New light shed on the life of Mercedes Jellinek

Legacy of brand eponym Mercedes Jellinek in the Daimler archive

  • New light shed on the life of Mercedes Jellinek
  • First photo of “Mercedes in a Mercedes”
Mercedes Jellinek (1889 - 1929) from the Mercedes-Benz Classic archives

Mercedes Jellinek, on a Mercedes Grand-Prix racing car from 1906

Mercedes Jellinek sitting in a Mercedes: it may not appear so at first, but this recently discovered photo is a mini-sensation as, before it was found, there were no known photos of the lady who gave her name to the brand sitting in the world-famous car.

Mercedes Jellinek, right, on the high seas, ca. 1910

The newly-added original Mercedes Jellinek material in the Daimler archive comes from the estate of her son, Hans-Peter Schlosser, who bequeathed his mother’s personal photos and documents to his godchild living in Salzburg, since he had no children of his own. It includes three albums containing a total of around 300 photographs showing scenes from the previously little-known life of Mercedes Jellinek.

Emil Jellinek (1853-1918) during a bycicle tour

Emil Jellinek with his daughter Mercedes

The archive’s newly acquired treasures include childhood pictures of Mercedes Jellinek, who was born in Vienna on 16 September 1889, as well as photos from her time as a young adult in Nice – on a yacht named Mercedes, on horseback and reading a book in a lounge. There are also wedding photos from her first marriage with the Viennese Baron Karl Schlosser from 1909 and family scenes with her two children: Elfriede (born 20 June 1912) and Hans-Peter (born 3 May 1916). Although not all of the photos are inscribed or dated, they afford an insight into the private life of the Mercedes brand’s eponym – and into the life of a young, well-heeled lady at the dawn of the 20thcentury.

Mercedes Jellinek, on horseback at the Jellinek family’s villa in Baden near Vienna, ca. 1905

One of the newly acquired documents is a well-preserved birth certificate for “Mercedes Adrienne Ramona Manuela Jellinek,” on which the changing of the family name to “Jellinek-Mercedes” authorised on 24 June 1903 can also be seen. Incidentally, this document confirms that Mercedes was the name entered on her birth certificate, whereas it was previously widely believed that Mercedes was “just” her father Emil Jellinek’s pet name for her.

Mercedes Jellinek (1889 - 1929)

Mercedes Jellinek

The marriage certificate for Mercedes Jellinek and Karl Freiherr von Schlosser is now also in the archive, as is her obituary notice; the lady who gave the Mercedes brand its name died before even reaching forty on 23 February 1929 in Vienna whilst married to her second husband Baron Rudolf Weigl – hence the entry “Mercedes Freifrau von Weigl, née Jellinek-Mercedes.”

Mercedes Jellinek (1889 - 1929)

Mercedes Jellinek at the age of 11 years.

Further newly acquired items from the estate include a passport from 1927, on which it can be seen that the Austrian citizen had chestnut-brown hair and green eyes – details that were not apparent on black-and-white photos, and of which the public at least was previously unaware.

Mercedes Jellinek (1889 - 1929) and her husband, Carl Schlosser, presumably on their honeymoon, in front of the Cathedral of San Marco in Venice, 1909.

Mercedes Jellinek and her husband, Carl Schlosser, presumably on their honeymoon, in front of the Cathedral of San Marco in Venice, 1909.

The estate has therefore provided a mini-sensation in the shape of the ‘Mercedes in a Mercedes’ photo as well as a host of details which help to shed more light on the history of the world-famous brand’s eponym. After all had her father Emil Jellinek not been so besotted with his daughter, the Mercedes brand would presumably never have seen the light of day – and the “second coming” of the automobile could have been very different.


25 June 2012

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