Christmas Decorations

Vánoční ozdoby, DUV-družstvo

A knowledge of the production of hollow pearls which imitate natural pearls - produced using the same technological procedure as was later used for Christmas decorations - arrived in Krkonoše from the Jizera mountains in the 1870s thanks to agents and traders.  However, the situation in the Podkrkonoší region was different.

 Here they began to blow pearls at the start of the 1860s thanks to contact with the centre of the monarchy - Vienna. At the start of the 20th century, blown glass Christmas decorations were still only made marginally in Bohemia. What’s more, there was major competition. Instead of large glass balls and other shapes, domestic glass-blowers in the north-east of Bohemia mainly made pearls and beads which were subsequently silver-plated on the inside and, in the 1880s, shipped primarily to India.  With the help of a simple blowing machine and moulds, or piecemeal, they were made by the people in the Jizera mountains (around Smržovka and Josefův Důl), in Krkonoše (Poniklá, Vítkovice) and Podkrkonoší (Hořice, Zdobín, Doubravice, Bílá Třemešná etc.).

The situation in the profession changed after the year 1908, when Czech blown pearls began to be pushed out from India by cheaper Japanese goods. Full warehouses and a high number of unemployed workmen led to the idea of assembling the pearls to make glass Christmas decorations, which at the time were an established commodity both in Europe and overseas. Thus, an original type of pearl decoration was born, which today is sought after by collectors around the world (so-called Jablonec Christmas decorations). Threaded Christmas decorations, made not from blown pearls but from cut ones, may have even appeared in Zásadsko before World War I. Other semi-finished Jablonec glass fashion jewellery products were also commonly used when creating pearl and bead decorations.  Christmas decorations from painted cardboard covered with tiny balls (ballotini), so-called reflective goods, were also a novelty on the market around the year 1910.

After the year 1918 the crisis in blown pearls vanished, but the revival only lasted until the mid-1920s. The next crisis also affected glass-blowers from the surroundings of Dvůr Králové nad Labem.  The Glass-blowers’ Institute in Hradec Králové offered a way out. In March 1931, together with the glass-making school in Železný Brod, it organized a course focused on new products for fourteen unemployed pearl-makers from Podkrkonoší. It was run by designer Jaroslav Brychta. In May and June 1931, this action was followed be three courses devoted to the production and embellishment of Christmas decorations.  Participants from Hořice, Miletín, Zdobín, Trotina and Libonice had to undertake to join a newly created association in order to guarantee quality and commercial solidity.  When the Glass-blowers’ Cooperative for the production of blown glass Christmas decorations based in Zdobín was established on the 20th of July 1931, it already had 31 founding members. It protected its goods with a trademark in the form of a Christmas tree with a comet.

While blown glass Christmas decorations had previously been imported to Czechoslovakia from Germany, in the 1930s they began to be exported instead. Silver and gold plating, colouring, icing and wrapping with decorative fringes was used to embellish the surfaces of Czech Christmas decorations. Thanks to systematic support from the state-founded Glass-blowers’ Institute, blown glass Christmas decorations became a unique example of the glass-blowing profession which flourished during the global economic crisis. At the world exhibition in Brussels, decorations from the Zdobín cooperative received the prestigious Grand Prix prize (1935), just like in Paris (1937, a collective Grand Prix for the entire Czechoslovak exhibition).   

After the end of World War II, the German owners’ companies were forfeited to the state, and so-called national administrators assumed control of them.  A nationalization of all private businesses followed. In the year 1948, production of Christmas decorations from the Jizera mountains (Knobloch & Berger), Krkonoše (Otto Horna, formerly S. Horna) and partially also Podkrkonoší (Václav Berger) was concentrated in the national enterprise Glass Fashion Jewellery, based in Jablonec nad Nisou. Four years later, the business was incorporated into the national enterprise Železný Brod Glass (established 1948). While blown glass Christmas decorations found a market mainly in Western countries (Italy, the Netherlands, USA, Belgium, France and Great Britain), pearl and bead decorations were exported primarily to socialist states - Romania and Poland (in the 1970s, around 70% of the goods were actually destined for the Polish market).

After the year 1989, as a result of the liberalization of conditions in Czechoslovakia, state enterprises became private companies. Some of the factories became independent, but completely new operations also emerged. USA, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Great Britain, Germany and Canada remained the main markets for Czech glass Christmas decorations. However, interest in former socialist countries decreased considerably, mainly thanks to their own production (Poland, Romania). The peak of the boom was the year 2001; today demand on the world market - thanks to competition from Chinese machine production and the economic crisis - is incomparably smaller. 

Take a tour of the Christmas decoration factory. You will see the demanding process, which the decorations must undergo before they assume their final form, with your own eyes. At the end of the tour, you will have the opportunity to buy them at discounted prices.

There are two options where you can take this tour in Dvůr Králové nad Labem:
Vánoční Ozdoby [Chistmas Decorations], DUV-družstvo [cooperative] – www.vanocniozdoby.cz
Ozdoba [Decoration] CZ, s. r. o. – www.ozdobacz.cz

Vánoční ozdoby, DUV-družstvo

Vánoční ozdoby, DUV-družstvo

 
Vánoční ozdoby, DUV-družstvo

Vánoční ozdoby, DUV-družstvo

 
Vánoční ozdoby, DUV-družstvo

Vánoční ozdoby, DUV-družstvo

 
Vánoční ozdoby, DUV-družstvo

Vánoční ozdoby, DUV-družstvo

 
Vánoční ozdoby, DUV-družstvo

Vánoční ozdoby, DUV-družstvo

 
Vánoční ozdoby, DUV-družstvo

Vánoční ozdoby, DUV-družstvo

 
 
5.6.2015 9:16:32 | read 13462x | Mgr. Eva Hronešová
 

TOWN INFORMATION CENTRE
DVŮR KRÁLOVÉ NAD LABEM
Náměstí T. G. Masaryka 2
544 17 Dvůr Králové nad Labem
Czech Republic
tel.: +420 499 321 742
tel.: +420 730 182 895
info@mudk.cz

Opening times:
Monday–Friday 8:00–17:00
Saturday 8:00–13:00
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