The history of our glassworks
Our glassworks is a continuation of the quality glass manufacturing tradition of the Josefodol glassworks, which was established in 1861 by the Viennese businessman Josef Schreiber. The factory is located in the charming valley of the Sázavka river near to the town of Světlá nad Sázavou, in the Bohemian and Moravian highlands.
Nevertheless, the tradition of glass production in Bohemia started much earlier. Czech glasswork experienced tremendous growth in the second half of the 17th century when Czech glass started its relentless pressure to compete with products made in Venice. The competition lasted for almost two centuries until the Czech crystal finally won, in large part due to the fine craftspeople grinding, engraving, cutting, and painting. By 1740 there were more than 70 glassworks in Bohemia along with many more establishments cutting and refining the finished products.
The historically oldest documented glassworks in Světlá was Hoglova glassworks, established somewhere around 1700-1712, later known and famous under the name Dobrá Voda (Guttenbrunn). It was located only 4 km from nowadays company in the Josefodol forest. The glassworks was built by the lords or glass masters on the noble estates where the woods provided enough wood to heat the kilns and sources of quartz could be found in the limestones. Most of these glassworks had relatively short lifespans because they would exhaust the local wood and potash supplies. As a result, the glassmakers and their families would move to newly established glassworks in other areas with abundances of the necessary raw materials.
The products of Loukovská glassworks, still located on the Melechov hillside in the Rohule region, were known for their very high quality. In the middle of the 19th century, under the direction of glass master Fratišek Gerhardt, the Loukov glass was being sold in Vienna via Schreiber´s store (Josef Schreiber Sr. (04.13.1819 Dub nad Moravou – 14.08.1879 Baden)).
Schreiber´s nephew Josef (03.08.1835 Dub nad Moravou – 11.17.1902 Velké Losiny) often traveled to Bohemia on business trips to buy glass from several glassworks. In Bohemia he often visited Světlá and Rohule, to buy glass from Gerhardt. It is possible that he was also drawn there by Gerhardt´s beautiful daughter Tereza (08.10.1842 Palčice – 12.30.1932 Rapotín) whom he later married. In 1861 Schreiber bought a bankrupted paper mill from the nobleman Štencl which he rebuilt to become a glass cutting place. These glassworks also started to melt glass in 1882. It was the first glassworks established by Schreiber and went under the name of „Josefsthal“ – Josefodol. Schreiber primarily had glass intended for cutting produced there, but also other kinds, like glass for lights, opaline and cased glass were made.
Josef and Tereza had 7 children. One of their daughters, Antonie Schreiber, married Franz Welz (08.13.1850 -11.16.1924) whose family owned one of the oldest glassworks in Dobrá Voda, established more than 300 years ago. Franz Welz was the grandson of Josef Riedl, the owner of the glassworks in the village of Polubná (Polaun) in Desná in the Jizera mountains. The history of the Josefodol glassworks is directly associated with the Riedel glassworks, which is worldwide known as a glass producer for brands such as Nachtmann and Spiegelau.
The most efficient times
In 1880 Josef Schreiber senior established the Schreiber & Neffen (translation: Schreiber & Nephews), which included his other glassworks. In 1882 Schreiber employed about 2000 workers and approximately 100 managers. The company catalog included about 3000 shapes in 15 000 sizes. When Schreiber died, he had 13 glassworks in operation. To develop his glassworks, he distributed his experts from Světlá everywhere, and their descendants remain there to this day.
In 1870 Schreiber attended an exhibition in St. Louis in America, where he saw a new machine called a ‘pantograph’. He bought one and moved it to Bohemia, where he had 20 more of them built. Like that he became the only glass producer in Europe making pantograph stemware.
Also in St. Louis, he bought the first pressing machine. Again he built several more and became the first in Europe to produce pressed glass. Except for one sale to Austria-Hungary, the products were exported from Josefodol to America, Great Britain, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Russia, Turkey, and India.
The fame of Schreiber & Neffen is linked to the destiny of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy and the first World War. The collapse of Austria-Hungary caused market losses and the decline of the Schreiber & Neffen. After the declaration of independence of Czechoslovakia on October 28, 1918, the Josefodol glassworks became prominent.
We also have to mention here the worldly renowned engineer Karel Bačík, known as Charles Bacik who is the founder of Waterford Crystal glassworks in Ireland. Charles Bacik worked in the Josefodol glassworks as head manager of the company before World War II. On December 15, 1937, the Josefodol glassworks came to an end and was eventually liquidated. The brothers Čeněk and František from Pavlov bought the company. To the Josefodol plant also belonged Františkodol, Tasice and Pavlov. Charles Bacik bought the company in liquidation. A new glassworks company is established, together with the cutting plant’s Caesar brothers and cutting plants Josefodol. After the end of World War II, the glassworks was confiscated and nationalized from the Caesar brothers and Charles Bacik.
Charles Bacik left for Ireland where he created the Waterford Crystal glassworks. His experience at Josefodol and other glassworks in Světlá and his Czech glass designer Miroslav Havel who worked for him in Světlá helped him a great deal in this endeavor. The worldwide renowned Lismore design from the Worldford glassworks was designed by Miroslav Havel.
After the company was nationalized by the state of Bohemia it was eventually privatized again in 1994. Till these days we are constantly improving our range of goods and patterns on them. Our customers are basically from all world corners and thanks to our large experiences with crystal and technologies connect to the production, we can accept orders according to your needs.
The combination of tradion with requirements of nowadays world, our company is producing unique products of long lasting values with their trademark . We, GULET CRYSTAL, respond to client’s desires and wishes by wide offer of the products that reflect quality of the Bohemian crystal.