It all began in the late 19th century when Alois Riffeser traveled to the major European cities to sell the wood carved figurines and toys which were bought from the farmers of the Gröden Valley located in the Dolomite region of the Alps. This area in South Tyrol was part of Austria-Hungary at the time until being annexed to Italy in 1919.
In 1912 Josef Anton Riffeser founded the ANRI Company, which he named using the first two letters of his first and last name. After World War I, where he was in a prisoner of war camp in Siberia, he formulated his plan for a woodcarving company. He created his own models which he distributed successfully, mainly in the Alpine region.
Josef’s wife, Carolina Riffeser ran the company during the difficult years of war and the absence of her husband. She was especially influential as her social positions were well accepted and gained the confidence of the home workers. She also inaugurated the first canteen of the region.
When Anton Adolf Riffeser took over in 1945, he transformed the ANRI company, adopting a more industrial model which allowed for better quality control and distribution to new markets. He was followed by Ernst Riffeser who was able to enlist the services of many well known artists including Juan Ferràndiz, Sarah Kay and others. The ANRI company today is run by Thomas Riffeser, and still remains in the same family.