists' books. The most memorable? “Draeger’s Dalí”, an extraordinary work entirely designed with Salvador Dalí, which has been printed in more than 250,000 copies.
Since 1956 and the acquisition of the Yvon brand, the company has focused on the cardmaking business, offering thousands of postcard references. In the meantime, the greeting card became popular and Draeger stood out by paying particular attention to the choice of paper, their text and the finishes. Bold creations with an undeniable extra soul, to cultivate unique connections, recount a precious moment, catch up on news or simply say thank you.
A NEW CHAPTER IS WRITING
Claude and Alain Draeger are well aware of the technological and social upheavals that are taking place, and have the difficult task of deciding on the future of the company. Should we reduce our activities, develop it, or sell it? In 1971, the Gaillard Motel group acquired Draeger Frères, while the Draeger family retained the Yvon editions. The company is then managed by Alain Draeger, who focuses on creative and quality productions. At the same time, Claude Draeger founded the publishing house Anthese, of which his son Nicolas took charge in 2002. As for the Yvon editions, they became Draeger La Carterie in 2018 and it was Olivier, the son of Alain Draeger, who has ensured development since 2006. The family saga is definitely not over…