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Dating Welz Production – For Some Production, It's Just Not That Easy!!

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    Posted 6 months ago

    (171 items)

    As of late there have been discussions regarding Welz, and the dating of some of their production. I thought that in light of that, I would do a post discussing the issues which are faced when trying to apply a production date range to some of their work.

    Over the last 20+ years, including a series of articles by an English collector by the name of John Franks, there have been a number of attempts to date Welz production, particularly the aesthetic found most commonly in the UK. Franks wrote 5 articles for a publication called “The Glass Collector’s Digest”. Those articles were published in the mid to late 1990’s. In those articles Franks classified some glass he collected as Stourbridge Cottage Glass and indicated a production time frame of ca 1900. The Quantity of this glass, and the aesthetic of the production lent itself to this classification by Franks. This was commonly accepted as the source of this glass for quite some time. John Franks wrote 5 articles for the Glass Digest. They were in August/September 1996, February/March 1997, October/November 1997, April/May 1998, and December/January 1996. The top section of image 4 above shows glass which was identified by John Franks as English Stourbridge production, which I later determined to be Welz production. I discussed this finding with Mr. Franks, and was also given permission to use his images for my research.

    Prior to Franks, there were a number of pieces which had been classified in earlier glass books as being American production. Most of these sources were published in the 1960’s at the height of the cold war and communist occupation of Czechoslovakia.

    One of those publications is a small book titled “Identification of American Art Glass” by Richard Carter Barret. This was originally published in 1964 and again in 1965, and 1967. Mr. Barret was the Director-Curator of The Bennington Museum in Bennington Vermont. The lower left portion of image 4 above shows a page from that publication indicating that some Welz production was early American, and also included a couple of early Legras pieces from the late 1890’s as being American also.

    The other publication is one titled “The Art Glass Basket”, by Robert W. Miller. This book was published in 1972. This book focuses on American art glass baskets. Needless to say, there are a number of examples in this book which I have also linked to Welz production and did so prior to ever having knowledge of the book. The bottom right section of image 4 above shows this book cover and some of the Welz production shown in the book as American baskets.

    The references claiming American production of some pieces were rather obscure, so their impact on the glass collecting world was minimal. The Franks articles were fairly widely read, and did have a lasting impression. To this day, the Franks articles are used to attribute production. I own all of the Franks articles, and also a couple of the earlier glass books claiming American production. I have also communicated with Mr. Franks about his articles. My familiarity with his articles came about several years after my research into Welz production had started.

    One of the difficulties faced when attempting to apply a production timeline to this type of Welz production is found in the fact that there is no known production literature allowing us to definitively determine a production timeline. Another problem is found in the fact that there are not really any known ads of any type showing the production and allowing us to date it that way. In the US we are aided in timeline determination by the fact that imported items require a mark on each item indicating the country of origin (provenance marks). The last issue facing us is the obvious aesthetic of the production, which certainly lends itself to ca 1900 dating.

    There have been claims in this forum and on a Rückl website, that I have mistakenly applied time lines to Welz production, but those claims are, to be kind, “inaccurate”. My claims for dating of production have been largely limited to interwar production, which is also supported to a small extent with 1928 Welz production literature I discovered. Unfortunately, the two pieces I uncovered are the only known examples of Welz production literature.

    So what exactly are my thoughts, and research findings, regarding what I will refer to as Welz production in the Stourbridge Aesthetic?

    First, I think I should state that I believe that Welz produced a type of glass that was specifically designed to appeal to the English market. I am of the understanding that Harrach designed specifically for the UK, and Harrach’s archives contain volumes showing those designs. I am also of the belief that the Welz line was so successfully received, that the amount of it present in the country led English collectors to believe that it was UK production.

    What I am not completely clear on is the time range for the production. The most common consensus seems to be that it is ca 1900. I believe that this is primarily based on the aesthetic of the line. Although I have never been totally convinced of this, I really had nothing to show that would even begin to support a different theory.

    One of the issues that frustrated me the most was the knowledge that the UK market did not require country of origin, or provenance marks on individual items. Although these types of marks, at least as they relate to Czech glass, are rarely indicative of production house, they are useful for the application of a time line. By 2014 I had determined a percentage of Franks’ Stourbridge production to be Bohemian production by Welz, I was still unable to apply a date range that I was comfortable with. I would add that to this day, I am still unsure of the timeline……. Possibly even more now than in the beginning.

    In late 2014 I became aware of an example of Welz production, in the Stourbridge aesthetic which I knew had been exported to the US. Prior to this I had never seen an example I could make that claim about. Most of my examples had come from the UK. Some had come from the US, but all were unmarked. By this time I had identified an add found in the Butler Brothers catalogs I had identified as showing Welz production, and contained in that ad was an example of a stick vase which appeared to be Victorian in aesthetic, yet it appeared in an add in post WWI ads. That fact seemed to me to be relevant, although in what manner I did not know.

    Image 1 above shows a group of Welz examples in what I refer to as a pedestal vase. This is due to the fact that the appearance is similar to a small Jardinière sitting atop a pedestal. Similar in appearance to the pedestals that Welz produced, which have small bowls that sit on the top of them. There are 4 different décors shown in the group. The decors are found on many shapes seemingly being Stourbridge style production.

    There was a turning point for me though, and that point came because of the first example seen in the 1st image above. Without any type of mark, this would easily be classified as turn of the century production. The form, the décor, and the general aesthetic would lead one there. The surprising detail that this example revealed was that it appeared that it was imported to the US, but even more surprising, it was imported post WWI. This fact is supported by the presence of a provenance mark on the underside indicating the country of origin being Czechoslovakia. It is very difficult to make out, and is shown in the second pic in image 1.

    So now the questions which present themselves regarding this style of production are a little different, and unfortunately may never be fully answered.

    1) Was all of this production post WWI?
    2) Was some of it pre WWI ca 1900?
    3) Was this aesthetic produced ca 1900 and revived post WWI?
    4) Was the aesthetic produced for a period covering 20+ years?

    Image 2 and 3 above show other decors found on the shape marked Czechoslovakia, and other examples of production in those décors.

    What is the time frame for this production? I am not sure, and really have no evidence to support any theory well. All I have is a large amount of production in an aesthetic which appears to be ca 1900, and know of a single example which bears a mark indicating a post WWI timeline.

    Only time will tell….. or maybe not!!


    1. artfoot artfoot, 6 months ago
      Thank you for this clarification and for pointing out the pitfalls of making claims without evidence,
    2. artfoot artfoot, 6 months ago
      Somehow it is not surprising that you would have evidence tying this sort of Welz production to the interwar period. I went to sleep last night thinking about this and woke up with a couple questions. First, since it is difficult to tell from the picture, is this shown mark the same font as the mark usually associated with Welz US imports? And secondly, you have mentioned evidence of Welz imports prior to WWI - is there any indication of how those products would have been identified in order to comply with McKinley?
    3. sklo42 sklo42, 6 months ago
      Congratulations Craig, really interesting!
    4. Wow22, 6 months ago
      A very stimulating read. Thank you. I have the same question as Artfoot. Is it the often-seen mark on Welz pieces?
    5. Bambus1920 Bambus1920, 6 months ago
      If these are c. 1900 it makes you wonder just how old the Welz 'Maze' with decoupage pieces really are ?
    6. sklo42 sklo42, 6 months ago
      Like artfoot I've been mulling over your post and would like to add a couple of thoughts. Great Britain, as it then was, first demanded a provenance mark in the early 1870's, in the aftermath of the end of the Franco-Prussian War (1871). This was to protect the Sheffield cutlery industry from the steel makers of the Ruhr Valley who no longer had an armaments market and had turned to cutlery. Great Britain continued to tie provenance marks to specific threatened industries well into the twentieth century.

      It's also possible to come at this from a business angle. At the time there would have been no such thing as Bohemian Art Glass.......only Bohemian Glass Houses. Like all businesses they would have been driven by the bottom line. As new fashions emerged they would have brought out new lines BUT if old styles still sold they would have been kept in production until their sales figures waned.

      It is even possible to find Welz pieces with elements of both old and new fashions/styles. One might say, a foot in both camps!

    7. artfoot artfoot, 6 months ago
      Certainly nothing would have been marked "Czechoslovakia" prior to 1918-19. My curiosity about earlier marks was piqued recently by this post by Vintagefran -
    8. sklo42 sklo42, 6 months ago
      The Bohemian/Czech glass makers continued to supply British vendors of holiday souvenirs right up until the thirtyies. It was a British tradition that holiday makers took home gifts family/friends.
    9. welzebub welzebub, 6 months ago
      Artfoot, and others who also asked. The size of the mark appears to be consistent with other marks on post WWI Welz production. It can be difficult in some cases to determine if the font is exactly the same. My interest in the mark was less of who or how it was placed, and much more the time frame that it linked the production to.

      I do not have an answer regarding pre WWI, post McKinley marking methods. Since we do not really see known Welz examples marked Austria or Bohemia, I would have to operate under the suspicion that they used some form of paper label. That is a completely theoretical thought though, as there is nothing to support it. It is also possible that they used some form of marking which unlike acid stamps, would wash or wear off of the items. I have never seen a prewar piece of Welz (at least that I knew to be Welz) with a mark or label.

      Bambus1920, I have faced the same dilemma with the Maze production in relation to dating the production. On one hand Passau dates the examples they have as unknown production to ca 1900. On the other hand, I own a pair of vases in the décor which are on a shape which is commonly found with a post WWI provenance mark. The question, at least for me, is multi faceted.

      1) Is the decor one that was made for an extended period of time, or was it produced later, and made with shapes which had an aesthetic which lent itself towards turn of the century production.
      2) Is the shape my examples are on a shape that was made for an extended period; was it specifically interwar Deco Era production; or was it a shape that was used earlier and revived?

      Sklo42, I am of the opinion, although unsupportable at present, that the aesthetic was produced for a period of time longer than we normally associate with this type of production. I agree with you, and think that it is extremely important for us as both collectors and researchers, to keep in mind that this glass we cherish now as "art", was at the time simply a product that successful companies made to generate revenues. An art based product, but a "product" none the less.

      It is interesting to note that some of the forms and decors we see this production in are also found in early Fairy Lamp catalogs from pre 1900. Where the fairy lamp shapes have different forms in relation to the mouth of some of these pieces, this fact would seem to lend support to the idea that the aesthetic was popular and made in one form or another for an extended period..... But there is currently no solid proof of that.

      So many unanswered questions......

      Thanks to all that have loved the post, and I am glad to see that the post accomplished it's purpose, which was to stimulate thoughts and conversations regarding the subject.
    10. Michelleb007 Michelleb007, 6 months ago
      Fantastic research, Craig - and great questions from other forum members, too! I am still trying to absorb it all!
    11. artfoot artfoot, 6 months ago
      Thank you, Craig, for providing the spark.

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