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American and European Art glass - Victorian, Art Nouveau and Contemporary

 A Brief Introduction  -  How to ID Harrach Glass  -   Harrach Glass Factory Tour
Coming - Harrach Museum  -  Severn Harrach Collection   -   Project Harrach


Decoding the Harrach Signature

by Brian Severn

(All glass unless otherwise noted, authors collection. Photo's unless noted otherwise, taken by the author)

Original copper etching of the Harrach family coat of arms, showing from c. 1800's collection of Coats of Arms (authors collection).

Fritz Heckert decorated jar showing Harrach Family Crest       
Harrach Museum, CZ
 

The Harrach factory mark has always caused a lot of controversy.  As you can see above, the Harrachov logo is the same as the Three Feather plume mark in the center of the Coat of Arms on the fine Fritz Heckert jar decorated with Count Harracovs' Coat of Arms.  It is this feather plume that has been mistakenly called the "Webb propeller" mark.   Far before westerners were visiting the Czech Republic, the myth that the "propeller" was a Webb mark was initiated.  Unfortunately this was not founded on any proof whatsoever.  The rumor is that a glass shard with this mark was dug up at a historical glass digging in the Stourbridge area with the propeller mark, so that it must have been Webb.  During the Communist Regime this myth overshadowed the superb work that was produced by one of the greatest glass factories of all time due to the lack of information and accessibility.   Since the iron curtain fell in 1989 a lot of great information has been available.  We now know for fact that this mark is the mark of the Harrach glass factory used mainly during the Victorian era, from around 1890 to 1920.   Although they did also do inexpensive tableware and souvenir lines to increase profits, the best work done by Harrach had nicely polished pontils and their decorating shop was second to none. 

 

Harrach glass blanks were used by a lot of the major Bohemian glass houses during the 19th century, including (but not limited to) Moser, Fritz Heckert, J & L Lobmeyr, Josephinenhütte, Egermann, Goldberg, Mühlhaus, etc.   As you can see, this causes an immediate problem - How to properly attribute who did what?

Fortunately for collectors, Harrach did sign some of their work as we'll see below.  They also used several variations of paper and foil labels, which unfortunately have on most pieces been removed at some point in time by their previous owners.  If you have a piece of Harrach with an original paper or foil label that you'd like to share, please contact me and I'll add it to the article.

Photo courtesy of Deborah Truitt.

Here's a rarely seen Harrach paper label.  Notice that it has what appears to be a design number and decoration number hand written on the label.

The Harrach Signature Demystified


  

Harrach early enameled cameo glass pieces are sometimes signed in gold with a signature similar to the above example.

  

Photo's courtesy of Gary Baldwin.

Gary Baldwin has hit on what appears to be a positive ID method for Harrach Art Nouveau Marquerty and Intaglio work glass.  The Harrach pieces were typically marked with a letter followed by a number as seen above.   This particular piece is also signed in gold gillt with the Harrach signature, similar to the Harrach cameo glass vase above it.

 

Photo's courtesy of Gary Baldwin.

Beautiful and rare Harrach Marquetry vase.

Harrach intaglio vase.  These are often mistaken for Moser intaglio work.

 

Harrach acid cut back cameo glass vase with cameo glass signature.


     

   

Marks on the base of known Harrach designs/shapes.  You commonly see dealers attribute pieces with similar marks as above to English glass makers such as Thomas Webb and Stevens & Williams.  I believe this misinformation falls back to the "propeller" myth.  I've yet to see a positively ID'd piece of English glass with similar markings as above, or any other maker for that matter.  It would appear that Harrach used a systematic numbering system, which probably included the shape number, type of glass, decoration number, and possibly the customer number and employee/decorator number.  If you have examples with similar marks, I'd like to hear from you!  I'm trying to catalog a database of Harrach shapes with their marks so we can start to unravel the numbering system.  Two identical shapes with different glass styles or decorations would probably share a common shape/design number, with other numbers for the unlike attributes.

 

    
Buyer beware!  The vase with the above mark was sold to me on eBay as a Mt Washington Crown Milano vase (luckily without the C.M. price).  Of course I knew it was a Harrach piece, and I initially suspected that the C.M. mark was just an artist mark.  When I received the vase, I noticed the C.M. ink was a slightly different color then the rest of the numbering, so I examined it under a loop, and the C.M. was obviously added with a ball point pen!! 

 

   

 In these examples we see a combination of the Harrach feather plume mark, with similar number as the previous examples.

 

 

This example has the Harrach feather plume mark, and the sole number "10"

 

If you have Harrach examples with similar marks, I'd like to hear from you! 

I'm trying to catalog a database of Harrach shapes with their marks so we can start to unravel their numbering system.  Two identical shapes in different glass types or decorations would probably share a common shape/design number, with other numbers for the unlike attributes.  If you have a piece of Harrach with an original paper or foil label that you'd like to share, please contact me and I'll add it to the article.


Coming . . .

Current Harrach Museum Tour
 
Severn Virtual Harrach Museum

Project Harrach - Current Harrach Info Quest
 
More Harrach History