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The Shimmer of Ingrid Glass
by Bob Brooke


________________________________________________________

QUESTION:  

I was browsing at a flea market recently and discovered a beautiful green glass vase that looked like marble. The dealer didn’t know anything about it and said she had picked it up at a garage sale. I’ve never seen anything like it. It had veins like marble and shimmered in the sunlight. I had to have it. And now that I do, I’d love to know more about it. Can you tell my anything about this marble glass? How old is it and where was it made?


Thanks,
Charlotte

__________________________________________________________

ANSWER:  

It’s seems that you’ve purchased what’s commonly known as “malachite” glass. The mineral malachite is a green copper carbonate stone which occurs naturally and has concentric layers. It’s especially prevalent in Russia and was a favorite of the czars. The inventors of malachite glass intended it to simulate marble. Many 19th-century glassworks used the term and each created their own variation on this theme. Those items made of this type of glass from the former Czechoslovakia go by another name—Ingrid.

Ingrid is the name of a series of artistic pressed glass items created by Henry Schlevogt and named for his daughter. Henry was the son of Curt Schlevogt, who around 1900 founded a firm in Jablonec, Bohemia, to produce glass beads and buttons. His wife, Charlotte, was the daughter of Heinrich Hoffmann, the owner of a glass company that made and exported sculptures, beads and hollowware.

But Henry knew that the "beads and buttons" business was a difficult one because of the tough competition from so many companies in the area and from other countries. He wrote to his daughter, Ingrid, that knowledge he gained in other countries had led him to create items that were so beautiful that the price wouldn’t matter.

At the Spring Trade Fair in Leipzig in 1934, Schlevogt introduced a line of ornamental crystal sculptures, and the same year presented the line at the Chicago World's Fair. The Ingrid brand was born. And while it was Curt Schlevogt who designed most of the molds used to make the glass, it was Henry who knew how to promote their new line of glass. Ingrid was so well received at the Fair that the firm began producing it on a large scale.

Schlevogt reached out to designers working with the Wiener Werkstatte, including Franz Hagenauer, Ena Rottenberg, and Vally Wieselthier, and also to designers who worked for other major glass firms, such as Bruno Mauder, Eleon von Rommel, and Alexander Pfohl. The result was a complete line of ornamental sculptures, perfumes with figural daubers and/or impressed stoppers, liquor sets, toilet sets, devotional items, figurines, table ware, and vases.

Henry Schlevogt utilized the technology at the Riedel glassworks in Polubny, Czechoslovakia, to make this artistic, marbled, pressed glass. But just because his firm pressed the glass into molds, didn’t mean that it was of inferior quality. The glass, itself, was pure. Workers ground out the mold marks and frosted or polished the surfaces. They even engraved some of the details.

The most common items are those made of jade green and lapis blue marbled glass. The company’s 1939 catalog shows more than 200 crystal and another 80 jade/lapis items.

Schlevogt's crystal perfumes aren’t as easily identified. Some appear in the firm's catalogs, but the vast majority have been included in the broad category of Czechoslovakian glass in most listings. The designs for perfumes included bottles in various Art Deco shapes, and stoppers with relief-pressed nudes, couples, flowers, and butterflies.

By 1936, Schlevogt had business representatives in several European cities. When the Czechoslovak pavilion won a Grand Prize at the 1937 Paris World's Fair, Schlevogt's ornamental sculptures by Ena Rottenberg and Josef Bernhard were part of the reason. By 1940, the Schlevogt firm owned more than 1,300 glass molds, coin molds, and hand presses. It had its own cutting, sandblasting, and acid-etching workshops, but continued to have the glass shapes pressed at the Riedel firm.

The Czechoslovak government nationalized the glass industry after World War II and sentenced Henry Schlevogt to prison in Siberia. After his release in 1948, the Communist government in Czechoslovakia t banished him. He first went to Austria, then accepted an offer to manage the glassworks in Romilly-sur-Andelle, France. He sold this firm in 1972 and died in Paris in 1984.

Collectors need to be cautious, however, since the Ingrid molds have been used continuously. In addition, unauthorized versions of Ingrid items have been made from reverse-engineered molds.

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