Posted 6 months ago
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!!