GLASS from the Alps – a Fascinating Cultural Heritage

Over many centuries, numerous local glasshouses in the Alpine region produced flasks and other glassware for everyday use. A significant location in this respect was the community of Kramsach in the Tyrolean Unterland, the 300-year glass-producing history of which ran until 1926. Glass from this manufactory, as well as from other Alpine regions, was collected by Herbert Avanzini of Tyrol—who brought to bear great knowledge and boundless enthusiasm in his hunt for rare (and, what’s more, perfect) exemplars. His entire collection will now be up for auction.

In Praise of Liquid Spirits

Great demand was once enjoyed by flasks with airtight tin screw closures for storing all manner of liquids, be they water, wine, oil, or brandy— though the fact that they were usually referred to as “brandy flasks” leaves little doubt as to where people’s preferences lay! They came in many sizes and a wide variety of shapes, patterns, and colours, and they were distributed by peddlers selling their wares from carts or from frames on their backs.

Special forms

An unusual form was particularly popular in Kramsach at the end of the 17th century, for which reason this community came to be viewed as the birthplace of the so-called Nabelflasche [“navel” or “omphalos flask”]. This expression refers to the two round indentations on such flasks’ front and rear sides, characteristically utilitarian ornaments meant to facilitate a sure grip. Easy handling was likewise the practical consideration behind prunted flasks or “wart flasks”, which were decorated with little bumps (“prunts”) or wart-like protrusions.

Forest, Sky and Amber

While form, perfection and size are important aspects, a decisive factor for today’s collector is colour! The range here is easily made out: greens from dark to transparent, blues running to an occasional violet, and browns to a golden amber. Responsible for these colourations are the ingredients used, including the potash fluxing agent and the quartz sand; in Alpine regions, most potashes were produced from the ashes of beech wood, the high iron oxide content of which lent such glass a green hue. The other colours were achieved by mixing in additional iron oxide, cobalt oxide, and/or copper oxide, which entailed time and expense. Green-to-transparent glass was therefore more common, and it came to be known as “forest glass”.

 

The refined simplicity of Alpine—and here, particularly Kramsach—mould-blown glass, along with its inimitably strong colours and individual design, makes it a highly desired collector’s item to this day. And its successful combination of highly specialized craftsmanship, well-considered functionality, and artistic perfection ensures timeless modernity.

This important Tyrolean private collection of Alpine mould-blown glass from Kramsach, Tyrol will go up for bidding on 17 October 2017 in the auction “Antiques” at Auktionshaus im Kinsky.

Text: Marianne Hussl-Hörmann, Auktionshaus im Kinsky

Over many centuries, numerous local glasshouses in the Alpine region produced flasks and other glassware for everyday use. A significant location in this respect was the community of Kramsach in the Tyrolean Unterland, the 300-year glass-producing history of which ran until 1926. Glass from this manufactory, as well as from other Alpine regions, was collected by Herbert Avanzini of Tyrol—who brought to bear great knowledge and boundless enthusiasm in his hunt for rare (and, what’s more, perfect) exemplars. His entire collection will now be up for auction.
In Praise of Liquid Spirits
Great demand was once enjoyed by flasks with airtight tin screw closures for storing of all manner of liquids, be they water, wine, oil, or brandy— though the fact that they were usually referred to as “brandy flasks” leaves little doubt as to where people’s preferences lay! They came in many sizes and a wide variety of shapes, patterns, and colours, and they were distributed by peddlers selling their wares from carts or from frames on their backs.
Special forms

An unusual form was particularly popular in Kramsach at the end of the 17th century, for which reason this community came to be viewed as the birthplace of the so-called Nabelflasche [“navel” or “omphalos flask”]. This expression refers to the two round indentations on such flasks’ front and rear sides, characteristically utilitarian ornaments meant to facilitate a sure grip. Easy handling was likewise the practical consideration behind prunted flasks or “wart flasks”, which were decorated with little bumps (“prunts”) or wart-like protrusions.
Forest, Sky and Amber
While form, perfection and size are important aspects, a decisive factor for today’s collector is colour! The range here is easily made out: greens from dark to transparent, blues running to an occasional violet, and browns to a golden amber. Responsible for these colourations are the ingredients used, including the potash fluxing agent and the quartz sand; in Alpine regions, most potashes were produced from the ashes of beech wood, the high iron oxide content of which lent such glass a green hue. The other colours were achieved by mixing in additional iron oxide, cobalt oxide, and/or copper oxide, which entailed time and expense. Green-to-transparent glass was therefore more common, and it came to be known as “forest glass”.

The refined simplicity of Alpine—and here, particularly Kramsach—mould-blown glass, along with its inimitably strong colours and individual design, makes it a highly desired collector’s item to this day. And its successful combination of highly specialized craftsmanship, well-considered functionality, and artistic perfection ensures timeless modernity.

This important Tyrolean private collection of Alpine mould-blown glass from Kramsach, Tyrol will go up for bidding on 17 October 2017 in the auction “Antiques” at Auktionshaus im Kinsky.

Text: Marianne Hussl-Hörmann, Auktionshaus im Kinsky