Antiques Column with Michael Dowse: Glassware receives the recognition it deserves

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Harrach Glass has often been overlooked or had its incredible work wrongly attributed to other glasshouses, due to Harrach blanks being used by many prestigious Bohemian glasshouses in the 19th century.

In recent history this has been rectified and Harrach Glass is gradually receiving the recognition it deserves.

When Harrach Glassworks began production in 1712 it was in the village of Neuwelt, Bohemia which later joined with other local villages to form the town of Harrachov in the remote mountains of what is now the Czech Republic.

The 19th century is considered the ‘golden age’ of Harrach Glass and the company took part in many important international exhibitions during this time and exported huge amounts of their wares to other European countries.

The acclaim they received gave them a flurry of new customers, including royal courts and prominent aristocratic families.

At the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in London in 1851, Harrach Glassworks won first prize, getting a gold medal and badge of honour.

Their success came with their ability to demonstrate huge skill in many areas of glass production combined with the diverse range of designs including, at this particular exhibition, gothic revival and oriental.

Many examples of Harrach Glass are unmarked, due to their paper and foil labels being lost.

Fortunately the factory also signed many pieces so collectors can get “a feel” for the wonderful variety and production techniques. Recognising the shapes and styles of unmarked items, together with identifying the quite superb quality, makes attribution not only a joy, but an art.