Beranek 1941 - 1950

Some Basic Information

by Craig Orkney

Early Beranek production is an interesting study of glass artistry and business, driven by a desire to produce art glass, while struggling to overcome the obstacles of a war ravaged region of Europe. Aside from a lack of funds, the obstacles included inadequate production facilities, a shortage of quality heat sources, and the absence of quality raw materials.

Although there is a claim on a website that the Pulegoso style of glass produced by Beranek in the 40's was the bi-product of poor heat sources and scrap glass being used as a raw material, we know that this same style of bubbly glass was produced by Krasno in the late 1930's and into the 40's, and that this is where the skill was learned by Emanual Beranek.

Given the fact that there were heat source and raw material challenges faced by Beranek in the formative years of the company, the production of this style of glass was likely as a result of the artistic and business acumen of Beranek, simply adjusting their output to the conditions. Many of the pieces in my collection, and the collections of others I know, display ash and other impurities. These impurities, combined with what I would classify as a limited color palette, are the true artifacts of the company's challenging production environment.

With all of these seemingly insurmountable factors weighing on the Beranek brothers, they managed to produce a line of glass, which is artistically distinctive, and still quite recognizable today. This is an accomplishment, which at least to me, speaks volumes regarding the drive and determination of the company’s owners in its infancy.

Until recently there has been little in the way of readily available information regarding the early years of the company when they operated as Beranek Glassworks. This was changed by the publication of a book covering early Beranek production and the ensuing production of Skrdlovice.

The release in May of 2014 of “Beranek & Skrdlovice: Legends of Czech Glass”, Written by Robert Bevan Jones and Jindrich Parik, was the motivating factor for me to finally put together this section of the website. The book covers the period from the company’s inception in 1941, to its demise in 2008.

The images shown here will be images relating to the early period of production dating from the period of 1941-1950, covered in the initial chapter of the book. The pieces here are really production starting with known documentation in 1945. Examples of production from the war years of 1941-1944 are very rare, and little documentation is known to exist covering this period.

I have been collecting examples and images of early Beranek for quite some time, and have been primarily aided by collectors from Europe. Without the help of these contributors, this portion of the site would not be possible. My interest in early Beranek glass was ignited by the unique style of Pulegoso glass they produced, and some early knowledge of the difficult conditions under which it was produced. I found I was as curious about the adverse conditions as I was enamored with the glass that came of it.

My location in the Pacific Northwest of the United States has also inadvertently aided me in locating some unusual and scarce examples of smooth cased production to add to my personal collection of early Beranek glass. This is due to the early production being imported by a Seattle glass retailer. That company, Kusak Cut Glass Works, is still in business in Seattle and owned by the same family. They also hold the distinction of being the longest running direct importer of Czech glass in the United States.

A personal visit by myself to Kusak's in late June of 2014 resulted in the location of an example of glass produced by Beranek and imported by Kusaks in 1946. This unique decor is shown in the shapes on the visual index page. It is hoped that a continuing dialogue with the owner of Kusaks, the grandson of the company's founder, may result in some additional information regarding early Beranek production coming to light.

My initial conversation at Kusak's did reveal that Kusak's referred to early Beranek production as "Pompeian Glass". As little is really known of the company's early years when operating under the name Beranek Glassworks, I find myself wondering if the term used by Kusak's is as a result of "marketing" done by Emanual Beranek early on, when looking for ways to distribute his production. Kusak's has agreed to investigate if there are any old invoices, brochures, or other materials archived that they can locate. Any additional information discovered will most certainly be shared on this site.

My sincere and heartfelt thanks go out to Robert Bevan Jones and Jindrich Parik for providing the information in the book regarding Kusak's. This important information enabled me to make personal contact with this important company and investigate the possibility if there is new information that can come to light with their assistance!

If you have images of any early Beranek items not shown here, I would appreciate it if they could be submitted to the site for use in these pages. Please see the "Contact Info" link at the bottom of the menu to the left for the for image submission email.

Craig Orkney - Webmaster

Please click on the image below to be taken to the Beranek Visual Index.