Jonas in Afrika

All Began in the Desert

Fine sand is tickling the nose of both young men from Germany. On their way from Hanover to South Africa, they have a great thirst for adventure and a never-ending supply of cans in their luggage. But once again, their vehicle – a heavy Magirus-Deutz truck, year of manufacture: 1963 – gets stuck in the hot sand of the desert.  They now have to show some muscular strength. But after many hours of shovelling and digging up sand, the huge car still does not move forwards. The engine does not roar loudly as it usually does – the engine mount is broken, and the engine has destroyed the alternator. The challenge is now to find any other way to charge the batteries.

A few days later, again looking for a solution to charge the batteries, they reach a small village in Niger. It looks as though there would be electricity there, for huts and streets are brightly lit. They get into conversation with the inhabitants.

With bits of English and French and the usual gesticulating, the travellers try to find out if they can use the electricity to charge the batteries of their witch with diesel engine. Again and again, they are told that the village does not have any electricity. Indeed, it is not electricity that illuminates the rural settlement. Jonas stands up, and goes towards the bright light with determination to examine the lamp closely and look for the power cable. He squints, hears a roar and a hiss, and above all, perceives the smell of kerosene that hangs in the air. So it is a kerosene lamp. At just 21 years old, Jonas could not have guessed that this miracle of technology would stay with him for a long time.

The Invention of the Petromax

The Petromax lamp was created in 1910 by Max Graetz, who also named the brand, on the basis of a spirit lamp that was already well-known. At that time, most households did not have electricity yet, so it was a great progress to make a light so bright available and affordable for everyone. Graetz secured the rights to the name “Petromax”, derived from “Petroleum Maxe”, which is how his friends and relatives called him affectionately. Ultimately, the lamp became, in different models, a world-wide best-seller.

Back in Germany after his adventures on the African continent, Jonas looked back to that evening in Niger. He was gripped by fascination for this lamp. He started to investigate and discovered that Petromax high-pressure lamps were still being used internationally. He ended up buying 50 Petromax lamps from the German copyright collective: He took them apart and put the over 200 spare parts together again, and he was thrilled, just as many thousands of people in the world. Who would have thought that? Suddenly, a new business idea was born! Jonas kept buying old supplies from the German Armed Forces and reselling the parts, among them mantles and other spare parts. An active business was created. It made him curious… Was it possible to do more? The now 23-year-old business student found out that Schott owned the trademark rights. Ultimately, Jonas together with a fellow student revived the production and acquired the trademark rights of the brand from Schott. The Petromax lamp has experienced a renaissance that would certainly have made its creator Max Graetz proud.

Petromax HK500

Tradition and Passion Thought Ahead

Jonas also decided not to change the essential features of the lamp – the principle of the lamp, the long tradition and the success after more than 100 years of brand history speak for themselves. After a while, Jonas started to expand the product portfolio with outdoor, bushcraft, survival and camping products. Cast-iron cookware in various models, barbecues and cooking areas or even accessories have become absolute best-sellers and are well-known, and not only by outdoor lovers.

The standards of the renewed Petromax brand? Innovation, tradition und quality are both goal and motivation. They inspire the Petromax brand to always develop further and to introduce innovative ideas in the fields of outdoor cuisine and camping life. Every day, the Petromax team is proud to make its contribution, so that in the future, adventurers and globetrotters can come together under the light of Petromax products to share their experience.