Bohemian Glass is a form of glass originally produced in Czechoslovakia.
History And Description
Bohemian Glass, also known as Bohemian Crystal, has been produced in the region now known as Czechoslovakia since the 13th century. Craftsman discovered that, by using large amounts of potash, and the limestone, silica and chalk which were available in large quantities in the region, they could produce a colourless glass which was stable enough to cut, mould, engrave and enamel with colourful designs.
By the addition of dyes and metals, opaque, coloured glass could also be produced.
Antique Bohemian Glass vases have a characteristic opal or irridescent sheen, and have often been worked by hand into unique, organic shapes, often reflecting nature. By the 19th century, under the influence of the Art Nouveau movement, the small, craftsmen-led industry had become large-scale, exporting world-wide. A strong motif was a pair of vases, in clear or opaque glass, of matching size, with enamelled flower patterns.
Also popular were framed lithographs printed or painted onto heavy glass, to hang on the wall. Because this craft was not viewed as fine art, it was allowed to continue without interference under communist government. However, due to trade restrictions, exported Bohemian Glass became increasingly unusual, and production naturally slowed.
Since the 1990s, new designs have been made and attempts are being made to expand this traditional craft once more although progress is slow as many of the original designs and methods have been lost.
Guide For Collectors
During the period at which the most collectible Bohemian Glass was produced, there was an explosion of new design techniques. Therefore, it would be advisable to compare notes with other collectors, if possible, to be certain which designs are most worth investing in.
One collector's group is Czech Collectors Association, which is for individuals who have an interest in art of the place and period generally. Books specifically dedicated to Bohemian glass and crystalware include "Lötz: Bohemian Glass 1880-1940" Jan Mergl, et al, "Collectible Bohemian Glass, 1915-1945" Robert Truitt and "Bohemian Glass: 1400-1989" by Sylva Petrova, Jean-Luc Olivie, and Gabriel Urbanek.
Names to look for are Loetz, Prochaska, Hofstotter, and Moser, who all produced work of Art Nouveau design. The Kralik workshop became prominent later, during the Art Deco period. However, buyers often confuse Loetz and Kralik work. Signature designs of the Art Nouveau period include rippling and feathering techniques, as well as the more familiar irridescent glassware.
bohemianglasscollector.blogspot.com shows some fine examples of the organic shapes, worked by hand, which are the signature of Bohemian Crystal. trocadero.com, atlantaantiquegallery.com and 20thcenturyglass.com offer online sales.
At an auction held by Sotheby's, London, in December 2002, the Culm Goblet sold for £138,650, the most expensive single item to date.
Other notable sales have been a Loetz Hofstotter vase which sold for $22,000 (Sotheby's, New York, October 2011.)
A rare Bohemian Ruby Crystal Chandelier was sold in April 2009 for $15,750 by Kaminksi Auctions.
However, there are also verified items from notable workshops which sell inexpensively, such as a seven-piece Bohemian Glass Decanter set which sold for $10 in November 2009 at Leighton Galleries.
It should therefore be noted that if the intention is to collect items of beauty and craftsmanship, then bargains can be found, but it should not be assumed that work credited to a major workship or artisan will have high sale value.