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ESHOP – COMING SOON

Discover the History

Glassworks have always been founded in mountain areas, because they used wood as a fuel. Existing historic sights show that after wood sources had been used up, glassworks usually moved and left settlements behind, in which the glassmakers gradually became farmers or local manufacturers of glass-making raw materials. This most likely appears to be the case of the glassworks in Harrachov as well. The truth is that the foundation of the glassworks in Harrachov closely follows the fate of three older glassworks that were located in the territory of the former Jilemnice estate, namely the glassworks in Rokytnice nad Jizerou, Rokytno and Rýžoviště.

1632

 The arrival of the aristocratic Harrach family to the Giant Mountains turned out to be a decisive moment in the history of the Nový Svět glassworks. First, the Harrachs gained the Branná estate and half of the Jilemnice town in 1632. Then count Ferdinand Bonaventura bought the rest of the Jilemnice estate along with the second half of the Jilemnice town in 1701. After the Harrachov glassworks moved to Nový Svět, the wealthy aristocratic Harrach family arranged for wood to be brought even from remote areas so that the glass factory would not have to move any more.  

It was particularly thanks to the skills of the first director Ellias Müller that a glassworks developed in the estate of the aristocratic Harrach family which made Czech glass famous all over the world. It its early days, the production style of the Harrachov glassworks was influenced by late Baroque and Rococo in particular.  Local master glassmakers were able to produce glass in different colours, for example blue, yellow, red, green, black and violet, they also produced milk glass. The fame of the glassworks was also supported by the fact that its premises were extended with refining operations, namely an engraving and glass cutting workshop and a painting workshop.

Development 1841

In the second half of the 18th century, the glassworks had warehouses in Vienna, Izmir, and Constantinople, exporting glass to Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, England, and other countries. At that time, it had two large furnaces, one small furnace, three grinding shops with 18 workshops, and three private grinding shops. Fourteen glass refiners, ten painters and gilders, three bead makers, and one coat-of-arms engraver worked on glass refinement.

In 1808, Johan Pohl became the manager, overcoming a severe sales crisis and initiating the production of new types of glass. The glassworks participated in the industrial exhibition in Prague in 1829, winning a gold medal. After Pohl, Wilhelm Erben took over, along with Count František Arnošt Harrach, establishing the glassworks internationally.

The reputation of the glassworks was enhanced by visits from the Habsburgs. In 1804, Archduke Joseph visited, followed by Archduke Rainer in 1806, Crown Prince Ferdinand in 1820, and King Frederick Augustus II of Saxony in 1840.

Golden Age

From 1851, the glassworks' products regularly appeared at World Exhibitions, winning the highest awards. At the first exhibition in London, the glassworks won a gold medal, the only one for Austria-Hungary. Exhibited styles included Biedermeier, Second Rococo, Historicism, and Neo-Renaissance.

In 1854–1855, the glassworks were rebuilt, but in 1861 it burned down. Count Jan Nepomuk František Harrach immediately began restoration, and production resumed in 1863. 

In the following years the glassworks participated in world exhibitions in Paris, London, Philadelphia, Sydney, Antwerp, Barcelona, and Chicago. Its success led to representatives and warehouses worldwide, including in Prague, Karlovy Vary, Vienna, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Leipzig. Customers included royal courts and prominent noble families.

By the late 19th century, the glassworks had about 400 employees, and in 1895, a large grinding shop with electric lighting and water turbine power, now a national technical monument, was established.

At the turn of the 20th century, the glassworks were pioneers in Art Nouveau. Under the leadership of Bohdan Kadlec and Jan Malina and with artists like Josef Petříček and Julius Jelínek, the glassworks collaborated with notable figures, including Alfons Mucha and Jan Kotěra. Floral motifs inspired by French floralists and L.C. Tiffany were developed.

Crisis – Postwar Period

However, even extensive trade connections and worldwide fame could not avert the economic crisis associated with World War I. Only in 1921 was trade with the USA and other countries resumed. In the late 1920s, production stabilized thanks to director Josef Tlapa, who won the Grand Prix at the 1925 Paris World Exhibition.

After the Munich Agreement, the glassworks were briefly closed but reopened in January 1939. Pragmatic steps by Count Harrach allowed the glassworks to continue. In December 1939, Rudolf Endler became director, maintaining operations until the end of the war, even forcing Count Harrach to sell the glassworks in 1943 at a low price. During the war, the glassworks continued to produce luxury glass.

Postwar Period

In early May 1945, Harrachov was liberated by the Soviet army. However, on January 28, 1946, a fire destroyed the smelting hall, offices, archive, and drawing room. Thanks to worker pressure and K. Gottwald's intervention, reconstruction began in summer 1946.

After construction was completed, the glassworks came under national administration and became part of Železnobrodské Sklo in 1948. In 1958, it was taken over by Borské Sklo and became part of Crystalex Nový Bor in 1974. In 1952, lead glass production ended, and potash glass production began, focusing on smooth drinking glass.

From 1955, Milan Metelák, son of the founder of the Železnobrodská Glass School, determined the production direction. In 1971, the glassworks modernized by switching furnace heating to natural gas. After nationalization, the glassworks lost contact with foreign customers and sold under the Bohemia Glass brand, diminishing its global reputation.

Present

After the regime's fall, the glassworks survived under Crystalex Nový Bor for several years. In spring 1993, it was privatized, and on July 1, 1993, JUDr. František Novosad took over. Overcoming initial difficulties from loan repayments, the glassworks established trade contacts in the USA and Canada. The early 2000s crisis, exacerbated by the September 11 attacks and the 2008 global crisis, tested its resilience.

The foresighted owner started building a microbrewery in 2001. Revenue from the brewery, tours, museum, and shops helped endure tough times and supported glass production.

The current Harrachov glassworks has adapted to new demands but maintains traditional handcrafting despite advanced automation in glassmaking.

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