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The Elusive Proof Answering a Hotly Debated Topic - The Kralik Arch!! - Made With A Stencil - Patience And Persistence Work!!

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Rhea17's loves16 of 66Wilhelm Kralik Söhne Cameo Glass vase, signed "D'Aurys", ca. 1920sArmour Foods 1900 Store Display
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    Posted 3 years ago

    (46 items)

    I was talking about glass with good friend who called me the other day, and was reminded of an image I had come across which really settled a discussion from years ago, with a piece of irrefutable evidence…. And by irrefutable, I am talking about something for which there is absolutely no other possible reasonable explanation….

    The conversation in question was one that has occurred through the years, but was elevated to a whole new level a few years ago. The topic of the conversation was a discussion of the Kralik arched mark and the use of a stencil to create it. At that point the topic had centered on ideas of whether the mark had been produced using some form of pressurized sand blasting (easily done with silicates used to create glass), or if it was done with an acid spray, which I personally felt was too caustic to be used around glass for that purpose.

    One of the individuals involved in the discussion was adamant about the fact that it could not have been done with a stencil, and that a stamp dipped in acid was the only thing that made sense…. The ensuing discussion resulted in his leaving the discussion group…..

    His final comment was this:

    Sorry, but that's how absurd the discussion has gotten. i will quote from someone who wrote me privately. Stamps dipped in acid, impressed, as easy as marking an envelope. Do you REALLY think these workers had the time to sand blast, etch or engrave a sh---y export mark? "

    And actually....... I did think that.... they had the time, and it was cost effective and easy, and used materials already on hand that did not really need to be replenished, simply reused...... but that was absurd!!

    I have always said that if one is patient enough and waits long enough that an answer to a question, if one pays enough attention, will come to light.

    One of the first pieces of information that came to light for me was a discussion about an American art glass line, which did do a sand blasted mark on glass. That company was Blenko. This at least was a piece of evidence that indicated that the concept of sand blasting a mark was not only feasible, but practical and had been done. In the case of Blenko it was documented that the mark had been sand blasted using a stencil.

    When I read this, the age old question of the Kralik arched mark and the elusive answer of stencil or not, crept back to the forefront for me. The design of the lettering in the Kralik arch spoke loudly to a stencil….. but those that know me well, know that I like as much supporting evidence for things as I can possibly find. Strong supporting evidence…… The more the better..... and the other day I came across some accidentally in my archive of images, without realizing that I actually had it….. irrefutable, undeniable, unequivocal proof that the Kralik arch was done with a stencil.

    The fact that a stencil is by nature cut into a thin sheet of material, the open O’s found in the marks certainly seemed to visually support the idea of a stencil…. And yet, there were still those deniers…. Those who felt a concept not involving a stamp was ludicrous……

    So above in the images is a Kralk ball vase, and the underside of that ball vase has an arched Kralik mark….

    Ooops…. It appears that the stencil was place on backwards, so the mark is a mirror image of what it should be….. an effect only achievable with a stencil application…. Impossible to achieve with a stamp of any type…… unless of course you made the stamp to be that way intentionally....

    Added Text:
    I have added a third image which compares the characteristics of a known sand blasted mark from Blenko with a Kralik mark which appears to bear the same characteristics..... There is a visible granularity to the body of the letters in both marks which I do not think would be achieved with an application of acid.

    My personal issue with an acid etched mark is that in order to etch deeply into the glass the acid would have needed to be applied in a great enough amount so as to remain liquid long enough to mark the surface deeply, as many Kralik marks are pretty deep. Acids would also have had a cost to the glass house, and would not have been reusable, thereby incurring reoccurring costs. Additionally, the use of acid would have been hard to contain in such a manner as to prevent unwanted exposure of glass to the liquid.

    Sand blasting or etching would have used a resource already on hand, and could be reused over and over to mark glass. We may never know the answer for sure.... But at least now we can be confident when we state that it was a stencil applied mark..... and not really such an absurd concept after all.

    I am a firm believer that with time, the actual facts almost certainly come to light..... and in my research, it has been proven over and over to be true. Sometimes it happens quickly, and sometimes the answer to a single question can take many years.

    Research and serious collecting are not a 100 yard dash that we try to finish as fast as possible..... They are, and always have been, a long contest of endurance.... like a marathon.... and those with their eye on the finish line, generally get there at some point.

    So now the only real topic left to discuss would seem to be if you are in the "spraying acid or another liquid to etch it with a stencil" camp, or the "sand blast it with silicate" camp……

    Personally, I am in the silicate camp….. and you???

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    1. vetraio50 vetraio50, 3 years ago
      Stencil is must be.

      Etching was a decorative refining technique ... surely it would be a method used by the Czech refiners at the time. Transfer printing would not have been acceptable given the US demands for permanent and indelible marking of country of origin.

      I'd like to know more about the process used at Blenko. Date of introduction. Machinery involved.

      I'm on the side of some form of etching. Sugar or acid.
    2. kralik1928 kralik1928, 3 years ago
      Haha, thanx for the little wiggle room. I admit I was of the acid on rubber stamp people for a long time, part of reason I stuck to my guns was that on some pieces I felt like part of the sugnature you could see remnants of Metalic residue and you could also see an acid etch texture in the rest of the signature. The other reason was that if they could have acid etched the surface of the piece you could also use the same solution.... easy. But now I have to reverse my thinking because it is much easier to believe the stencils with sandblasting or acid. It is just as easy to spray acids that dry in a few seconds or two hold a stencil For just a moment as well. If you still have to believe it is still a stamp then why would they produce or use a defective stamp? Thanx Craig for your opinion on this
    3. welzebub, 3 years ago
      I will look for some images I have which show seem to show details of texturing in the marks well, and also show small singular etches spots outside of the edges, like a grain that hit off target. I will also see what I can dig up on the Blenko info. A good glass friend is a Blenko Fanatic!!
    4. Sammyz Sammyz, 3 years ago
      Love it! Irrefutable. Unless it's a "fake"!
    5. welzebub, 3 years ago
      I have added a third image, and some additional text which can be found between the dotted lines in my post.
    6. artfoot artfoot, 3 years ago
      My interest in the marks has been pretty evident but I must say I hadn't given much thought to the method of marking and know nothing about how or how quickly it works or even what type of acid is used to etch glass. The idea of a worker with a rubber stamp and a dish of acid always seemed a little haphazard. I have also noticed that some of the Kralik "arch" marks are considerably deeper than others which, I suppose, could be explained by either process (I have one piece that the Czecho side of the mark is deep while the Slovakia side is normal), there is always a graininess to the mark that, to me, lends credibility to the idea of sand blasting. Any explanation other than sand blasting for that backwards mark seems preposterous.

      Thanks for another informative posting.
    7. artfoot artfoot, 3 years ago
      Sometimes I have to think about it for a while. I remember one encounter I've had with the acid-etching on glass process. I had to replace the windows of my store after they were "graffiti-ed" with acid-laced shoe polish. The shoe polish washed right off but the graffiti remained. It was an overnight process. Something similar to this, something that could wash or be burned off, was probably used for some of the marks that were stamped. Could it possibly have been used with a stencil and a stipple brush as well?
    8. artfoot artfoot, 3 years ago
      For what it's worth - Blenko gave up sand blasting rather quickly.
    9. welzebub, 3 years ago
      In regards to Sandblasting marks by Blenko, it seems that they used a sand blasted mark from the spring of 1958 to the summer of 1961. At that point they stopped. Indications are that they did it manually.

      In 2001 Blenko re initiated a sand blasted mark which now includes the year, and that mark is machine applied to their production. They continue to use that marking technique to this day. Current production will have both a sand blasted mark with Blenko and the year of production, and also an applied sticker.

      In light of the fact that Blenko has now used sand blasting for about 16 years, it would not come as a surprise to me at all, if a company with the resources of Kralik, developed an efficient method (for the time period) of applying their arched mark using sand blasting also.
    10. philmac51 philmac51, 3 years ago
      Wow.... A really interesting discovery Craig!
    11. Lustrousstone Lustrousstone, 3 years ago
      That's sandblasted:
      The texture is grainy, acid leaves a satin finish as on most vintage satin glass (I have a blurry Walsh Walsh mark with no visible texture even under a loupe. Vintage sandblasted glass is distinctly grainy; fine powders are relatively modern)
      No-one would use an acid stencil the wrong way round because you wouldn't get a mark at all because of the acid already all over what should be the top side
    12. Michelleb007 Michelleb007, 3 years ago
      Fascinating! I love that you found a Kralik mark in the mirror image; what a neat find, and an amazing way to help settle the acid-stamp question. Thanks for all the discussion - I love finding out about things like this. :)
    13. artfoot artfoot, 3 years ago
      Yes - thanks everyone for the discussion - that's how we learn.
    14. welzebub, 3 years ago
      Thanks to everyone for contributing to the discussion, and also for the loves.

      I have contacted Blenko to see if I can get specific information about their first process in the late 50's, and also on the machine they use now. I will post it here if something comes of my request.
    15. welzebub, 3 years ago
      I added an additional arched mark image above. I believe it is an image which shows the granularity seen in some of these marks to an extreme.

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