Ludwig Moser & Sons was founded in Karlsbad, Austria, in 1857—today, this Czech Republic city is known as Karlovy Vary. Moser perfected numerous cold-working techniques, from engraving and carving to gilding and painting. Later, the firm would also become known for its sparkling cut crystal, which was produced without the use of lead.
In its first few decades, no glass was blown or manufactured at Moser. The focus was entirely on engraving and polishing blanks provided by Loetz and other Bohemian glassworks. But by the end of the century, though, Moser had built its own factory and was supplying the highest quality cut and decorated glassware to Franz Josef I, the Emperor of Austria. A commission for Edward VII of England followed in 1908 and for the rest of the century, Moser would produce glass for monarchs, maharajahs, and popes.
At the beginning of the 20th century, most Moser stemware and pitchers were clear, save the engravings and and decorations ground and painted on their delicate surfaces. In 1909 that changed when the company’s designers began to create colored art glass vases and bowls, which were rimmed with intricately detailed bands of gold. Moser glassware was also given the golden touch, usually at the top of the glass, with a frosted or etched body below.
In the 1920s, an extremely fruitful collaboration with designer Josef Hoffman began. In addition to elegant glassware that gave the prevailing Art Deco aesthetic a uniquely Bohemian spin, Hoffman designed lines of vases with animals and jungle scenes on their outside surfaces. Like the cameo glass of Daum and others, the images on Moser vases rose in relief above the base color that surrounded them. The reliefs were often gold enameled or gilded to make them stand out even more.
While the years between the wars were good to Moser, the war itself was obviously not. But then, unlike other manufacturers that were nationalized when what was once Bohemia and Austria became Czechoslovakia, Moser was allowed to function independent of invasive government control. It used its relative freedom to refine and further perfect the practices that got it started—engraving on clear glass.
A century and a half later, the Moser glassworks continues to operate, producing everything from crystal barware to candlesticks to animal figurines.
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